Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page disclosed on Friday that they plan to give up their majority control of the internet group over the next five years.
Their planned stock sales, revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, will mark a highly symbolic end to their formal control over the company they founded in their Stanford University dorm room 11 years ago.
However, for all practical purposes they will still be in a position to call the shots at Google on important matters, since they will still speak for 48 per cent of the voting rights at the company between them.
Under the arrangements announced on Friday, Mr Brin and Mr Page, both 36, will each realise multi-billion dollar profits from their Google stakes.
The dual-class share structure that has left the founders in control of the company, in spite of having a combined economic interest of only 18 per cent, has been controversial with corporate governance activists since Google went public in 2004. Such arrangements are used mainly in the media industry by founding families looking to keep control of their empires as their financial interest becomes diluted, and have been criticised for leading to entrenched managements and underperforming share prices.
Read More: By Richard Waters, Financial Times