Eric Schmidt, in full Eric Emerson Schmidt (born April 27, 1955, Washington, D.C.), American information technology executive who served (2001–11) as chairman and CEO of Google Inc., overseeing a vast expansion of the company’s activities.
Schmidt grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, where his father was a professor of economics at Virginia Tech. He entered Princeton University as an architecture student but changed his major to electrical engineering before graduating in 1976. He then studied computer science (M.S., 1979; Ph.D., 1982) at the University of California, Berkeley.
From 1979 to 1983 Schmidt worked for the Xerox Corporation at its Xerox PARC installation in Palo Alto, California. He became a software manager at Sun Microsystems in 1983, only one year after the founding of the company. In 1985 he was promoted to vice president of Sun’s software products division, and in 1988 he became vice president of the Sun general systems group. In 1991 Sun Microsystems was reorganized, and Schmidt was made president of one of its offshoots, Sun Technology Enterprises. In 1994 he returned to Sun Microsystems as chief technology officer. At Sun he was involved in the development of the Java programming language, and he enthusiastically promoted its use in his capacity as a company executive. In 1997 Schmidt left Sun to become chairman and CEO of Novell, Inc.
In March 2001 Schmidt was hired by Google as board chairman. Less than five months later he was given the additional title of CEO. Schmidt is credited with introducing elements of conventional business structure into the company. He oversaw Google’s initial public offering of stock in August 2004 and also served as a company spokesperson.
In 2011 Page reclaimed the Google CEO position he had left 10 years earlier, and Schmidt took the new title of executive chairman. In 2015, Schmidt became chairman of the executive committee of the Alphabet board of directors.