Larry Page attended a Montessori school in the primary grades and later graduated from East Lansing High School. He was an honors student at the University of Michigan, where he also participated in the University's solar car team, reflecting another lifelong interest: sustainable transportation technology. After graduating with a B.S. in computer engineering, he pursued graduate studies in computer science at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. It was here that he first undertook the project of analyzing patterns of linkage among different sites on the World Wide Web. It was also at Stanford that he first met fellow computer science graduate student Sergey Brin and recruited him to join his research project.
Sergey Brin was born in Moscow, Russia in 1973. He immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of six and grew up in Adelphi, Maryland. His father, Michael Brin, was a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland. Like Larry Page, he attended a Montessori school as a small child. He graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in 1990 and entered the University of Maryland, College Park. In only three years, he graduated with highest honors in mathematics and computer science. He entered graduate school at Stanford University with a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
Together, Page and Brin wrote the paper "Dynamic Data Mining: A New Architecture for Data with High Dimensionality," and followed it with "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine." The latter paper quickly became one of the most downloaded scientific documents in the history of the Internet. For a time, Page and Brin ran the prototype of their search engine, which they named "BackRub," on an assortment of inexpensive personal computers stored in Larry Page's dorm room. Word quickly spread beyond the walls of Stanford that the two graduate students had created something far more useful than existing search technology.
They registered the domain name Google.com in 1997. The domain name was derived from the term "googol," the very large number written as a one followed by 100 zeros, an expression of the vast universe of data the Google search engine was designed to explore. Page and Brin incorporated Google as a privately held company in 1998 and relocated their servers from Larry Page's dorm room to a friend's garage in Menlo Park, California. Having completed their Master's degrees, they took a leave of absence from the Ph.D. program to concentrate on building their business. At first, Larry Page served as the company's CEO, Sergey Brin as its president. Their stated mission was "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." After quickly outgrowing a series of office locations, the company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View, California in 1999. Google has since purchased the entire property, known as the Googleplex, one of the most unusual and innovative workplaces in the world, replete with exercise and recreational facilities.
By 2001, a vast number of once-promising Internet start-ups had folded, but Google was growing explosively and turning a profit. Page and Brin recruited Novell executive Eric Schmidt to serve as CEO, with Larry Page taking the role of President for Products, and Sergey Brin as President for Technology. The three have continued to run the enterprise as a triumvirate ever since. Google's initial public offering in 2004 raised $1.67 billion, giving the company a market capitalization of $23 billion. A number of Google employees with shares in the company became millionaires overnight, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin found themselves multi-billionaires at age 27. Google was an immediate favorite with individual shareholders -- as opposed to institutional investors and mutual funds -- and the stock price has soared. All three top executives -- Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt -- have reduced their annual salaries to a dollar a year and refused bonuses, tying their personal wealth directly to the company's performance in the stock market.
In addition to its in-house product development, Google has also grown through strategic acquisitions of hardware and software companies with innovative video, teleconferencing and social networking products. One of the most dramatic of these was the 2006 purchase of the online video site YouTube for $1.65 billion. Prior to the sale, YouTube's earnings were negligible, but Google quickly turned it into a profit center.
In recent years, Google has introduced a number of popular new services and applications, including a toolbar that allows users to perform searches from their desktops, without visiting the Google Web site. The Web site itself enables searches for video and still imagery as well as text. Google Maps is a popular navigation tool, while Google Earth allows users to access satellite imagery to zoom in on locations all over the world. The most ambitious project of all, Google Book Search, aims to make the contents of vast libraries of books available and searchable online. Google Books offers free access to books that are already in the public domain, while selling digital versions of new books online.
Today, Google is the Internet's most visited Web site, employing more than a million servers around the world to process over a billion search requests every day, accessing an index of trillions of Web pages. There are advertising and engineering offices in New York City, and satellite offices in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Austin, Boulder, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and on the campus of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Google has consistently supported the principle of "net neutrality" that requires broadband carriers to treat all Web sites equally, but Google spokesmen caution Internet users against unrealistic expectations of online privacy. The future of the Internet, they maintain, will embody a principle of "true transparency, no anonymity." Meanwhile, Google seeks the expansion of broadband access. It provides free wireless broadband service throughout the city of Mountain View, and is exploring the possibility of expanding to other cities.
In 2011, Eric Schmidt stepped aside as CEO of Google, and Larry Page, now 38 years old, took the helm of the company he founded 13 years before. Schmidt remains with the company as Executive Chairman. As Google's new CEO, Larry Page plans to make Google "a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion of a start-up."
(See Sergey Brin address the Academy of Achievement at
the 2014 International Achievement Summit in San Francsico.)