Did Google fire Eric Schmidt?

By some accounts, he was looking to jump but was also pushed out.

By Kim Peterson Jan 21, 2011 1:54PM
Credit: Eric Schmidt (©Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

 Was Eric Schmidt fired from Google (GOOG)? That's what The New Yorker's Ken Auletta is reporting.

Schmidt "lost some energy and focus" after Google decided to pull out of China, sources tell Auletta. Schmidt wanted to Google to stay in China and was overruled by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Schmidt was pushed out, Auletta reports. But he wanted to jump as well, having felt the strain of numerous business complications. Google has gone nowhere in social networking, getting outmaneuvered by Facebook at every turn.

Google is also a point of controversy in some countries, facing challenges over privacy and size issues, Auletta reports. Finally, Page and Brin were "restive." Auletta interviewed Schmidt 11 times for his book "Googled" and knows the company better than just about any other journalist, so I'm guessing there's basis to his reporting.

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Over at Business Insider, Henry Blodget parses Schmidt's comments and thinks he was fired. "Specifically, it seemed that far from adult supervision no longer being needed, Eric's opinions were no longer wanted," Blodget writes.

But was this the right decision? Specifically, is Page the best person to move into the CEO spot? Numerous reports say he's antisocial and filled with disdain for the day-to-day tedium and bureaucratic minutiae that come with a CEO position.


The market responded well to the CEO switch, although today Google shares have dropped back to Thursday's closing price. Analysts seemed encouraged by Page as CEO.
"This new team structure makes a lot of sense and could result in faster decision making," wrote Imran Khan, of JP Morgan. Another analyst, Mark Mahaney of Citigroup, agreed: "We believe Larry Page has been groomed for the role of CEO, and we don't expect any dramatic changes to Google's core strategies." (Thanks to MediaMemo for the analyst quotes.)

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