Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down from their roles within the parent company, Alphabet.

Sundar Pichai, who has been leading Google as CEO for more than four years, will stay in his role and also become CEO of Alphabet.

Page was Alphabet’s CEO, while Brin was its president. Both have been noticeably absent from company events in recent months, with neither appearing at the weekly question-and-answer sessions with employees. Page didn’t attend this summer’s Alphabet shareholders meeting even though he was still in the CEO role.

They announced the news in a Google blog post Tuesday, saying the company has “evolved and matured” in the two decades since its founding.

“Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost,” they said.

“While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents — offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!”

Google’s stock increased less than one per cent in after-hours trading after news was announced that the company co-founders were stepping down from their roles at parent company Alphabet. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Page and Brin started the search engine giant in 1998 in California’s Silicon Valley.

Alphabet, which also owns self-driving car technology company Waymo, health-care software firm Verily and several other businesses, emerged in 2015 as part of a corporate restructuring. Page had wanted to focus on those newer businesses while leaving operational decisions at Alphabet’s biggest unit, Google, to Pichai.

Both founders promised they plan to stay actively involved as board members and shareholders, and lauded Pichai for his leadership of the company.

The pair still hold more than 50 per cent voting shares of Alphabet. According to an Alphabet SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) filing in April, Page holds 42.9 per cent of the company’s Class B shares and 26.1 per cent of its voting power. Brin holds 41.3 per cent of the Class B shares and 25.2 per cent of the voting power.

Google has nearly doubled its headcount since Pichai took over as chief executive, growing from a company of 59,000 employees to 114,000 now.

Google’s stock increased less than one per cent in after-hours trading after the news was announced.

Brin and Page met as Stanford University graduate students in 1995 and started the company soon after. What started as a way to catalog the growing internet has now become one of the most powerful companies in the world. Google dominates online search and digital advertising. It’s hard to make it through a whole day without using one of Google’s services — ranging from online tools to email, cloud computing systems, phones and smart speaker hardware.

Page dropped out of graduate school at Stanford to start Google and doesn’t have a business degree. He grew up in Michigan, where his late father, Carl, was a computer scientist and pioneer in artificial intelligence, and his mother taught computer programming. Page began working on personal computers when he was just 6 years old in 1979, when home computers were a rarity. The geeky impulses carried into his adulthood, leading him to once build an inkjet printer out of Legos.