Eric Schmidt today shocked the tech world by announcing that he is ending his 10-year stint as Google CEO.

The long-time figurehead will hand over the reigns to co-founder Larry Page on April 4th, according to a post on the company's blog this evening.

The surprising news came as the company announced a massive $2.54 billion net income for the last quarter of 2010 and just days after old pal Steve Jobs also announced a leave of absence from Apple.

Simplifying management

Schmidt, who becomes "Executive Chairman" and will now be working on strategic aspects of the company, says the move will "simplify the management structure" which had become too complicated.

Speaking via the official blog Schmidt says: "When I joined Google in 2001 I never imagined—even in my wildest dreams—that we would get as far, as fast as we have today.

"Search has quite literally changed people's lives—increasing the collective sum of the world's knowledge and revolutionizing advertising in the process. And our emerging businesses—display, Android, YouTube and Chrome—are on fire. Of course, like any successful organization we've had our fair share of good luck, but the entire team—now over 24,000 Googlers globally—deserves most of the credit.

"And as our results today show, the outlook is bright. But as Google has grown, managing the business has become more complicated.

"So Larry, Sergey and I have been talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making—and over the holidays we decided now was the right moment to make some changes to the way we are structured.

"For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions. This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us.

"But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there's clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company."

Ready to lead

The new Executive Chairman says long-time colleague Larry Page is "ready to lead" the company onto bigger and better things as leader of "product development and technology strategy."

Sergey Brin will continue with the title of Co-Founder, working on new products.

What a couple of days it has been for the CEO's of two of the biggest tech companies in the world. We'll have more on Google's Q4 earnings shortly.