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Eric Schmidt

For other uses, see Eric Schmidt (disambiguation).

Eric Schmidt
File:Eric Schmidt at the 37th G8 Summit in Deauville 037.jpg
Schmidt at the 2011 G8 Summit
Born Eric Emerson Schmidt
(1955-04-27) April 27, 1955 (age 65)
Washington, D.C., U.S.[1]
Education Princeton University (B.S.)
UC Berkeley (M.S., Ph.D.)
Occupation Software engineer and businessman
Years active 1982–present
Employer Google
Salary $1.25 million (2012)[2]
Net worth 11px $9.3 billion (2015)[3]
Title Executive Chairman of Google
Political party
Spouse(s) Wendy Boyle (m. 1980)
Children 2 daughters (Sophie and Alison)
Parent(s) Eleanor and Wilson Schmidt
Website — Eric Schmidt

Eric Emerson Schmidt (born April 27, 1955) is an American software engineer, businessman, and the executive chairman of Google.[4] In 2013, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 138th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $8.3 billion.[5]

As an intern at Bell Labs, Schmidt did a complete re-write of Lex, a program to generate lexical analysers for the Unix computer operating system. From 1997 to 2001, he was chief executive officer of Novell. From 2001 to 2011, he served as the CEO of Google. He served on various other boards in academia and industry, such as the boards of trustees for both Carnegie Mellon University and Princeton University.[6][7][8]

Early life

Eric Emerson Schmidt was born in Washington, D.C. and spent his youth in its Northern Virginia suburbs.[1] He was one of three sons of Eleanor, who had a master's degree in psychology, and Wilson Emerson Schmidt, a professor of international economics at Virginia Tech and Johns Hopkins University, who worked at the U.S. Treasury Department during the Nixon Administration.[9][10][11][12] He grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, and Falls Church, Virginia.[10][13]

Schmidt graduated from Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, in 1972, after earning eight varsity letter awards in long-distance running.[14][15] He then attended Princeton University, where he started as an architecture major but then switched and earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1976.[9][16] From 1976 to 1980, Schmidt stayed at the International House Berkeley, where he met his future wife, Wendy Boyle. In 1979, at the University of California, Berkeley, Schmidt then earned an M.S. degree for designing and implementing a network linking the campus computer center with the CS and EECS departments.[17] There, he also earned a Ph.D. degree in 1982 in EECS, with a dissertation about the problems of managing distributed software development and tools for solving these problems.[18]


Early career

He was joint author (with Mike Lesk) during his summers at Bell Labs of Lex,[9][19] a program to generate a lexical-analyzer program from a regular-expression description and an important tool for compiler construction. He taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in the 2000s as a lecturer in strategic management.[20][21]

Early in his career, Schmidt held a series of technical positions with IT companies including Byzromotti Design, Bell Labs (in research and development),[10] Zilog, and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

Sun Microsystems

In 1983, Schmidt joined Sun Microsystems as its first software manager.[10] 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.[22]

During his time at Sun, he was the target of two notable April Fool's Day pranks.[23][24][25] In the first, his office was taken apart and rebuilt on a platform in the middle of a pond, complete with a working phone. The next year, a working Volkswagen Beetle was taken apart and re-assembled in his office.

In April 1997, he became the CEO and chairman of the board of Novell.

In 2001, he departed after the acquisition of Cambridge Technology Partners.


Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin interviewed Schmidt. Impressed by him,[26] they recruited Schmidt to run their company in 2001 under the guidance of venture capitalists John Doerr and Michael Moritz.

In March 2001, Schmidt joined Google's board of directors as chairman, 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.[27] 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."[28]

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.[29]

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,[30] $508,763 in 2008, and $243,661 in 2009. He did not receive any additional stock or options in 2009 or 2010.[31][32] Most of his compensation was for "personal security" and charters of private aircraft.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34][not in citation given]

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.[5] Google gave him a $100 million equity award in 2011 when he stepped down as CEO.[35]

On 20 January 2011, Google announced that Schmidt would step down as the CEO of Google but continue as the executive chairman of the company and act as an adviser to co-founders Page and Brin.

On 4 April 2011, Page replaced Schmidt as the CEO.[36]


On 28 August 2006, Schmidt was elected to Apple Inc.'s board of directors.[37]

On 3 August 2009, it was announced that Schmidt would resign from the board of directors at Apple due to conflicts of interest amid the growing competition between Google and Apple.

Other ventures

Schmidt sat on the boards of trustees for both Carnegie Mellon University and Princeton University.[6][7][8] He taught at Stanford Graduate School of Business in the 2000s.[38][39] Schmidt serves on the board of the Khan Academy.[40][41]

The New America Foundation is a non-profit public-policy institute and think tank, founded in 1999. Schmidt succeeded founding chairman James Fallows in 2008.[42]

Founded in 2010 by Schmidt and Dror Berman, Innovation Endeavors is an early-stage venture capital. The fund, based in Palo Alto, California, invested companies such as Mashape, Uber (company), Quixey, Gogobot, BillGuard, and Formlabs.[43][44]

President Barack Obama

Schmidt was a campaign advisor and major donor to Barack Obama and served on Google’s government relations team. Obama considered him for Commerce Secretary.[45] Schmidt was an informal advisor to the Obama presidential campaign and began campaigning the week of October 19, 2008, on behalf of the candidate.[46] He was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Chief Technology Officer position, which Obama created in his administration.[47] After Obama won in 2008, Schmidt became a member of President Obama's transition advisory board. He proposed that the easiest way to solve all of the problems of the United States at once, at least in domestic policies, is by a stimulus program that rewards renewable energy and, over time, attempts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.[48]

He has since become a new member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology PCAST.[49]


Schmidt Family Foundation

The Schmidt Family Foundation was established in 2006 by Wendy Schmidt and Eric Schmidt to address issues of sustainability and the responsible use of natural resources.[50]

Schmidt and his wife established the Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Fellowship, a University of Chicago summer school program for aspiring data scientists.

The Schmidt Family Foundation's subsidiaries include ReMain Nantucket and the Marine Science and Technology Foundation; its main charitable program is the 11th Hour Project. The Foundation has also awarded grants to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Energy Foundation.[51] The Foundation is the main funder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, supporting the acquisition and operation of its research vessels.

The Schmidts, working with Heart 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.

Ms. Schmidt offered the prize purse of the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, a challenge award for the efficient capturing of crude oil from seawater motivated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[52]

Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund

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.[53][54][55][56] It awarded $1.2 million in grants in 2010 and $1.7 million in grants in 2012.[57][58]

Public positions


Publicly Schmidt stated that, as paraphrased by CNN/Money, "there has to be a trade-off between privacy concerns and functionality."[59] His explanations referenced "Don't Be Evil".[59]

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."[60][61]

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."[62] 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."[63]

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".[64] 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[65]

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 politician donations, hobbies, salary, and neighborhood, that had been obtained through Google searches.[59]

Network neutrality

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."[66]

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.[67] The trip was highly publicized and controversial due to the ongoing tension between North Korea and the United States.[68] Tumblr, a Yahoo!-owned social-blogging site, featured a page titled, "Eric Schmidt looking at things", and included photographs of Mr. Schmidt looking intently at computer screens and other scenes in North Korea.[69] On August 10, 2013, North Korea announced an indigenous smartphone, named Arirang, that may be using the Google Android operating system.[70]

Advocating open Internet use in Burma

In March 2013, Schmidt visited Burma, 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.[71][72][73]


The New Digital Age

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.[74][75][76] He also wrote the preface to The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs, by William H. Draper, III.[77]

How Google Works

In 2014, Schmidt co-authored the New York Times best-selling book How Google Works[78] with Jonathan Rosenberg, former Senior Vice President of Products at Google and current advisor to Google CEO Larry Page, and Alan Eagle.[79] The book is a collection of the business management lessons learned over the course of Schmidt and Rosenberg's time leading Google.[80] In his book, Eric Schmidt argues that successful companies in the technology-driven internet age, should attract smart and creative employees and then create an environment where they can thrive. He argues that the traditional business rules that make a company successful have changed. The book states that companies should maximize freedom and speed, and decision-making should not lie in the hands of the few. It also emphasizes that individuals and small teams can have a massive impact on innovation.[81]

Schmidts Law

Dating back to early 1990s and dubbed "Schmidts Law" by George Gilder when Schmidt predicted that the network will become the computer.[82][83]

Schmidts Law states: "When the network becomes 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." [84]

Other work

Art Collection

Schmidt was on the list of ARTnews's 200 top art collectors in 2008.[85]

Bilderberg Group

He is a member of the Bilderberg Group and attended the Bilderberg conference in 2011,[86] 2012 and 2013.[87] He also has a listed membership with the Trilateral Commission.[88]

Schmidt Ocean Institute

With his wife, Wendy, he formed the Schmidt Ocean Institute which supports oceanographic research by operating RV Falkor.[89]


In 2014, he had a cameo appearance in the film Dumb and Dumber To, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.

Personal life

In June 1980, Schmidt married Wendy Susan Boyle (born in Short Hills, New Jersey, in 1955). They lived in Atherton, California, in the 1990s.[90] They have two daughters, Sophie and Allison.[10][91] The two separated in 2011.[10][92][93] That year, Schmidt dated Lisa Shields, a communications executive for the Council on Foreign Relations.[94]

In 2012, he was dating concert pianist and artist Chau-Giang Nguyen (Nguyễn Thị Châu Giang), who was formerly engaged to Hollywood Oscar-winning TV and movie producer Brian Grazer until they split in 2011.[92][95][96][97]

In January 2013, Schmidt visited North Korea with his daughter Sophie,[98] Jared Cohen and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.[99][100]

See also

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External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer of Google
Succeeded by
Larry Page
Executive Chairman of Google

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