Sergey Brin and Larry Page are the two young, brilliant mathematicians-cum-entrepreneurs who co-founded Google.
Take a peek into their public and private lives with these surprising facts and interesting bits of trivia.
1Page fell in love with computers age 6
Larry Page grew up in Michigan. His dad was a pioneering computer science professor at Michigan State University, and his mom taught computer programming. Larry claims he became enamored with computers when he was only six years old, which, for some reason, we don’t find surprising.
2He once built a printer out of Lego
Page earned his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, just like his father. While there, Page built an inkjet printer entirely out of Lego.
3He’s always been pretty confident
Page once told his teachers at Stanford that he was going to download the whole internet on to his computer. Of course, his professors thought he was crazy, but a little company called Google might have changed their minds since.
4Brin’s family emigrated to flee persecution
Sergey Brin, whose father was a Soviet mathematician economist, was born to a Jewish family in Moscow. In 1979, he and his family fled persecution and emigrated to America. Brin earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science at the University of Maryland, and enrolled at Stanford to achieve his graduate degree.
5Brin loves lock-picking…and trapeze
While a student at Stanford, Brin experimented with different lock-picking techniques. Lock-picking is a popular hobby for computer hackers, but Brin’s other love, performing as a trapeze artist, has got to be far less common.
6Israel made an impression on Brin
Brin was bored in Hebrew School as a child, but when he traveled to Israel with his family at age 11, the experience stuck with him. As a result, Google now has annual Passover seders for Jewish employees.
7They took a while to become friends
The pair met in the middle of the 1990s while both earning their doctorate degree in computer sciences at Stanford University. Brin and Page didn’t become fast friends on the spot, but later, when working on a dorm project, they became close companions.
8Google was first titled BackRub
Google was first tentatively titled BackRub. Working together from their school dorm, Brin and Page created the early version of Google as a search engine that would list results by page popularity, since the pair figured (and rightly so!) that this would be the most useful way to sort through results.
9Google is a misspelling of ‘googol’
The guys came up with the name “Google” as a joke misspelling of the term “googol,” which means a huge number. The general public may not know what it means, but it makes a bit more sense than BackRub.
10Brin is still a Stanford ‘student’
Brin is still officially on leave from Stanford, even though both he and Page dropped out of college after inventing BackRub and changing its name to Google. Maybe he’ll go back for a degree in business.
11Friends and family helped pay for Google
Google was officially launched on September 7, 1998, from a site (no pun intended) to be immemorial for centuries to come: a friend’s garage. In order to finance the project, Brin and Page collected $1million from very generous family, friends, and investors.
12They don’t accept adverts for guns
The duo would like to be known for their mantra, which is “Don’t be evil”. Page clarified that this means he and Brin want to provide only the best service for their users and customers, and includes not accepting advertisements for guns or hard liquor. However, beer, wine, and pornography ads are allowed.
13Their baby was an instant hit
Google was immediately extremely popular, garnering 10,000 hits per day – no small feat. Today, Google gets over 200 million queries a day. Talk about growth!
14They love to keep employees happy
Google’s Californian headquarters are based in Mountain View in Silicon Valley. True to their character, Brin and Page make sure to include a few quirks to keep themselves and their staff cheerful: there is a masseuse present at all times, a piano, and weekly roller-hockey games in the company’s car park. Every employee gets one day per week to work on whatever individual projects they’d like.
15You can bring your dog to work at Google
Brin and Page make the Google work environment a fun and collegiate-like place to be employed. Google allows dogs to roam freely around its headquarters, and Google’s head chef, Charlie Ayers, used to cook for The Grateful Dead.
16They have REAL first world problems
Brin and Page have been overheard arguing about what kind of beds to put in their Boeing 767 wide-body corporate jet. Court documents unearthed during a battle between a fired designer contracted to work on the plane and Google’s holding company for the aircraft state that Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was present at the time of the argument and stopped it, called the jet a “party plane”. Apparently, Brin and Page wanted a cocktail lounge and hammocks suspended from the ceiling in their jet.
17Brin and Page live modestly
Despite being billionaires, Brin and Page both live relatively modestly (disregarding the airplane incident, that is). They have reportedly both driven the environmentally friendly Toyota Prius, a partly electric-powered car that many Mother Earth-oriented Americans use. They tend to dress in t-shirts and jeans – typical boys-next-door.
18China’s been interesting for them
When Google launched in China in 2005, Brin and Page censored its search engine. Controversial subjects like the Falun Gong movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre were blocked. After severe Western protests, Brin and Page both admitted that this was a bad move both morally and for business. No kidding.
19Brin earned $4billion at age 31
Brin was the youngest member of the Forbes 400 richest people in the world in 2004, at age 31. He and Page both reaped $4billion each that year, tying for the No. 43 spot.
20They are worth A LOT
Brin and Page are currently worth more than $35billion each. Page is thought to edge Brin out by a narrow margin – he is worth $.7billion more.
21Brin’s ex-wife was also an entrepreneur
Brin’s ex-wife, popular biotech analyst Anne Wojcicki, left her job to found a genetic startup company called 23 and Me. Wojcicki says she wants to help unravel important DNA mysteries and help the world understand DNA. The pair divorced in June 2015.
22They’re always looking to the future
Page and Brin keep a private list of employee ideas called the “Google Top 100”, comprised of the Google team’s own pet ideas and projects. So far, Google News and the social networking site Orkut have been the top fully realized products from the list.
23The pair are passionate about the environment
Brin and Page have been investing in Nanosolar, a company that produces thin-film solar cells, for years. While less efficient than traditional crystalline cells, thin-film cells can be printed on plastic sheets that can cover more area on surfaces like roofs and walls. Brin and Page are known for their passionate interest in the environment.
24They respect the past
Page and Brin have spoken out in defense of print newspapers in the past, saying that they still believed in the medium’s future. However, both admitted to getting most of their news online — not a good sign for the newspaper industry.
25In 2005 they were paid $1 a year
Both men followed in the footsteps of other frugal entrepreneurs when they asked to be paid $1 per year in both 2005 and 2006. While some may see this as a risky move, the pair planned to rely on stock options and grants of company stock for their daily living expenses.
Whatever the outcome of the the duo’s newest risk-taking venture, one thing is for sure: Google will continue to change the face of internet search as we know it for years to come.
The pictures in this article are courtesy of Steve Jurvetson under CC BY-SA licence (for the pic of Sergey Brin) and Stansfield PL under CC BY 2.0 licence (for the pic of Larry Page).