Google announced that CEO Eric Schmidt is stepping down as the firm's CEO and will be replaced by co-founder Larry Page.
The surprise announcement came ahead of fourth-quarter results which showed that the internet giant's revenue had grown 29 per cent, outperforming Wall Street expectations.
"And as our results today show, the outlook is bright. But as Google has grown, managing the business has become more complicated," wrote Schmidt on the official Google blog.
"So Larry, Sergey and I have been talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making and over the holidays we decided now was the right moment to make some changes to the way we are structured."
Google's management had previously famously consisted of a 'triumvirate approach' with the founders Brin and Page and 57-year old ex-Sun Schmidt. The firm will now assign individual roles and responsibilities with Page stepping up to the top job. "Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead," said Schmidt.
The move will see Page head up day-to-day operations while Brin will focus on new 'strategic' products for the company and Schmidt, taking up the role of Executive Chairman, will focus on "deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships," he said.
The management change appeared to please investors, no doubt helped by the reported $2.54 billion dollars of fourth-quarter profits, with shares rising 2.6 per cent in after-hours trading, hitting a high of $643.08.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Schmidt provided insight into Google's focus for 2011. "As I think about Google's strategic initiatives in 2011, I realize they're all about mobile," he said.