Questions Remain After Eric Schmidt Steps Down From Alphabet

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by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:

The week leading up to Christmas has proven explosive for various aspects of the technological world. In a matter of days, Bitcoin’s value plummeted drastically and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors, stepped down without naming a successor. The announcement has raised a storm of questions as to the motive behind the decision, and speculation as to Schmidt’s future.

CNBC reported that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, had announced Schmidt would be transitioning to a technical advisory role, and will continue to serve on the company’s board. The Wall Street Journal related that Schmidt had published a statement on the matter, which read in part: “Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition… In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work.”

The New York Post writes that the timing of Schmidt’s sudden move — along with the fact that Alphabet waited three days to disclose that Schmidt had told the company he was stepping down, according to a filing — had raised questions. Some have speculated that the powerhouse was linked to sordid allegations similar to those leveled at Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein earlier this year. However, nothing of that nature has been revealed thus far, leaving open a storm of questions as to the cause of his sudden removal. The New York Post wrote that a source close to Schmidt said the move would: “Allow him to have a more “hands-on role” in developing artificial intelligence for defense.”

Schmidt gained notoriety during his tenure at Google and Alphabet for his involvement in politics as well as technology. He was a regular figure amongst the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign, even going so far as to donate the use of a private Google jet for the campaign’s use. Press reports on the relationship between Schmidt and Clinton’s campaign referred to his role in Clinton’s campaign as “crucial.” Quartz wrote that Schmidt created a start-up, which was described as: “The stealthy, Eric Schmidt-backed startup that’s working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.” Emails published last year by Wikileaks reveal that Schmidt’s support for the Clinton campaign dated as far back as 2015. The emails illustrate a close relationship between Schmidt and Clinton insiders, notably Bill Clinton and John Podesta, the Clinton campaign’s Chief of Staff.

One very early email exchange dating from 2014 shows Schmidt extending advice to Clinton campaign insiders on the best way to structure the entire campaign from the ground up. Robby Mook responded to Cheryl Mills regarding Schmidt’s suggestions by writing: “This is great and there’s a lot of helpful stuff in here but I think he and his effort should be focused on building the needed tools and not encompass campaign structure and launch dates, etc.”

Schmidt’s involvement in Democrat Party politics did not end with his instrumental role the Clinton campaign. He has been a regular speaker at Clinton Global Initiative events. According to The Washington Post, Schmidt joined Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, and election lawyer Marc Elias as a panel member of the Democratic Victory Taskforce. Though he is most well known politically for his involvement in Democratic establishment circles, over the years, Schmidt has funded politicians on both sides of the aisle.

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