The Rise and Fall of Google’s Founders: A Story of Innovation and Controversy
Google is one of the most influential and powerful companies in the world, shaping the way we access and use information on the internet. But behind the scenes, there is a fascinating story of how Google came to be, and how its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, rose to fame and fortune, and then gradually disappeared from the public eye.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin: Founders of Google
Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University in 1995, as both were in the school’s computer science graduate program. They had different personalities and interests, but they shared a passion for solving hard problems with technology. They decided to work together on a project that would revolutionize web search, using a novel algorithm that ranked web pages based on how many other pages linked to them. They called this algorithm PageRank, and their search engine Backrub.
Soon, Backrub became Google (a play on the word googol, the mathematical term for 1 followed by 100 zeros), and attracted the attention of investors and users alike. In 1998, they incorporated Google Inc. and moved out of their dorm rooms to a garage in Menlo Park, California. They hired their first employees, including a dog named Yoshka, and started to expand their services beyond web search, such as email, maps, news, and advertising.
Google’s motto was “Don’t be evil”, reflecting their unconventional and idealistic approach to business and technology. They also fostered a culture of innovation and creativity, allowing their engineers to spend 20% of their time on personal projects that could benefit the company. Some of these projects became successful products, such as Gmail, Google News, and Google Maps.
Page and Brin became celebrities in the tech world, admired for their vision and leadership. They also became billionaires, as Google went public in 2004 and its stock price soared. They were involved in various philanthropic and social causes, such as renewable energy, education, health, and space exploration .
However, not everything was smooth sailing for Google and its founders. As the company grew larger and more dominant, it also faced increasing challenges and controversies. Some of these included:
– Antitrust investigations and lawsuits from regulators and competitors around the world, accusing Google of abusing its market power and harming consumers and rivals.
– Privacy scandals and criticisms from users and activists, accusing Google of collecting and using personal data without consent or transparency.
– Ethical dilemmas and protests from employees and researchers, accusing Google of censoring content, collaborating with oppressive regimes, developing military technology, firing whistleblowers, and creating biased or harmful artificial intelligence.
– Internal conflicts and power struggles among executives and board members, leading to departures or demotions of key leaders.
In 2015, Page and Brin announced a major restructuring of Google, creating a new parent company called Alphabet that would oversee various subsidiaries, including Google. Page became the CEO of Alphabet, while Brin became the president. They appointed Sundar Pichai as the new CEO of Google.
This move was seen as a way for Page and Brin to distance themselves from the daily operations of Google and focus on their bigger ambitions and passions. However, it also meant that they became less visible and accountable to the public and their employees. They rarely appeared in public events or media interviews, and they stopped attending shareholder meetings or earnings calls. They also reduced their involvement in Alphabet’s subsidiaries, leaving most decisions to Pichai or other executives.
In 2019, Page and Brin announced another surprise: they were stepping down from their roles as CEO and president of Alphabet, effectively retiring from active management. They said they would remain as board members and controlling shareholders of Alphabet, but they would delegate all leadership responsibilities to Pichai.
They said they were proud of what they had achieved with Google and Alphabet, but they also acknowledged that it was time for a change. They said they believed that Pichai would lead the company with “humility” and “collaboration”, values that they had instilled since the beginning.
Page and Brin’s legacy is undeniable: they created one of the most successful companies in history, one that has changed the world in many ways. But their story is also complex: they faced many challenges and controversies along the way, some of which they handled well, others not so much. They inspired many people with their vision and innovation but also disappointed some with their decisions or actions.
As they fade away from the spotlight, we can only wonder what they will do next with their time, money, and influence. Will they pursue new ventures or causes? Will they reemerge in the future with new ideas or projects? Will they stay involved or informed about Google’s direction or issues? Or will they simply enjoy their retirement in peace?
Whatever they do next, we can be sure that Larry Page and Sergey Brin will always be remembered as the founders of Google: a story of innovation