After 11 years at the helm, the iconic duo of Silicon valley is releasing its tight grip on the direction of Google. Sergey Brin and Larry Page both came to Stanford in the 1990s to pursue graduate degrees in computer science. In 1996 they started Google, the company some people worry will eventually take over the world (but right now, Google seems to just be interested in “not being evil” and providing better access to the information of the world).According to a recent MarketWatch [article by John Letzing](http://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-co-founders-to-sell-55-bln-in-stock-2010-01-22?link=kiosk "MarketWatch.com - Google"), Page and Brin hold approximately 59% of the voting power in the company. Over the course of the next five years they will decrease their combined voting power to about 48% by selling about 5,000,000 shares of stock each. If Google’s stock price remains constant (which it most definitely will not) the founders would be able to add an extra 2.75 billion dollars to their current [12 billion dollar fortunes](http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/10/billionaires-2009-richest-people_The-Worlds-Billionaires_Rank_2.html "Forbes Billionaires list"). Letzing quotes someone who states that the move is part of “long-term strategies for individual asset diversification and liquidity,” for the founders.
The founders have stepped back from the helm at an exciting time, though. Google has recently entered the market for mobile operating systems and is developing its own desktop operating system, Chrome OS. Google’s operating system on the new Nexus One mobile phone even censors foul language in its voice-to-text feature. The company continues to diversify and enter new technology markets so that it can compete with firms like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Apple. In the search market, Google still holds 72% of the market share. The next closest search engine is Yahoo at about 14%.
But Google is now apparently also competing against China. Experts at Google believe that the Chinese government could have been behind a massive cyber-attack against multiple U.S. companies doing business in China. The Obama administration has yet to make a strong move on the matter though, so Google might be on its own for now.
All of this being said, 48% voting power still gives Page and Brin considerable influence in the company. Little will probably change.