Larry Page and Sergey Brin have ruled Google in a triumvirate with Chief Executive Eric Schmidt for years, so what should be inferred from the fact that the company's co-founders were absent from Thursday's conference call to discuss Google's relatively strong fourth-quarter results?
Probably not too much.
Brin and Page have been a public face of the company, and sharing financial results is an important part of how a company presents itself publicly. In announcing the co-founders' absence from the call, Schmidt said, "They continue to focus on technology and product innovation which, of course, they do so very, very well."
Despite the change, there's no difference in the co-founders' status, job descriptions, or roles at the company, Google spokesman Andrew Pederson said.
And honestly, it's not a bad thing. Computer science Ph.D.s, even ones who have responsibility for running a company, have better things to do than fend off Wall Street questions about foreign-exchange hedging. Companies hire chief financial officers for that kind of thing. Indeed, many companies don't even put the CEO on the conference call.
And in a way, Thursday's change has been phased in. Page and Brin were present on the conference call to discuss Google's first-quarter earnings from 2008, but only Brin made an appearance for the second- and third-quarter calls.