SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 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 Google events in the past year. Both stopped making appearances at the weekly question-and-answer sessions with employees, and Page didn't attend this summer's Alphabet shareholder's meeting even though he was still in the CEO role.

Alphabet has been positioning Pichai as the de facto leader for quite some time -- making him the top executive voice at company shareholders meetings, on earnings call and as a spokesman at Congressional hearings.

Page and Brin 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.

Page and Brin started the search giant in 1998 in Silicon Valley.

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% voting shares of Alphabet. According to an Alphabet SEC filing in April, Page holds 42.9% of the company's Class B shares and 26.1% of its voting power. Brin holds 41.3% of the Class B shares and 25.2% 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 1% in after-hours trading after the news was announced.

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