Eric Emerson Schmidt (born April 27, 1955) is an American technology businessman and software engineer. He is known for being the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, executive chairman of Google from 2011 to 2015, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. from 2015 to 2017, and Technical Advisor at Alphabet from 2017 to 2020.
In 1979, at the University of California, Berkeley, Schmidt earned an M.S. degree for designing and implementing a network (Berknet) linking the campus computer center with the CS and EECS departments. There, he also earned a PhD degree in 1982 in EECS, with a dissertation about the problems of managing distributed software development and tools for solving these problems.
Early in his career, Schmidt held a series of technical positions with IT companies including Byzromotti Design, Bell Labs (in research and development),Zilog, and Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
In 1983, Schmidt joined Sun Microsystems as its first software manager. He rose to become director of software engineering, vice president and general manager of the software products division, vice president of the general systems group, and president of Sun Technology Enterprises.
During his time at Sun, he was the target of two notable April Fool's Day pranks. In the first, his office was taken apart and rebuilt on a platform in the middle of a pond, complete with a working phone and workstation on the corporate Ethernet network. The next year, a working Volkswagen Beetle was taken apart and re-assembled in his office.
In April 1997, Schmidt became the CEO and chairman of the board of Novell. He presided over a period of decline at Novell where its IPX protocol was being replaced by open TCP/IP products, while at the same time Microsoft was shipping free TCP/IP stacks in Windows 95, making Novell much less profitable. In 2001, he departed after the acquisition of Cambridge Technology Partners.
In March 2001, Schmidt joined Google's board of directors as chair, and became the company's CEO in August 2001. At Google, Schmidt shared responsibility for Google's daily operations with founders Page and Brin. Prior to the Google initial public offering, Schmidt had responsibilities typically assigned to the CEO of a public company and focused on the management of the vice presidents and the sales organization. According to Google, Schmidt's job responsibilities included "building the corporate infrastructure needed to maintain Google's rapid growth as a company and on ensuring that quality remains high while the product development cycle times are kept to a minimum."
Schmidt as executive chair of Google, speaking with Nik Gowing
Upon being hired at Google, Eric Schmidt was paid a salary of $250,000 and an annual performance bonus. He was granted 14,331,703 shares of Class B common stock at $0.30 per share and 426,892 shares of Series C preferred stock at purchase price of $2.34.
In 2004, Schmidt and the Google founders agreed to a base salary of US$1 (which continued through 2010) with other compensation of $557,465 in 2006, $508,763 in 2008, and $243,661 in 2009. He did not receive any additional stock or options in 2009 or 2010.
Most of his compensation was for "personal security" and charters of private aircraft.
In 2007, PC World ranked Schmidt as the first on its list of the 50 most important people on the Web, along with Google co-founders Page and Brin.
Schmidt is one of a few people[who?] who became billionaires (in United States dollars) based on stock options received as employees in corporations of which they were neither the founders nor relatives of the founders, such as Meg Whitman.[failed verification]
In its 2011 'World's Billionaires' list, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 136th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $7 billion.
On January 20, 2011, Google announced that Schmidt would step down as the CEO of Google but would take new title as executive chairman of the company and act as an adviser to co-founders Page and Brin. Google gave him a $100 million equity award in 2011 when he stepped down as CEO. On April 4, 2011, Page replaced Schmidt as the CEO.
On December 21, 2017, Schmidt announced he would be stepping down as the executive chairman of Alphabet. Schmidt stated that "Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet's evolution for this transition."
In February 2020, Schmidt left his post as technical advisor of Alphabet after 19 years with the company.
Department of Defense
In March 2016 it was announced that Eric Schmidt would chair a new advisory board for the Department of Defense, titled the Defense Innovation Advisory Board. The advisory board serves as a forum connecting mainstays in the technology sector with those in the Pentagon.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest within the role, where Schmidt retained his role as technical adviser to Alphabet, and where Google's bidding for the multi-million dollar Pentagon cloud contract, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, was ongoing: Schmidt screened emails and other communications, stating, "“There’s a rule: I’m not allowed to be briefed” about Google or Alphabet business as it relates to the Defense Department". He exited the position November 2020.
While working at Google, Schmidt was involved in activities that later became the subject of the High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation case that resulted in a settlement of $415 million paid by Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel to employees. In one incident, after receiving a complaint from Steve Jobs of Apple, Schmidt sent an email to Google's HR department saying; "I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can. Thanks Eric". Schmidt's email led to a recruiter for Google being "terminated within the hour" for not having adhered to the illegal scheme. Under Schmidt, there was a "Do Not Call list" of companies Google would avoid recruiting from. According to a court filing, another email exchange shows Google's human resources director asking Schmidt about sharing its no-cold-call agreements with competitors. Schmidt responded that he preferred it be shared "verbally, since I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later?"
On August 28, 2006, Schmidt was elected to Apple Inc.'s board of directors, a position he held until August 2009.
Schmidt has proposed that the easiest way to solve all of the domestic problems of the United States at once is by a stimulus program that rewards renewable energy and, over time, attempts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.
The Schmidts, working with Hart Howerton, a San Francisco architectural firm that specializes in large-scale land use, have inaugurated several projects on the island of Nantucket that seek to sustain the unique character of the island and to minimize the impact of seasonal visitation on the island's core community.
In 2009, Eric and Wendy Schmidt endowed the Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund at Princeton University with $25 million. The Fund's purpose is to support cutting-edge research and technology in the natural sciences and engineering, encouraging collaboration across disciplines. It awarded $1.2 million in grants in 2010 and $1.7 million in grants in 2012.
Schmidt Science Fellows
Created in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, the Schmidt Science Fellows program is part of a $100 million commitment to drive scientific leadership and interdisciplinary research. The program features a Global Meeting Series including exclusive sessions at world-leading institutions including Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, and Harvard. Fellows receive a stipend to participate in postdoctoral study which differs from their existing expertise.
An initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, which aims to increase the opportunity for exceptional young people worldwide to serve others throughout their lives. The program, which will find and elevate young people between the ages of 15 and 17 from around the world, will be designed to encourage a lifetime of service and learning by providing support that could include scholarships, career services, and funding opportunities
On May 16, 2013 Margaret Hodge MP, the chair of the United Kingdom Public Accounts Committee accused Google of being "calculated and unethical" over its use of artificial distinctions to avoid paying billions of pounds in corporation tax owed by its UK operations. Google was accused by the committee, which represents the interests of all UK taxpayers, of being "evil" for not paying its "fair amount of tax".
In 2015, the UK Government introduced a new law intended to penalise Google and other large multinational corporations' artificial tax avoidance. Google is accused of avoiding paying tens of billions of dollars of tax through a convoluted scheme of inter-company licensing agreements and transfers to tax havens. Schmidt was also criticised for his inaccurate use of the term 'capitalism' to describe billions of dollars being transferred into tax havens where no economic activity was actually taking place.
Schmidt with Google founders
Publicly Schmidt stated that, as paraphrased by CNN/Money, "there has to be a trade-off between privacy concerns and functionality." His explanations referenced "Don't Be Evil".
During an interview aired on December 3, 2009, on the CNBC documentary "Inside the Mind of Google," Schmidt was asked, "People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?" He replied: "I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that information could be made available to the authorities."
At the Techonomy conference on August 4, 2010, Schmidt expressed that technology is good. And he said that the only way to manage the challenges is "much greater transparency and no anonymity." Schmidt also stated that in an era of asymmetric threats, "true anonymity is too dangerous." However, at the 2013 Hay Festival, Schmidt expressed concern that sharing of personal information was too rampant and could have a negative effect, particularly on teenagers, stating that "we have never had a generation with a full photographic, digital record of what they did", declaring that "We have a point at which we [Google] forget information we know about you because it is the right thing to do. There are situations in life that it's better that they don't exist."
In 2013, Schmidt stated that the government surveillance in the United States was the "nature of our society" and that he was not going to "pass judgment on that". However, on the revelation that the NSA has been secretly spying on Google's data centers worldwide, he called the practice "outrageous" and criticized the NSA's collection of Americans phone records.
In 2005, Google blacklisted CNET reporters from talking to Google employees for one year, until July 2006, after CNET published personal information on Schmidt, including his political donations, hobbies, salary, and neighborhood, that had been obtained through Google searches.
In August 2010, Schmidt clarified his company's views on network neutrality: "I want to be clear what we mean by Net neutrality: What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. But it's okay to discriminate across different types. So you could prioritize voice over video. And there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue."
Influence of Internet usage in North Korea
In January 2013, Schmidt and Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas visited North Korea along with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. The trip was highly publicized and controversial due to the ongoing tension between North Korea and the United States. On August 10, 2013, North Korea announced an indigenous smartphone, named Arirang, that may be using the Google Android operating system.
Advocating open Internet use in Myanmar
In March 2013, Schmidt visited Myanmar, which had been ruled by a military junta for decades and is transitioning to a democracy. During his visit, Schmidt spoke in favor of free and open Internet use in the country, and was scheduled to meet with the country's president.
In 2013, Schmidt and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank, published The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, which discusses the geopolitical implications of increasingly widespread Internet use and access to information. The book was inspired by an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine the two co-wrote in 2010. He also wrote the preface to The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs, by William H. Draper, III.
How Google Works
In 2014, Schmidt co-authored the New York Times best-selling book How Google Works with Jonathan Rosenberg, former Senior Vice President of Products at Google and current advisor to Google CEO Larry Page, and Alan Eagle. The book is a collection of the business management lessons learned over the course of Schmidt and Rosenberg's time leading Google. In his book, Eric Schmidt argues that successful companies in the technology-driven internet age should attract smart and creative employees and create an environment where they can thrive. He argues that the traditional business rules that make a company successful have changed; companies should maximize freedom and speed, and decision-making should not lie in the hands of the few. Schmidt also emphasizes that individuals and small teams can have a massive impact on innovation.
Dating back to early 1990s and dubbed "Schmidt's Law" by George Gilder when Schmidt predicted that the network will become the computer. Schmidt's Law states: "When the network becomes as fast as the backplane of your computer, the computer hollows out, its components dispersing across the Web, its value migrating to search and sort functions."
In 2015, Schmidt acquired a 20% stake in D.E. Shaw & Co. Schmidt is also an investor in CargoMetrics, another quant hedge fund.
In April 2015, Schmidt delivered the commencement address at Virginia Tech, located in Schmidt's childhood home of Blacksburg, Virginia. This came on the heels of Schmidt making a $2 million donation to Virginia Tech's College of Engineering. Schmidt's philanthropy is the result of his longstanding friendship with Virginia Tech's former president Paul Torgersen. His donation funded the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean's Chair in Engineering.
In September 2020, Schmidt purchased Montecito Mansion, a 22,000-square-foot estate overlooking Santa Barbara, for $30.8 million.
In November 2020, Recode reported that Schmidt is finalizing his plan to become a citizen of the island nation of Cyprus. He is one of the highest-profile or famous people to take advantage of the controversial immigrant investor programs that offers 'passport-for-sale'. This passport can be used to enter any country in the European Union.
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