The Google Guys: Sergey Brin and Larry Page

They came from opposite ends of the earth to create a billion dollar company that has revolutionized the world. California-based Google Inc. has not only become the Internet’s most popular search engine with revenues of over $6 billion yearly, but the company has also undoubtedly entered the mainstream culture; the verb “to google” was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Sergey Mikhailovich Brin was born on August 21, 1973, in Moscow, Russia, to Jewish parents, Michael and Eugenia. When he was six years old, Brin emigrated to the U.S. with his parents and younger brother, Samuel, due to increasing anti-Semitism in the U.S.S.R. “I was worried that my children would face the same discrimination if we stayed there,” said his father. “Sometimes the love for one’s country is not mutual.” Michael Brin is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, while Brin’s mother, also a mathematician and civil engineer, works as a specialist at NASA.

When Brin was nine years old, his father gave him his first computer, a Commodore 64. From that point on, Brin’s interest in mathematics and computers only grew. He attended Paint Branch Montessori School in Adelphi, Maryland, followed by Eleanor Roosevelt High School. In 1993, Brin graduated from the University of Maryland with an honours degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. He then received a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation, allowing him to pursue his Master’s degree in Computer Science at Stanford University, which he received in 1995. Although he had intended to pursue a Ph.D., a side project with fellow Stanford student Larry Page would soon distract his attention.

Lawrence Edward Page was born on March 26, 1973 in Lansing, Michigan. His father, Carl, is a computer science professor at Michigan State University, where his mother, Gloria, also works as a computer-programming teacher. Page claims to have fallen in love with computers at the age of seven. “I was probably the first student at my elementary school to turn in a word-processed homework assignment,” he recalls. Page attended East Lansing High School before earning his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan. He then went on to earn his Master’s degree from Stanford University.

Page admits that the doctoral program was scary. “I kept complaining to my friends that I was going to get sent home on the bus,” he says. But, it was while Page was pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford that he met fellow student Brin. Although the two initially didn’t hit it off, they soon found a common interest in data-mining and retrieving relevant information from large data sets. Together, they wrote a paper entitled, “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” which has today become the tenth most accessed scholarly paper at Stanford.

Page and Brin began to think about the relationship between websites on the Internet, soon realizing that not all of them were created equal. They created a software system called “BackRub”, a search engine that checked backlinks to determine one site’s importance over another. Soon, the two had dropped out of university – although Brin is officially still on leave from Stanford – and began devoting themselves full-time to their thesis idea.

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