After nearly 10 years as Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt hands the job over to cofounder Larry Page on Monday. Schmidt will continue to serve as executive chairman and an advisor to the company, and will handle matters such as business deals and government outreach. A decade is an eternity in the Internet age, so it's no surprise that Google has done lots of big things with Schmidt at the helm. Here are Google's ten biggest accomplishments under Eric Schmidt.
The self-serve advertising platform for Websites, introduced without the AdSense moniker in 2003, is culturally significant for giving any Website a fully automated way to make money. It's also a cash cow for Google, accounting for 30 percent of total revenues in the fourth quarter of 2010 ($8.44 billion).
When Google bought YouTube in 2006, it was already a popular site for streaming video--but naysayers questioned the acquisition's $1.65 billion price tag, and for years the site was shedding money. Not anymore. Although it isn't clear whether YouTube is profitable, the site is reportedly a big revenue maker thanks to 3 billion ad views per week.
Google Maps isn't a big moneymaker, but it is the backbone for other important services such as Latitude, Places, and Maps Navigation. As Google goes local with offerings such as Hotpot and a possible Groupon competitor, it's crucial for the company to have its own mapping service.
Gmail isn't the most popular Web-based e-mail program--Hotmail and Yahoo Mail have it beat--but nonetheless it serves as a home base for other Google services such as GChat, voice calls, and contacts. And if you log on to check e-mail in the morning, you're effectively signed in to all Google services until you close your Web browser.
20 Percent Time
While not exactly an accomplishment, the September 2002 institution of "20 percent time"--working hours during which employees may do whatever they like--has led to countless other projects, such as Google News, Wave, and Reader. Of course, not all of these services have been hits (Google Wave flopped after a year).
Google gobbled up Android Inc. in 2005, and announced the Android smartphone platform two years later. At the time, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer dismissed the news as "just some words on paper," but in a few years Android would become the U.S. consumer market's best-selling smartphone platform.
The first Android device, the HTC Dream (aka the T-Mobile G1), debuted in 2008, but Android didn't really take off until late 2009, when Verizon Wireless gave the Motorola Droid the marketing push it needed to create legions of Android fans. The agreement between Google and Verizon led to numerous successful Android phones, catapulting Google's mobile platform ahead of Apple's iPhone in sales.
By partnering with Apple to provide the default search engine on iPhones, Google gained a foothold on a fast-growing mobile operating system. With the iPhone and Android both expanding at a rapid pace, Google now dominates the mobile search market, just as it does on PCs. Rumors of Bing replacing Google as the default have yet to pan out.
Google's initial public offering was a bit screwy, using an auction that was supposed to determine what the company was really worth. It arguably didn't have that effect, but before the IPO, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin were earning low-six-figure salaries. Going public lined their pockets with billions of dollars in company stock.
Google Chrome, which launched in 2008, still lacks market share compared with Internet Explorer and Firefox, but it sets the agenda for Google's vision of Web-based computing with developments such as the Chrome Web Store and hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. Chrome is also the basis for Google's upcoming Chrome OS and existing Google TV platform, and it's a fine Web browser to boot.