The birth of Google: When Larry Page met Sergey Brin

A chance meeting of two computer science students led to the launch of the world’s most popular internet search engine.

Google has consistently achieved more than 88% market share since the collection of relevant data began in January 2009.

Released in June 2023, the latest data revealed Google had 4.3 billion users globally out of a total 4.72 billion internet users – so, their market share had grown to 92%. There are around 40,000 Google search queries per second, totalling more than 3.5 billion searches daily.

© Evan Lorne / 

On any average day, 3.6 million people in the UK use Google to search for work, 3.2 million people look for YouTube videos to learn about health and fitness and 3.7 million people use Google Maps to locate a local business.

Google is truly a phenomenon, not least because it’s constantly striving for a better user experience. It aims to increase page speeds for all websites, as research shows 53% of users will abandon a site if it hasn’t loaded after three seconds.

Who is the founder of Google?

American students Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998 in Menlo Park, California. The fledgling company grew rapidly from its humble beginnings, receiving $25 million of venture capital funding just one year after its launch.

At this point, it was already processing 500,000 queries a day, but five years later, the number of searches had grown to 200 million. Google’s success has continued relentlessly, making its founders billionaires who are among the world’s top ten richest people today.

When Larry Page met Sergey Brin, they were both graduate students at Stanford University, California.

Born in March 1973, in Lansing, Michigan, Page came from a family with a background in computing. His father, Carl, was a computer science professor, while his mother, Gloria, taught computer programming.

Page, described in the media as a “pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence”, grew up surrounded by computers, science and technology. He fully immersed himself in an atmosphere that inspired creativity and invention.

Brin was born in August 1973 in Moscow in the Soviet Union. His father Mikhail and mother Eugenia were both graduates of Moscow State University. After emigrating to the US in 1979, Mikhail taught maths at the University of Maryland and Eugenia became a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.

Brin also had a background in computing, enrolling at the University of Maryland in September 1990. He achieved his Bachelor of Science with honours from the Department of Computer Science in 1993, aged 19.

He then enrolled at Stanford University to study computer science on a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship. Page had also enrolled at Stanford University on a computer science PhD programme, and they met during the course of their studies.

When was Google founded?

While searching for his dissertation theme in 1995, Page considered studying the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web. He explored how web pages could link to any given page, studying the nature and number of the backlinks and the valuable information they provided.

Fellow student Brin joined Page’s research project, which was nicknamed BackRub. Their research paper, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, went on to become one of the most downloaded scientific documents in history.

They developed the theory that the Web was based on the premise of citation, arguing that a link was a citation. Their aim was to devise a method of counting and qualifying every backlink to make the Web a “more valuable place”.

At the time, there were an estimated 10 million documents on the Web, with an unknown number of links between them. The computer resources needed to crawl this number of documents were well beyond the usual remit of a student project.

Page began building his crawler, which appealed to Brin due to its complexity and massive scale. Prior to this, he hadn’t settled on a thesis topic, but was fascinated by BackRub. Brin later said it was the “most exciting project” he had developed.

The duo also became friends while developing BackRub, spending countless hours meeting to progress the project further.

The search engine was first launched only for users at Stanford on the university’s website. In August 1996, this early version of what later became Google was made available to other internet users.

Growth of Google

The idea was to leverage Web users’ own ranking abilities by tracking each website’s backlinks.

This made Google stand out from its competitors, as it incorporated the search function into the number of links each site had. It was logical that a website with thousands of links was more valuable than one with just a few links. This placed the heavily linked site higher on the list.

The name Google was derived from their original planned name, Googol, which is a mathematical term describing a number one followed by 100 zeroes.

The technology behind Google was an application known as PageRank. Their work resulted in a link analysis algorithm determining the value of each individual web page.

Creating the new company wasn’t without obstacles. Initially, they worked from a friend’s garage in Palo Alto, California. It wasn’t cheap to launch Google and they needed to raise around $1 million in startup funding, which they finally achieved with the help of family, friends and other investors.

They set up a shop in Menlo Park, California, running Google as co-presidents until 2001. The company expanded dramatically and after Google became a publicly traded company in 2004, the rapid growth of its stock price made both founders billionaires.

In 2015, Google restructured into a new holding company, known as Alphabet Inc. Brin and Page became president and CEO respectively. In 2019, both left their posts during a further restructuring, but remained on Alphabet’s board of directors.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin net worth

Analysts have attributed Google’s success to the fact it is constantly improving flagship products. While this is a basic business practice, Google is dedicated to continuous innovation. It is part of the company’s mission, empowering its employees to be creative.

In addition, the rapid growth of internet advertising in general has further fuelled its success. There has been a huge shift in spend towards the internet, rather than using traditional media, such as magazines and newspapers.

Today, Google’s net worth is an estimated $1,359 billion. Page’s individual net worth is around $112 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index. This makes him the world’s eighth-richest person. Brin has an estimated net worth of $107 billion, making him the ninth-richest person in the world.

Page and Brin remain at Alphabet as co-founders, board members and controlling shareholders.

Google continues to grab the biggest market share of users, with 71% of Brits saying they believe Google Search gives them more relevant results than any other search engine. In total, Google supports more than £60 billion in the UK economy, according to economists.

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