By March 2010 Forbes ranked him 117 amongst the world’s most elite and richest people in the world. Tied along side with Rupert Murdoch; Dr. Eric Emerson Schmidt boasted a total net worth of 6.3 billion US, surpassing his 2009, 125th spot by a cool 1.9 billion; not bad for only 365 days. Schmidt, current CEO of Google Inc, is a quiet, yet powerful and influential man, with a history that could very well make him one of the most important men in the computing and Internet world today.
Born April 27, 1955 in the United States capital, Washington D.C. Dr. Eric Emerson Schmidt spent most of his early childhood in Northern Virginia, and Italy, where his father taught at John Hopkins in Bologna. After only two short years, spent during his third and fourth grade, while overseas, by 1965 he was relocated back to the United States, in Blacksburg, Virginia, where his father was appointed chairman of the Department of Economics at Virginia Tech.
As a young boy, Schmidt was very technically adept, spending most of his time dissembling and reassembling things. At the ripe age of fifteen, while he attended Yorktown High School, he got his first exposure to computing, utilizing the school’s time-shared terminal on an ASR-33 teletype machine. His father had been so impressed that he rented his very own terminal at home, where Schmidt continued working for the school, rewriting software, which at that time consisted of only tape with punched holes.
Interestingly, Schmidt hadn’t always been interested in computers or electronics, which is actually what, led him to apply at one of the top Ivy League institutes, Princeton University. After just barely being missed by the Vietnam War draft, which later played a major role in his political views, he decided to skip a grade, so he could pursue a career in architecture. It was during his senior year at Yorktown that he discovered his true calling, which led him into the field of engineering. After graduating he had considered both MIT and Princeton; but in 1972, he applied to the Jersey based University. Four years later, in the summer of 1976, Schmidt graduated, earning a Bachelor Degree of Engineering
After, Schmidt wanted to move to a warmer climate, such as California, which was partly due to his newly established position at Bell Labs, whom at the time were responsible for inventing UNIX. Schmidt also chose Northern California so he could attend Berkeley University, for their highly regarded computer science program. As his education and experience progressed, he also worked at Zilog, and a part time professor position, teaching at Stanford Business School.
During his time at Berkeley, he obtained his Master Degree in Science. It was also there that he worked with some of the greatest minds such as Bill Joy, lead designer that wrote the code that allowed UNIX to operate on an architecture dubbed ARPANET, which essentially was the defining moment the Internet was born.
Although, Schmidt was lucky enough to work with members like Joy, he had also developed his own connections, which he later became the junior researcher at Xerox’s infamous Palo Alto research center, while he continued toward his PhD in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Schmidt was soon exposed to cutting edge technology, such as word processors and integrated peripheral devices like printers; all interconnecting over a network system, similar to today’s Local Area Network (LAN).
Prior in 1982, Bill Joy went on to co-found Sun Microsystems, whereas the following year after his own graduation, Schmidt joined on where he eventually was appointed Chief Technology Officer. A position he held, throughout the design and deployment of the Java Software we have all come to know and love.
Later in 1997, he moved on to Novell, where his experience and business savvy landed him the top chair, Chief Executive Officer (CEO). A position he held until his departure in 2001, after an apparent disagreement over an acquisition of the Cambridge Technology Partner.
Shortly after his resignation Schmidt was interviewed by Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which they were so impressed that they offered him a position as chairman of the board of directors in March 2001. But, by August of the same year he was promoted as the company’s new CEO, where he has held his title ever since. At first, Shcmidt played a dominant role, overseeing new technology and development, which he soon discovered the true potential of what Goolgle could become. Since his arrival, Google has had such successes as Gmail (Google email), Google Wave, Android (mobile software), and Google Adsense, which also led to the acquisition of the online video website Youtube.
And, as if being a CEO was not enough, Schmidt was also elected to the competition’s (Apple Inc) board of directors, where he held his spot from August 28 2006 until he resigned three years later, stepping down on August 3, 2009. The decision is still rumoured over a bitterness between him and Steve Jobs, but Schmidt has only stated it was mainly due differences of opinion between Google and Apple.
Interestingly, Schmidt didn’t just settle for corporate domination. He also developed strong political ties, where he became an informal advisor to President Barack Obama, during the course of his 2008 presidential campaign. Obama had even considered him as a candidate for his newly assigned role as Chief Technology Officer. But, after winning his election, Obama assigned Schmidt to sit as a member of the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, also known as PCAST.
Development of the 70/20/10 Model, which is a business resource management model that factors company resources into ratios. The model is used to dictate innovation cultivation within an organization, which is broken down into three unique ratios:
-70% of time should be dedicated to core business tasks
-20% of time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business
-10% of time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business
Interestingly, despite Schmidt’s hefty annual earnings of well over 1 million dollars US (paid out as compensation from his various holdings and stock options), he opted in 2006 to accept a measly base salary of only one dollar. Google stated that Eric Schmidt no longer intended to take part in the company’s earnings anymore. However, Schmidt is still only one of a handful of other people who have reached billionaire status, solely by the means of stock options received as an employee in a corporation of which he neither founded nor was related to the founder.
Eric Schmidt, when he’s not busy making millions, he considers himself an avid art collector, ranking in the top 200 in 2007, according to ART news. Schmidt has claimed he occasionally enjoys building furniture, which is more of a hobby he picked up during his senior year of high school.
One of his other hobbies includes flying. Now, you would think having access to the corporate jet would be just another luxury of being among the elite, but for Schmidt, flying is one of his favourite past-times, especially when it means flying to the East Coast and Europe.
Eric, along with his wife Wendy established the Schmidt Family Foundation, an organization dedicated to restoring and preserving historical places and using new technology to improve the environment. The foundation’s mission is to make the world a better and healthier place to live, using knowledge and technology to improve health, education, transportation, and communications through investing in economic development that includes green, sustainable environmental practices and design.
Now, you might think being a CEO of a major multi billion dollar company, a certified Jet pilot, environmental advocate, and a member of PCAST would be plenty enough work for one man to shoulder. However, Schmidt is also an active board of trustee member for both Carnegie Mellon University and his home alma mater, Princeton University.
All one has to do is search his name or read the business section of any known publication, and Eric’s mug is bound to show up. But, despite all his wealth and success he maintains a fairly private lifestyle. Along with his wife Wendy, and his two children, they quietly reside in a modest twenty million dollar estate, in Atherton, California.