The road to Eric Schmidt's departure from the role of CEO at Google apparently began when the search giant decided to pull out of China, with Schmidt disappointed at co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin siding against him and withdraw censored searches in the country. According to the New Yorker's sources, Schmidt felt strongly that Google should stay in China, and "lost some energy and focus after losing the China decision."
That loss of focus coincided with difficult times at Google, with the company seeing engineers jump ship to Facebook and other, smaller firms; governments, meanwhile, had begun criticizing its stance on privacy and copyright. Schmidt considered leaving, it's claimed, but was encouraged to stay and "reboot" by both a member of the Google board and an "outside advisor."
When that reboot failed to succeed, the sources suggest, Schmidt decided it was definitely time to leave; that, it's claimed came at around the end of 2010. He will take up the role of executive chairman from April 4 2011 but, according to an advisor, only intends to remain in that position for a year, before looking to leave Google and do something else.