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Eric Schmidt ends 19-year tenure at Google

Eric Schmidt (right) with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2007

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is no longer working with the company, ceasing to be an advisor to the search giant in February 20 months after leaving Alphabet's board of directors.

A long-time member of Google's executive team, Schmidt has been with the company for 19 years, but took gradual steps back over the later years of his tenure. According to a report, Schmidt has severed ties with Google completely, departing from his role as a technical advisor in February.

The quiet exit from Google, as reported by CNET, marks the final chapter of Schmidt's tenure as the "adult supervision" for the search company that would turn into Alphabet. After being chief executive officer for Google from 2001 until 2011, Schmidt became executive chairman of Alphabet, but announced an intention to transition to a "technical advisor" role in December 2017, while still maintaining a board seat.

In April 2019, Schmidt declined to seek re-election to the Alphabet board of directors, and officially exited the board in June that year, but stayed with the company in his advisory role. Eight months later, he vacated that final advisory position.

It is unclear exactly why Schmidt has left Google completely, as neither Google nor representatives of Schmidt wished to comment on the matter.

It is possible that Schmidt's ties to Google were interfering with his work in other roles, including initiatives for the US military such as chairing the Defense Innovation Board and the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. He was also recently named as the chair of a commission for updating the state of New York's technological infrastructure and policies, both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

In these roles, critics have been quick to suggest his connections to Google may influence his decisions. On the military side, there is the worry Schmidt may enrich Google's position and finances, while the public sector role also raises concerns over Google's privacy track record.

Despite leaving Google, Schmidt is still financially linked to the search company, as he owns approximately $5.3 billion in stock for the firm. After his exit, he is no longer taking his symbolic $1 salary from the company.