Google, the world’s largest search engine company, is saying goodbye to its two founders.

On Tuesday, December 3, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, announced they will step down from their executive roles at Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which they started as a research project while they were students at Stanford in 1998.

Page was the chief executive officer of Alphabet, while Brin was its president. Both will remain on the board of directors, according to reports. But Sundar Pichai, currently Google’s CEO, will become CEO of both Google and Alphabet.

Brin and Page, who will give up daily activities at the company, are considered two of the most influential people in the tech world, on a par with Apple founder Steve Jobs, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

More about Brin and Page

Brin and Page gave no official reason for their departures, other than to say in a blog post that the company had matured to a point where it no longer needed two CEOs and a president.

Nevertheless, they each still own about 6% of Google, and they control Alphabet through special voting shares, according to Bloomberg, which also reports that Brin and Page have a combined net worth of $123 billion.

More on Google

Google is the world’s leading search engine, powering roughly 90% of all searches worldwide.

In the 1990s it redefined what search engines do by applying unique algorithms that rank pages, not just according to how often they’re searched, as older search engines did, but by analyzing relationships between keywords, backlinks, and the relevance of information.

It has gone on to become one of the most valuable companies in modern times, generating billions of dollars of profits annually. The company has also become such an integral part of culture that its name has even turned into a verb: to Google.

Google, which has a market cap of about $900 billion, sits on a pile of unspent cash worth $121 billion, reportedly making it one of the most cash-rich companies in the world.

Reorganizing as Alphabet

Today’s Google bears very little resemblance to the company it was when it started more than 20 years ago. And the company reorganized in 2015, creating a parent holding company called Alphabet to better reflect its disparate businesses.

In addition to its search engine, Google has one of the largest digital advertising businesses globally, as well as its own browser, and a suite of productivity software including email, spreadsheets, and documents. Its Android operating system powers smartphones, computers, and tablets, and is the leading operating system in the world. It has also ventured into new businesses including self-driving cars and augmented reality.

Regulatory and political problems

In recent years, regulators have taken aim at top tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Google for allegedly anti-competitive practices.

In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation into Google’s advertising platform, examining the way the search engine might rank searches that potentially favor its own content. In September, 2019 the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its own antitrust investigation, even as attorneys general from 30 states launched a similar action against the company.

Google has also been singled out by some politicians who claim that the search engine’s results are biased, which Google and other experts say is untrue.

Additionally, several Democratic candidates for president have called for the break up of Google and other top tech companies, which they consider monopolies.

Executive turnover

2019 has been a big year for executive changes.  A record 159 CEOs reportedly left their posts in August, nearly 30% higher than in July. Also through August, more than 1,000 CEOs stepped down from their positions, a level not seen since the financial crisis of 2008, according to reports.

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