Google's Q4 financial results press release contains a bombshell: as of April 4, co-founder Larry Page (on the far right, above) will replace Eric Schmidt as CEO and assume responsibility for day-to-day operations and product development and strategy. That doesn't mean Schmidt is leaving -- he'll carry on as Executive Chairman and serve as an advisor to Page and co-founder Sergey Brin, focused on external things like "deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership." As for Sergey, he'll now "devote his energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products," with the simple title of Co-Founder.

Schmidt's clarified and explained the change in a blog post, saying that the idea is to make leading Google as efficient as possible, and that "Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead." It's clear the idea is to frame this as a simple organizational shuffle -- Schmidt says that he, Brin, and Page "anticipate working together for a long time to come" -- but there's no question that Schmidt's reign as CEO set a clear tone for Google as the company expanded beyond search and into new markets like smartphones, connected televisions, and operating systems, and we're curious to see what Page's style is like. We're also very curious to hear more about why the change was made -- although Schmidt, Page, and Brin have worked together for over 10 years, there's always been some tension between the co-founders and their CEO, particularly over user privacy. In any event, this is a momentous change both for Google and the industry -- we'll see what happens next.

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Larry Page taking over as Google CEO, Eric Schmidt will remain as Executive Chairman