Together with Larry Page, Sergey Brin co-founded Google. Brin was the president of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., until stepping down from the role on December 3, 2019. He & Page are living large now but remain at Alphabet as co-founders, controlling shareholders, board members, & employees. As of April 2021, Brin is the 8th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of ̶$̶1̶0̶0̶.̶2̶ ̶b̶i̶l̶l̶i̶o̶n̶ 82.1 billion.
Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of six. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, following in his father's & grandfather's footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science. After graduation, he enrolled in Stanford University to acquire a PhD in computer science. There he met Page, with whom he built a web search engine. The program became popular at Stanford, & they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in Susan Wojcicki's garage in Menlo Park.
During an orientation for new students at Stanford, he met Larry Page. The two men seemed to disagree on most subjects, but after spending time together they "became intellectual soul-mates & close friends." Brin's focus was on developing data mining systems while Page's was in extending "the concept of inferring the importance of a research paper from its citations in other papers". Together, they authored a paper titled "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine".
To convert the backlink data gathered by BackRub's web crawler into a measure of importance for a given web page, Brin & Page developed the PageRank algorithm, & realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to those existing at the time. The new algorithm relied on a new kind of technology that analyzed the relevance of the backlinks that connected one Web page to another, & allowed the number of links & their rank, to determine the rank of the page.
Combining their ideas, they began utilizing Page's dormitory room as a machine laboratory, & extracted spare parts from inexpensive computers to create a device that they used to connect the nascent search engine with Stanford's broadband campus network.
After filling Page's room with equipment, they then converted Brin's dorm room into an office & programming center, where they tested their new search engine designs on the web. The rapid growth of their project caused Stanford's computing infrastructure to experience problems.
Page & Brin used the former's basic HTML programming skills to set up a simple search page for users, as they did not have a web page developer to create anything visually elaborate. They also began using any computer part they could find to assemble the necessary computing power to handle searches by multiple users. As their search engine grew in popularity among Stanford users, it required additional servers to process the queries. In August 1996, the initial version of Google was made available on the Stanford Web site.
By early 1997 the BackRub page described the state as follows:
Some Rough Statistics (from August 29, 1996)
Total indexable HTML urls: 75.2306 Million
Total content downloaded: 207.022 gigabytes (now there is google amount of gigs downloaded)
BackRub is written in Java & Python & runs on several Sun Ultras & Intel Pentiums running Linux. The primary database is kept on a Sun Ultra series II with 28GB of disk. Scott Hassan & Alan Steremberg have provided a great deal of very talented implementation help. Sergey Brin has also been very involved & deserves many thanks.
— Larry Page
BackRub already exhibited the rudimentary functions & characteristics of a search engine: a query input was entered & it provided a list of backlinks ranked by importance. Page recalled: "We realized that we had a querying tool. It gave you a good overall ranking of pages & ordering of follow-up pages." Page said that in mid-1998 they finally realized the further potential of their project: "Pretty soon, we had 10,000 searches a day, & we figured, maybe this is really real."
Some compared Page & Brin's vision to the impact of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of modern printing:
In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg introduced Europe to the mechanical printing press, printing Bibles for mass consumption. The technology allowed for books & manuscripts—originally replicated by hand—to be printed at a much faster rate, thus spreading knowledge & helping to usher in the European Renaissance ... Google has done a similar job.
The comparison was also noted by the authors of The Google Story: "Not since Gutenberg ... has any new invention empowered individuals, & transformed access to information, as profoundly as Google." Also, not long after the two "cooked up their new engine for web searches, they began thinking about information that was at the time beyond the web," such as digitizing books & expanding health information.
Brin is working on other, more personal projects that reach beyond Google. For example, he & Page are trying to help solve the world's energy & climate problems at Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org, which invests in the alternative energy industry to find wider sources of renewable energy. The company acknowledges that its founders want "to solve really big problems using technology".
In October 2010, for example, they invested in a major offshore wind power development to assist the East coast power grid, which will eventually become one of about a dozen offshore wind farms that are proposed for the region. A week earlier they introduced a car that, with "artificial intelligence", can drive itself using video cameras & radar sensors. In the future, drivers of cars with similar sensors would have fewer accidents. These safer vehicles could, therefore, be built lighter & require less fuel consumption. They are trying to get companies to create innovative solutions to increasing the world's energy supply. Brin was also an early investor in Tesla.
In 2004, he & Page were named "Persons of the Week" by ABC World News Tonight. In January 2005 he was nominated to be one of the World Economic Forum's "Young Global Leaders". In June 2008, Brin invested $4.5 million in Space Adventures, the Virginia-based space tourism company. His investment will serve as a deposit for a reservation on one of Space Adventures' proposed flights in 2011. Space Adventures, the only company that sends tourists to space, has sent five of them so far.
Brin & Page jointly own a customized Boeing 767-200 & a Dornier Alpha Jet, & pay $1.3 million a year to house them & two Gulfstream V jets owned by Google executives at Moffett Federal Airfield. The aircraft have had scientific equipment installed by NASA to allow experimental data to be collected in flight.
In 2012 Brin was involved with the Project Glass program & demoed eyeglass prototypes. Project Glass is a research & development program by Google to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD). The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands-free displaying of information currently available to most smartphone users, & allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands.
Brin was also involved in the Google driverless car project. In September 2017, at the signing of the California Driverless Vehicle Bill, Brin predicted that within five years, robotic cars will be available to the general public.
What does Sergey Brin do now?
Where is Sergey Brin today? According to Forbes, Brin is reportedly funding a high-tech airship project. While he is no longer president of Alphabet, he remains a controlling shareholder and board member. He has two children with his first wife & one child with Shanahan.
Brin is working closely with a group of researchers & has convened weekly discussions of new AI research with Google employees building Google's long-awaited AI model Gemini.