Eric Schmidt is the multibillionaire executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
The former Google CEO will be speaking about artificial intelligence at the 2017 RSA Conference, a yearly gathering of cybersecurity professionals, in San Francisco on Feb. 15. During his talk, which is entitled “The Great A.I. Awakening,” Schmidt, 61, will address questions about how artificial intelligence is being used to fight hackers today and how it will transform the security industry in the future, according to the conference agenda.
Keep reading for Schmidt’s thoughts on artificial intelligence along with details of his net worth, political views, and playboy lifestyle.
1. He’s a Major Advocate of Artificial Intelligence
Unlike fellow tech billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates, who have voiced concerns about artificial intelligence evolving to a point that humans can no longer control it, Schmidt doesn’t have reservations about the technology.
“Manufacturing is lot safer than it was a few decades ago because machines are doing the dangerous stuff that humans shouldn’t be doing,” he said in November, according to Fortune. “Repetitive jobs, the jobs we don’t want to do, will be replaced. Our biggest existential threat is nuclear war. I strongly disagree with the line of thinking [that it is artificial intelligence].”
In a 2016 Fortune editorial titled “Let’s Stop Freaking Out About Artificial Intelligence,” Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun, computer science professor and director of the AI Lab at Stanford, argued that “the hypothetical, long-term concerns are far outweighed by our excitement for the endless possibilities.”
“We can’t wait to see AI free us of mindless, menial work and empower us to unfold our true creative powers,” they wrote.
2. He’s One of The Richest People in The US
As of January 2017, Schmidt had an estimated net worth of $11.6 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 36th richest person in America and the 19th richest person in tech. He racked up the bulk of his wealth through Google/Alphabet stock options.
Schmidt was rich before even taking the helm of Google, though, having served before that as CEO of Novell and chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems.
He joined Google in 2001 as its CEO and initially earned $250,000 a year plus an annual bonus. By 2004, Schmidt and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided their significant stake in the company was enough compensation. The trio followed Apple CEO Steve Jobs‘s lead, each taking an annual salary of $1.
Schmidt added an extra $334 million in his bank account in 2011 after selling approximately 534,000 shares of Google common stock when he stepped down as the company’s CEO and took on the role of executive chairman, according to PCMag. Google in August 2015 created Alphabet, a new parent company, which oversees the search giant and all its side projects.
3. He’s an Outspoken Democrat and Helped Hillary Clinton Plan Her 2016 Presidential Campaign
Emails leaked last year revealed that Schmidt helped Hillary Clinton plan her 2016 presidential campaign. An April 2014 email from Schmidt to a Clinton aide with the subject line ‘2016 Thoughts’ laid out the framework for a 2016 presidential campaign, covering things like voter turnout and voter identification.
“If we get started soon, we will be in a very strong position to execute well for 2016,” he wrote in the email.
Email leaks have also shown that Schmidt funded a Brooklyn-based startup called Groundwork that was a technology vendor for the Clinton campaign.
Quartz, citing federal campaign finance disclosures, in early November 2016 reported that Groundwork was the Clinton campaign’s “top technology vendor, earning more than $600,000 in fees since the campaign began.” The startup developed technology to manage campaign data and engage voters.
With Donald Trump now in the White House, Schmidt is ready to move on and has said America needs to come together as a nation once again.
“I completely congratulate the next president of the United States,” he said in November at the New York Times’ annual Dealbook conference, according to Fortune. “Most people did not expect this outcome. And it is a pretty amazing story. My support was for the other side. I was surprised.”
4. He Collects Real Estate, Art & Has a $72 Million Yacht
Schmidt has a fat bank account and he’s definitely not frugal.
He has an impressive collection of real estate, including a $15 million penthouse in New York City’s Flatiron district, a 9,182-square-foot “French chateau” in Los Angeles just down the street from the Playboy Mansion, and a $20 million property in Montecito, Calif. purchased from Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi in 2007, according to Business Insider. His main residence is a 4,800-square-foot mansion in Atherton, Calif. worth an estimated $6.97 million.
Schmidt also likes to invest in art. So much, in fact, that ARTnews in 2008 named him among the world’s top collectors, noting he favors modern and contemporary pieces.
He’s also got a few big-ticket toys, including a Gulfstream V jet and 194-foot yacht. Purchased in 2009, the yacht, named “Oasis,” sleeps 19, has a pool, and a “gym that turns into a disco,” according to Page Six.
5. He’s Been Married For More Than Three Decades But Has a Reputation as a Playboy
Schmidt married wife Wendy, a fellow Berkeley student, in 1980 and the pair have two adult daughters together: Sophie and Allison. Despite having more than three decades of marriage under his belt, a boring family man, he is not.
A 2014 GQ piece on Schmidt described the executive’s reputation as a playboy who enjoys attending the Burning Man music and art festival (he initially connected with Google founders Brin and Page there). Numerous reports have detailed the executive’s penchant for women other than his wife, with whom he is said to have an open marriage.
His list of lovers, according to GQ, has included former CNBC correspondent Kate Bohner; Vietnamese pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen; and Lisa Shields, an executive for the Council on Foreign Relations. During their courtship, Schmidt now infamously gave Bohner his personal iPhone, which was a prototype at the time, infuriating Steve Jobs.