How do you find information about a topic in this day and age? Why, you Google it of course! The fact you can do this is all down to two men, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google has become almost synonymous with the Internet, and is by far the most visited website in the world. But how did two computer scientists go from doing their Ph.D thesis to developing a search engine that is used on average 400 million times every day?
Larry Page started his life in 1973 in Michigan. 41 years later, Larry Page is now co-founder of one of the most valuable technology companies in the world and currently acts as chief executive officer. He has reaped many rewards for his genius, including a net worth of around $32.8 billion USD, enough to put him amongst the top 20 richest people on Earth (number 19 on Forbes list of billionaires).
But how did Google start? After graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science Award in Computer Science, Page headed off to Stanford University to pursue a Master of Science Award in the same subject. After completing this, he went on to his Ph.D, but got a bit stuck when choosing his dissertation topic. After some deliberation and a little encouragement from his supervisor, Page began investigating the World Wide Web, looking at the amount and type of backlinks to specific web pages as valuable information into the quality of the web page. Sergey Brin joined Page on this project and they began developing a way to count each backlink to a web page and rank the page based on the quantity and quality of the backlinks. Page and Brin concluded that, if they could develop a successful method, this would make the World Wide Web a better place to find valuable information. As you may have guessed, they succeeded.
Here are 5 fascinating facts about the genius that is Larry Page.
It may surprise you, but computers weren't always so readily available in 1980, in fact, they didn't really take off at a commercial level until the mid 1980s. So not many kids back before 1980 can say they grew up with computers, but Larry Page is one of them. This is mainly down to his father, Carl Page. Before Larry had even been born, his father was already pioneering the newly established field of computer science, having earned a Ph.D in the subject back in 1965. His profession followed suit, with him teaching computer science at Michigan State University throughout Larry’s childhood. This is the foundation for Larry Page’s interest in technology.
According to Larry, he was interested in computers from the age of 6. His father would always leave his bits and pieces about, and their house was cluttered with computing equipment and science magazines. This meant Larry, as all curious children do, started playing with the scattered hardware that he found lying around. Accompanied by his brother, Larry would start taking everything he could find apart to see how it worked, and by the age of 12 he already knew he wanted to invent something and start his own company.
Whilst Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on their thesis regarding ranking pages based on their backlinks, they aptly named the project ‘BackRub’ in reference to the backlinks they were studying. When they were studying this, the World Wide Web had about 10 million different web pages, so the resource demands to crawl all these pages was pretty big. Page and Brin began work on an algorithm to convert their backlink data to a page ranking, and the foundation behind Google was born, PageRank.
Eventually, the prototype of Google was complete, and it was made available to the students at Stanford University in the summer of 1996. Larry Page was in his office along with his fellow graduate students one day and they were casually brainstorming name ideas for Larry’s new search engine. One of his fellow students suggested the name ‘googolplex’, which is the name for a number so large that it could never be physically written (it literally requires a zero to be written on more atoms than are available in the entire universe). Larry fired the word ‘googol’ back, and Sean went to check that the domain googol.com was available. A simple typo by Sean in typing in the web address is all it took for what we now know as Google to be born. Larry liked his typo, and registered the domain name with the day, and founded the company Google, Inc. a year later.
Shortly after founding their brand new start up enterprise, Google, Inc., the two co-founders decided to relocate their servers away from Larry Page’s dormitory. Let us put it this way, it wasn’t exactly a massive upgrade. After taking a leave of absence from their Ph.D studies to focus solely on their business ventures, Larry Page and Sergey Brin moved operations of Google, Inc. to their friend’s garage in California.
From this garage, Larry Page took on the role of chief executive officer, with Sergey Brin taking up the job title of President of Google. Then they set about their goal of “organizing the world’s information to make it usable and accessible.” Google soon began to grow, and turn a profit, so just over a year after their first relocation, Larry and Sergey moved on to greener pastures. They leased out a complex of office buildings in Mountain View, California, which they eventually purchased and occupy to this day.
This garage in California is a far cry from the world renowned Googleplex that the company operates from today. Whilst still in California, I’m guessing the garage they occupied didn't come complete with a gym, recreational center, laundry room, grand piano, two swimming pools, volleyball courts, lawn statues, and, above all else, a life size replica of a dinosaur skeleton. I hope Larry and Sergey’s friend doesn't mind me saying that their next upgrade was a much, much bigger one!
Larry Page is not your average thrill seeker, nor is he your average computer scientist. I guess being your average anything doesn’t allow you to build a multibillion dollar company. Despite spending his childhood years taking apart computers and learning about electronics, then spending his late teens and early twenties working on his computer science projects, Larry Page is a true thrill seeker.
There are multiple adrenaline fueled sports that Larry Page enjoys, but his favorite pastime is kite boarding. As you would expect from someone who came up with Google, he doesn't really do anything by halves. When he fancies a spot of kite boarding he doesn't just drive down to the beach, he hops on his private jet and off he flies to his favorite kite boarding destinations. Amongst these favorite spots is Richard Branson’s private island, Necker Island. Page is obviously quite fond of Branson’s private paradise, as he married his wife there back in 2007. In addition to Necker Island, Page also likes to jet off to Alaska for some adventure seeking, or maybe just to chill out on his $45 million USD private yacht.
Fun Fact: his yacht is 193 feet long and named ‘Senses’.
No, I didn’t miss a googolplex worth of zeroes off the end of that number. The chief executive officer of Google Larry Page, the chairman of Google Eric Schmidt, and the co-founder of Google Sergey Brin, earn a combined total of $3 USD worth of salary every year. This is a pay cut they opted in for themselves, and in addition to this they refuse bonuses.
Page, Brin, and Schmidt are among a number of top executives that pay themselves the absolute minimum wage of $1 a year. Amongst the others is Facebook king Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle’s Larry Ellison. One reason they do this is, since Google is a publicly listed company, they don’t want to be seen as sucking money out of the company. They tie the vast majority of their earnings to the value of the stock they hold, and therefore are known to always be working with the company’s best interests at heart. The more sinister reason they might pay themselves less is because they may gain some money from paying less tax.
Either way, Google’s CEO is technically earning less than you! Perhaps a bit more depressing is the fact that he earns $1 per year, yet is still a multi billionaire.