Google's one-time "adult supervisor" is getting closer to retirement. Eric Schmidt, who took over as CEO in 2001 three years after investors demanded more mature leadership for the fast-growing tech giant, is stepping down as executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet in January. The 62-year-old billionaire will become a technical adviser and will continue to sit on the board of the company that was formed to contain Google and its sprawling so-called "moonshot" subsidiary businesses in 2015. Schmidt, a former engineer who held top executive jobs at Sun Microsystems Inc. and Novell Inc., took the reins of the search giant in 2001 from founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were technically brilliant but were faulted for their management inexperience. Page was restored as CEO in 2011, announced in a surprise move as the company reported quarterly earnings. Schmidt at the time said "I believe Larry is ready" to be CEO, adding, "It's time for him to have a shot at running this." Schmidt said in a statement Thursday. "In recent years, I've been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work."