Eric Schmidt

Technologist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.


Ranked #21 in 2009.

Previous positions:

#3 (2019), #13 (2017), #16 (2015), #15 (2013), and #35 (2011).


Visited North Korea, controversially, in 2013.


Chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.


As CEO from 2001, Schmidt shepherded Google from start-up to global icon. Together with Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, he oversaw the company’s technical and business strategies, dramatically scaled its infrastructure, and diversified its product offerings while maintaining a strong culture of innovation. In How Google Works, Schmidt and co-author Jonathan Rosenberg reveal the recipe for their “secret sauce”: how Google innovates and how it empowers its employees to succeed. They also explain how the confluence of three seismic changes – the internet, mobile, and cloud computing – has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers. In The New Digital Age, with Jared Cohen, Schmidt discusses the geopolitical implications of increasingly widespread internet use, new technologies, and access to information.  


Born in Virginia, Schmidt spent part of his childhood in Italy. At Princeton University he majored first in architecture then switched to electrical engineering. His PhD dissertation, at the University of California, Berkeley, focused on managing distributed software development and how to solve its problems. His professional career began with positions at Byrzromotti Design, Bell Labs, Zilog, and the Palo Alto Research Center. In 1983, he joined Sun Microsystems, rising to become president of Sun Technology Enterprises, and in 1997, he became CEO and chairman of the board at Novell, before joining Google as board chair and CEO in 2001. In 2011, he took the role of company executive chairman, a position he held until 2017. Schmidt’s philanthropic work centres around Schmidt Futures, which he co-founded with his wife in 2017.


The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business (with Jared Cohen, John Murray, 2013); How Google Works (with Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle, John Murray, 2014); Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Handbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell (with Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle, John Murray, 2019); The Age of AI: And Our Human Future (with Henry Kissinger and Daniel Huttenlocher, John Murray, 2021).


Media picks


“One of Silicon Valley’s great innovators and an imaginative management thinker.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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