He was brought in as CEO in 2001 when founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin needed a more mature business mind to lead the company to success.
This was only three years into Google’s existence and the rest, of course, is history. Schmidt helped lead Google to a position as a market-dominant search giant and led it through the acquisitions of Android and YouTube, where it helped shape the smartphone and online video industries.
Schmidt’s quiet departure came a couple of months after Page and Brin stepped down as CEO and President of Alphabet respectively and handed the CEO reins to Sundar Pichai, who now, incredibly, is CEO of Alphabet and Google.
We can only speculate, but it seems as though Pichai is ensuring that new minds lead Google through its next phase of evolution and the company may be looking to change its internal culture. As the CNET report notes:
“As the original management departs, employees and industry observers have questioned whether the world's largest search engine, with more than 120,000 employees around the globe, can maintain its famously freewheeling culture. In the past three years, tensions between management and employees have mounted over the handling of sexual misconduct allegations directed at top executives, a censored search engine project in China and initiatives around artificial intelligence for the US Department of Defense.”
Schmidt leaves his Google career behind but stays on as chair of the Defense Innovation board, an advisory group with links to the Pentagon. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week also announced that Schmidt will chair a commission on the state’s technological infrastructure for post-coronavirus pandemic strategy.
Add to that Schmidt’s role as the chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and it doesn’t seem like he had much time for Google anyway.