Most of those NOT born in a barn have certainly heard of Google. However, the two young men responsible for the world’s largest Internet search engine may not be as well-known to many. Known by those in the technical community as “Geeks Gone Wild,” Sergey Brin and Larry Page, are No. 32 ($18.7 billion) and 33 ($18.6 billion) respectively on the 2008 list of Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.
Obviously, things weren’t always that way. The co-founders first met as Stanford University graduate students in computer science in the summer of 1995. Sergey was in a group of potential new students which Brin had volunteered to show around the campus. They actually weren’t very fond of one another until they found a common interest retrieving relevant information from large data sets. They went on to co-author what is widely considered their seminal contribution, a paper entitled “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.” The paper has since gone on to become the tenth-most accessed scientific paper at Stanford University.
In August 1996 the initial version of Google was made available, still on the Stanford University website. Although they don’t quite qualify as a “rags to riches” story, they did share a humble beginning by renting a garage in Menlo Park, California, for $1,700 a month. Today they boast four core buildings, fondly called Googleplex, in Mountain View, California, totaling 506,317 square feet as well as branch offices all over the globe. This complex must be seen to be believed. We’ll tell you more about this unique culture in a future article. The original two employees now lead a staff of about 17,000 full-time employees.
That growth is a result of the fact that this dynamic duo have virtually cornered the search engine market, holding about 58% of the market while their next two competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft, hold 22% and 9% respectively. Even if these two competitors were to join together they would still trail Google by 27%. They also extended ad business into TV, cell phones, and various online venues; they bought Web video portal YouTube for $1.65 billion last year and recently partnered with EchoStar, LG Electronics, Salesforce.com.
Page and Brin ran Google as co-presidents until 2001 when they hired Eric Schmidt to become Chairman and CEO of Google. Now that Google is the world’s entry point to the Internet, Google plans to become the world’s dominant advertising broker, the world’s dominant social network, the world’s dominant mobile supplier, and the world’s dominant product of alternative energy. Talk about ambitious goals!
Now let’s take a look at the co-founders individually:
- Mikkhailovich (Sergey) Brin is a 35-year-old Russian-born American entrepreneur.
- Brin was born in Moscow in 1973 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1979 at the age of 6 with his mathematician parents. His father gained work as a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland and his mother went on to work at NASA.
- He attended grade school at a Montessori School in Maryland, received further education at home, attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School, and enrolled in the University of Maryland to study computer science and mathematics, where he received his B.S. degree in 1993 with high honors.
- Brin began his graduate study in computer science at Stanford University on a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation. He earned his Master’s degree in August 1995 ahead of schedule in the process of his Ph.D. studies.
- Brin has also received an honorary MBA from the IE Business School.
- Brin expressed interest in the Internet very early on in his studies at Stanford. He authored and co-authored various papers on data-mining and pattern extraction. He also wrote software to ease the process of putting scientific papers often written in TeX, a text-processing language, into HTML form, as well as a website for film ratings.
- While studying for his Ph.D., he met Lawrence Page and went on to work with him on a project to organize the Internet and improve the way people search for information. They first nicknamed the project “BackRub” as it relied heavily on the number and relevancy of links pointing to a website.
- Brin has appeared on television shows and many documentaries, including Charlie Rose, CNBC, and CNN. In 2004, he and Larry Page were named “Persons of the Week” by ABC World News Tonight. In January 2005 Sergey Brin was nominated to be one of the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leaders.”
- In 2007, Brin was cited by PC World as #1 on a list of the “50 most important people on the Web,” along with Larry Page and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
- In May 2007, Brin married Anne Wojcicki in the Bahamas. Wojcicki is a biotech analyst and a 1996 graduate of Yale University with a degree in biology. She co-founded 23andMe, a personal DNA genotyping service.
- He is also an investor in Tesla Motors, which is developing the Tesla Roadster, a 221-mile-range battery electric vehicle. He has also placed an order for the Roadster. It is reported by Conde Nast Portfolio that Brin drives a Toyota Prius.
- In June 2008, it was announced that Brin had made a $5 million investment in Space Adventures, the Virginia-based space tourism company. His investment will serve as a deposit for a reservation on one of Space Adventures’ proposed flights in 2011. So far, Space Adventures has sent five tourists into space.
- Brin currently holds the position of President of Technology at Google and has a net worth estimated at $18.5 billion as of March 9, 2007, making him the 26th richest person in the world and the 5th richest person in the United States. He is also the fourth-youngest billionaire in the world.
Lawrence Edward Page
- Lawrence Edward “Larry” Page is a 35-year-old U.S.-born American entrepreneur.
- Page was born in Lansing, Michigan, in 1973 to the late Dr. Carl Victor Page, a professor of computer science and artificial intelligence at Michigan State University and one of the University of Michigan’s first computer science Ph.D. graduates, and Gloria Page, a computer programming teacher at Michigan State University. Page is also the brother of Carl Victoer Page, Jr., a co-founder of eGroups, later sold to Yahoo! for approximately half a billion dollars.
- Page attended a Montessori school in Lansing, Michigan, and graduated from East Lansing High School. He holds a B.S. degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan with honors and a Master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University.
- While at the University of Michigan, Page created an inkjet printer made of Lego bricks. He was also a member of the solar car team and served as the President of the HKN, a national electrical and computer engineering honor society.
- After enrolling for a Ph.D. program in computer science at Stamford, Page was in search for a dissertation theme and considered exploring the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web. His supervisor encouraged him to pursue this idea, and Page later recalled this as the “best advice I ever got.” He focused on the problem of finding out which web pages link to a given page, considering the number and nature of such backlinks to be valuable information about that page.
- Sergey Brin soon joined Page in his research project, nicknamed “BackRub.” They developed the Page Rank algorithm and realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to existing ones.
- In 2007, Page was cited by PC World as #1 on the list of the 50 most important people on the web, along with Brin and Schmidt.
- Page is also an investor in Tesla Motors, which developed the Tesla Roadster, a 250-mile-range battery electric vehicle.
- Page currently holds the position of President of Products at Google and has an estimated net worth of $18.5 billion, placing him at rank 26 on Forbes’s list of the richest persons in the world, together with Brin.
- The World Economic Forum named Page as a Global Leader for Tomorrow, and The X PRIZE chose Page as a trustee for their board.
- Page married Lucinda Southworth at Richard Branson’s Caribbean island, Necker Island, on December 8, 2007.