"Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems."
- Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin is referred as an "Enlightenment Man". He was one of the people that put a big bet on the early rise on the internet as he believes that "knowledge is always good, and certainly always better than ignorance".
Brin and his business partner Larry Page changed the way most people use the internet. The pair started the Google search engine while working on their Ph.D.s in Computer Science at the Stanford University, USA. They initially had no plans to start a business, but were simply doing research for their Ph.D..
Google quickly went from a research project of two Stanford students to being one of the most visited websites on the internet, and has become one of the most successful dot-com businesses in history.
Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (Russian: Сергей Михайлович Брин) was born on August 21st, 1973, in Moscow to Russian Jewish parents, Michael Brin and Eugenia Brin, both graduates of Moscow State University. His father is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, and his mother is a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
In 1979, Brin and his family felt compelled to emigrate to the United States. The Brin family lived in an apartment in central Moscow with Sergey's paternal grandmother. Sergey's mother was less willing to leave their home in Moscow, where they had spent their entire lives. For related reasons, his mother also had to leave her job. During this time his parents shared responsibility for looking after him and his father taught himself computer programming.
In May 1979, they were granted their official exit visas and were allowed to leave the country. His family emigrated to the United States to escape Jewish persecution.
Brin had an interest in computers from an early age, and he received his first computer, a Commodore 64, from his father for his 9th birthday. Brin attended grade school at Paint Branch Montessori School in Adelphi, Maryland, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science.
Brin also had further education at home from his father, and his family helped him retain his Russian-language skills. In September 1990, after having attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, Brin enrolled in the University of Maryland to study computer science and mathematics, where he received his Bachelor of Science in May 1993 with honors.
Brin began his graduate study in computer science at Stanford University on a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In 1993, he interned at Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica. He is on leave from his Ph.D. studies at Stanford.
The Birth of Google
Sergey Brin and Larry Page originally met in March 1995, during a spring orientation of new computer Ph.D. candidates. They became intellectual soul-mates and close friends after spending time together although they seemed to disagree on most subjects.
Page and Brin began to work on a project called "The Anatomy of a Large-scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine" or simply, The Anatomy of a Search Engine. Their challenge was to crawl the web efficiently and provide more relevant results than the search engines that were available at that time.
Combining their ideas, they fill their dormitory room with cheap computers and tested their new search engine designs on the web. Their project grew quickly enough to cause problems for Stanford's computing infrastructure. But they realized they had succeeded in creating a superior engine for searching the web and suspended their Ph.D. studies to work more on their system.
The dramatic growth of the web presented problems in crawling the web, keeping the crawled information up to date, storing the indices efficiently, and handling many queries quickly. To convert the backlink data gathered by web crawler into a measure of importance for a given web page, Brin and Page developed the PageRank algorithm, and realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to existing ones. It relied on a new kind of technology that analyzed the relevance of the backlinks that connected one web page to another.
As a research project at Stanford University, Brin and Page created a search engine that listed results according to the popularity of the pages, after concluding that the most popular result would often be the most useful. They called the search engine Google after the mathematical term "Googol," which is a 1 followed by 100 zeros, to reflect their mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the web.
Soon after they started the Google project and after trying to sell the idea failed, Brin and Page raised $1 million from family, friends and other investors, the pair launched the company in 1998. Google has since become the world's most popular search engine, receiving more than 200 million queries each day.
The search engine became profitable in the year 2000 with the introduction of unobtrusive text advertisements placed along side search results. The company grew so quickly and gained so many employees’ a few office relocations were made due to lack of space, with Google Inc. finally settled in its current place at Mountain View, California. Over the next few years headed by Larry and Sergey Google made many innovations and added to its list of products and employee's.
Google held its initial public offering in August 2004, making Page and Brin billionaires. Since then, Google has grown from just another Silicon Valley startup into the world’s largest media corporation; in fact, based on its recent stock price of $513 per share, Google, which has made searching the internet easy.
Recognition and Awards
Google was praised by PC Magazine to be among the Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines (1998) and awarded Google the Technical Excellence Award, for Innovation in Web Application Development in 1999. In 2000, Google earned a Webby Award, a People's Voice Award for technical achievement, and in 2001, was awarded Outstanding Search Service, Best Image Search Engine, Best Design, Most Webmaster Friendly Search Engine, and Best Search Feature at the Search Engine Watch Awards.
In 2002, Brin, along with Larry Page Brin, was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100, as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35. In 2003, both Brin and Page received an honorary MBA from IE Business School "for embodying the entrepreneurial spirit and lending momentum to the creation of new businesses." In 2004, they received the Marconi Foundation Prize, the "Highest Award in Engineering," and were elected Fellows of the Marconi Foundation at Columbia University. "In announcing their selection, they are congratulated for their invention that has fundamentally changed the way information is retrieved today." And in the same year, they were named "Persons of the Week" by ABC World News Tonight.
Personal Life and Wealth
In May 2007, Sergey Brin married Anne Wojcicki in the Bahamas. The couple have 2 children. Wojcicki is a biotech analyst and a 1996 graduate of Yale University with a B.S. in biology.
As of 2012, with his $1 salary and owning a percentage of Google (Brin and Page owned a total of 16%), Brin's personal wealth is estimated to be $18.7 billion. And in March 2013, his net worth was $22.8 billion. In October 2014, he was worth $29.2 billion. And in June 2015, his net worth slightly decreased to $28.9 billion. On February 2016, after Alphabet first announced its profit, Brin was estimated by Forbes to worth $39.2 billion.
Despite Brin's success, he has kept his profile fairly unknown to the public. He is not known to live a lavish lifestyle, driving an inexpensive car and rented a two-bedroom flat. But eventually he got himself a 3500 square feet home in Greenwich Street, New York for $8.5 million.
He is also a keen gymnast taking trapeze lessons. He also likes yoga and meditation. Like many of the Google staff, he often rides around work on roller skates and plays roller hockey during breaks. Keeping ties with his cultural heritage, Brin often dines in San Francisco's many Russian restaurants.
As an tech enthusiast, both Brin and Page stated that they want "to solve really big problems using technology", and dedicated both themselves, and Google, to invest in cleaner alternative source of energies.
Brin that had invested $4.5 million in Space Adventures, jointly own a customized and NASA equipped Boeing 767-200 and a Dornier Alpha Jet with Page. They pay $1.3 million a year to house them with two Gulfstream V jets owned by Google executives at Moffett Federal Airfield.
Brin along with Page has also produced 2007 Hollywood film Broken Arrows.
In August 2013, Brin divorced his wife after the two lived separately following Brin's extramarital affair with Google Glass's marketing director Amanda Rosenberg. The divorce was finalized in 2015.
In 2018, Brin married Nicole Shanahan, a legal tech founder. Their daughter was born in 2018.
While Brin and Wojcicki are divorced, the two still jointly run The Brin Wojcicki Foundation, where they have donated money for charities.
In 2021, both Larry Page and Sergey Bring became centibillionaires, or individuals with wealth surpassing $100 billion.
Page's fortune rose by $21.2 billion in the year to April 2021, according to Bloomberg's calculations, while Brin's grew by $20.4 billion.
In 2022, Brin divorced Shanahan citing "irreconcilable differences" as the reason. After all, the two were already having marital problems because of the stress of COVID-19, and were also arguing over the care of their four-year-old daughter.
However, it happened following the accusation that Shanahan had an extramarital affair with billionaire Elon Musk.
Musk was allegedly said to have had a brief fling with Brin's lawyer wife at Art Basel, a multi-day art event in Miami, in December of 2021. Brin, who was the eighth richest man in the world, file for divorce in January 2022.
It is said that Shanahan is asking for $1 billion in their divorce, which is a fraction of Brin's $95 billion net worth.
According to Brin, that amount is allegedly more what Shanahan is entitled to under the conditions of their prenup.