Google: Retiring at 46

Article By : Anne-Françoise Pelé

Between them, the two still hold 51 percent of voting shares, and will remain on Alphabet’s board. They aren’t going far.

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are stepping down from their executive roles at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. They are 46, and this announcement marks the first day of the rest of their lives.

In a letter posted Tuesday on Google’s official blog, Page and Brin announced they are resigning from, respectively, the posts of CEO and president of Alphabet. Moving forward, Sundar Pichai, an Indian-born computer scientist who has been with Google for the last fifteen years, will serve as the CEO of both Google and Alphabet. “He will be the executive responsible and accountable for leading Google, and managing Alphabet’s investment in our portfolio of other bets,” they stated.

Though unexpected, this announcement is not earth-shaking. Page and Brin had taken their distance from the day-to-day managerial activities for quite some time. Besides, the pair will still hold 51 percent of voting shares at Alphabet, thus effective control over the company. In their goodbye blog post, Page and Brin said they will remain “deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term”, and “actively involved as board members, shareholders and co-founders.” They also plan to “continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we are passionate about!”

That’s what I call the art of having the advantages without the disadvantages.

From garage-to-glory, twenty-one years have passed. Twenty-one years, or the age of maturity, as Page and Brin compare themselves as the happy fathers of a grown-up child. I did not make up this parenthood analogy. They did, probably to convey some emotion and bring tears to our eyes. “Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost. While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents—offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!”

They are right. Love is the foundation of education, and as the proud mother of three children, I promise to offer them “advice and love, but not daily nagging,” even if they don’t yield hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenues.

Life begins at 46

46 is the number of human chromosomes, the code for international direct dial phone calls to Sweden, and, in numerology (not that I am interested in the esoteric science of numbers), it is known to give the ultimate in success in any business or work one undertakes.

“At 20 years of age the Will reigns; at 30 the Wit; at 40 the Judgment,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in the June 1741 Edition of the Poor Richard’s Almanack.

In their early twenties, Page and Brin arduously developed a search algorithm to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. In 1998, Google was officially incorporated. In their thirties, they experienced rapid growth as the company launched Google News, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Chrome, and the soon-to-be-forgotten Google+. Waymo even began as the Google self-driving car project in 2009. In their forties, they judged it was the right time to slip away. Maybe because these two engineers, with technology running in their veins, are miles away from the ever-growing regulatory challenges on several continents. The European Union indeed opened this week preliminary investigations into the group’s data practices, especially in the way it gathers, processes, uses and monetizes data for advertising purposes.

When Bill Gates announced in February 2014 that he was stepping down as Microsoft’s chairman, Tim Cook was 46. When Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced his plans to step down last year, Daniel Zhang was 46. For Tim Cook and Daniel Zhang, these announcements marked the first day of the rest of their lives as company leaders, visionaries, and strategists.

A recent study, entitled Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, demonstrated that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. In fact, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Nearly 46.

On a day when France is paralyzed by a nationwide strike over French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plans, Page and Brin can’t retire at 46. Pursuing their life-extension technology project and helping the world’s population live -and work- better, longer and happier -no more strikers- seems like a better idea.

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