Google co-founder Larry Page is to regain full-control of the internet phenomenon he created as a student in 1996, after Eric Schmidt announced he is to step down as chief executive more than a decade after he was brought in to provide "adult supervision".
The shock management shake-up, which will see Mr Page become chief executive on April 4, came as the company reported a better-than-expected 29pc increase in full-year pre-tax profits to $10.8bn (£6.8bn).
Mr Schmidt, who was brought in to guide Google’s student founders, Mr Page and Sergey Brin, in 2001, said on his personal Twitter account: “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed!”
On a conference with analysts late last night he added: “I believe Larry is ready. His ideas are very interesting and clever and it’s time for him to have a shot at running this.
“I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.”
Mr Schmidt, who will become executive chairman of the search giant, said the new structure will “produce even better results for the corporation”.
He explained that the previous structure, in which the triumvirate took collective decisions, had slowed down decision making. He said the changes would help clarify the individual roles so “there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company”.
However, Mr Schmidt reassured investors that he does not expect any “material change” in the way the company is run because “we tend to agree on pretty much everything”.
Mr Page, who owns $26m worth of Google shares, thanked Mr Schmidt for his stewardship of the company. “There is no other CEO in the world that could have kept such headstrong founders so deeply involved and still run the business so brilliantly,” he said. “Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him.”
Mr Page said Google is just at the “tip of the iceberg” of how the internet will change consumers lives in the future. “If you think about the next five years of what your online life will be like, we are only just [getting] started and I am very excited,” he added.
Mr Schmidt said his new role would concentrate on “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships”.
Mr Brin will devote his time to “strategic projects”, particularly developing new products.
The management changes came as Google announced a 22pc increase in pre-tax profits in the three months to the end of December to $3.1bn on revenue up 26pc to $8.4bn. Full-year pre-tax profits rose to $10.8bn from $8.4bn.
Google highlighted the UK as its weakest market, with revenue up 13.7pc to $878m.
The shares were trading $12.50, or 2pc, higher at $639 in after hours trading last night.