Eric Schmidt expects another 10 years at Google

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Google’s Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said he expected to spend another 10 years at the company, after his surprise handover last week to co-founder Larry Page.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt gestures during his speech at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Munich January 25, 2011. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Schmidt, who from April will focus on deals and government outreach as executive chairman, also said the group would hire thousands of people this year, rejecting accusations that it has struggled to keep its best talent from leaving for Facebook and other Silicon Valley rivals.

“I’m very personally excited about my next decade at Google,” Schmidt, who oversaw Google’s meteoric rise, told the DLD media conference in Munich on Tuesday.

He told Reuters on January 21 that his move was an effort to speed up decision-making.

“In strategy we agree. There’s no disagreement,” Schmidt said of his relationship with Page, in a news conference following his DLD appearance.

“In character, he’s fundamentally a deeper thinker than anybody else,” he said. “He sees a few moves deeper than I do.”

Schmidt is also set to get a $100 million equity award, his first since joining the company in 2001, which will vest over four years and includes stock units and options.

Google last week reported earnings and revenue that far exceeded expectations.

But while Google has dominated Internet search, it has struggled with social networking and is facing stiff competition from companies like Facebook and Twitter, which are stealing web traffic and perceived to be poaching engineering talent.

Schmidt rejected the notion that Google was losing key people. “Our retention has been actually the same and our turnover has been exactly the same for seven years,” he said. “We’re going to be hiring many thousands of people this year.”

Schmidt said that in his new role he would be able to spend more time on government issues and Google’s public image, among other things.

“We’ve got very complicated government issues, he said, adding however that Google’s position in China appeared to be stable for the time being, following a renewal of its license there last June.

Google threatened to pull out of China after a high-profile hacking incident but eventually came to an agreement with the government and now runs a reduced service.

“I think it’s stable, he said, before adding: “You never know. It’s possible for the government of China to cause us not to work.”

Schmidt said Google had considered stopping indexing confidential cables released by WikiLeaks, but had decided to carry on. Some other U.S. organizations have bowed to government pressure to stop cooperating with the controversial site.

“Has Google looked at the appropriateness of indexing WikiLeaks? The answer is yes, and we decided to continue,” he said. “Because it’s legal.”

Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Jane Merriman and Jon Loades-Carter