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Fireworks in Oakley, July 3, 2010

Eric Schmidt ’76 is stepping down from his role as executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, according to a Dec. 21 statement from Alphabet.

Schmidt served as Google’s chief executive officer from 2001 to 2011. He will be transitioning into a technical advisor role at Alphabet and will continue to serve on the company’s Board of Directors. 

Schmidt graduated from the University with a degree in electrical engineering, and has served as a University trustee from 2004 to 2008. He continued his education at UC Berkeley, where he received his master’s degree and doctorate in 1979 and 1982, respectively.

“Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition. The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving,” Schmidt said in the statement. “In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work.”

During his time as the CEO of Google, he oversaw the development of Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Chrome, and in 2004 took the company public. Under his leadership, the company also acquired YouTube.

In 2016, he was honored by the University with the 2017 Woodrow Wilson Award, given to alumni whose accomplishments embody the phrase “Princeton in the nation’s service.” 

In 2009, he and his wife, Wendy Schmidt, established the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund at Princeton. It is a $25 million endowment fund dedicated to “for the invention, development and utilization of cutting-edge technology that has the capacity to transform research in the natural sciences and engineering.”

In a 2002 interview with The Daily Princetonian, Schmidt credited the University with helping him achieve his goals. 

Schmidt chose to go to the University because of its liberal arts offering, saying it “just had the right karma.” 

“I wouldn't be here today if professors hadn't noticed me as having some potential,” he told the ‘Prince.’ “Princeton focused on politics and governance and all of those things helped round me out and helped me professionally.”

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