January 20, 2011, 4:47 PM

A leadership change at Google

Co-founder Larry Page will take over as CEO. Google also reports paid clicks jump 18%.

Lead Photo

Larry Page

Google Inc. today announced a change in leadership, with Google co-founder Larry Page set to take over as CEO on Apr. 4 from Eric Schmidt, who has held the job since 2001. Schmidt will assume the role of executive chairman.  

Page has been Google’s president of products and shared day-to-day management operations with Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin for the last 10 years. Page will now oversee day-to-day operations, while Brin focuses on strategic projects relating to new products. As executive chairman Schmidt will focus on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership. He will continue to act as an advisor to Page and Brin, Google says.

Schmidt says the moves will simplify the management structure and speed decision making. “By clarifying our individual roles we’ll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company,” he says. “In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come.”

The management change was announced as the search engine giant reported its fourth quarter and full-year 2010 earnings. Google said that paid clicks were up 18% from a year ago during the fourth quarter, while the average cost per click increased approximately 5%. Google reported revenue of $8.44 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up 26.5% from $6.67 billion a year ago.

Google-owned sites contributed 67.2% or $5.67 billion of total revenue, up 28.3% from $4.42 billion a year ago. Ads Google places on others’ web sites through its AdSense program contributed 29.8%, or $2.50 billion, of total revenue, up 22.5% from $2.04 billion a year ago. Google includes traffic acquisition costs that it shares with its ad partners in its total revenues. Google reported that amount was up 20.3% from a year ago to $2.07 billion, or 24.5% of total revenue. During Q4 2009, the company reported $1.72 billion in traffic acquisition costs.

“Q4 marked a terrific end to a stellar year,” Schmidt says. “Our strong performance has been driven by a rapidly growing digital economy, continuous product innovation that benefits both users and advertisers, and by the extraordinary momentum of our newer businesses, such as display and mobile.”

Google’s net income in Q4 was $2.54 billion, up 28.9% from $1.97 billion the same quarter a year ago. Operating income during the quarter totaled $2.98 billion, or 35.3% of total revenue. This is down from 37.2% of revenue during Q4 2009.  

For the full year 2010, Google reported revenue of $29.32 billion, up 24.0% from $23.65 billion a year ago. Net income rose 30.5% to $8.51 billion from $6.52 billion in 2009.

Page says he’s excited to start as CEO and will look to Schmidt for advice. “Eric is a tremendous leader and I have learned innumerable lessons from him,” Page says. “His advice and efforts will be invaluable to me as I start in this new role. Google still has such incredible opportunity. We are only at the beginning and I can’t wait to get started.”

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