Larry Page, the co-founder of search giant Google and former CEO of the brand’s parent company Alphabet, says he never set out to develop a search engine.
But the business has been good for the American entrepreneur, giving him a $117.6 billion (£89.78 billion) fortune and making him the sixth wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes.
Page grew up in a family of computing professionals, so it’s not surprising he ended up as a technological wizard – but few could have predicted his endeavour with fellow uni friend Sergey Brin would have grown so exponentially.
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Who Is Larry Page?
Lawrence ‘Larry’ Page was born in 1973 in Michigan.
His father was a computer science professor, and his mother was a software coding lecturer at Michigan State University.
A home full of first-gen PCs and computing talk rubbed off – Page’s brother, Carl, also became a successful internet entrepreneur.
Page co-founded Google Inc., the mega search engine used the world over with alumni Sergey Brin, born of a lifelong fascination and a keen instinct for innovation and business.
Following various restructures, Page stepped down as Alphabet CEO in 2019 but is still a controlling shareholder and has a seat on the board.
Now, Page is involved in several projects, including being a founding investor in Planetary Resources, a space exploration firm, and Kitty Hawk and Opener, both startups developing flying cars.
Nothing is beyond the realms of possibility when Page is involved – in January 2022, his Wisk Aero company announced that it had secured $450 million in funding from plane makers Boeing to develop an autonomous air taxi called Cora.
Education And Career
Page went to Montessori School and then East Lansing High School before attending the University of Michigan.
As an honours student, Page had a long list of extracurricular activities, participating in a solar car team and finding an interest in sustainable transportation.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and moved on to Stanford, studying computer science. Here, Page met Sergey Brin, and the friends undertook a research project trying to unpick linking patterns between internet sites.
That friendship would shape their futures and bring us technology that’s today as embedded in modern culture as any other.
Then, the internet was still a relatively new concept. Page was intrigued with finding out how the pages were linked. The available tools could only show rankings based on individual words and were useless for page analysis.
With skills in data mining, Brin teamed up with Page to see if they could make an idea, called PageRank, something tangible.
They published two papers together:
- Dynamic Data Mining – A New Architecture for Data With High Dimensionality
- The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.
The first incarnation of Google, written as a prototype in a friend’s dorm room, was called BackRub.
In 1997, Page and Brin registered a domain called Google.com – they picked the word from the term googol, which means a massive number with a one followed by 100 zeros.
A year later, they incorporated Google as a PLC and moved the servers to a friend’s garage, taking a leave of absence from the Stanford PhD programme to work on their business idea.
Page started as CEO and Brin as President, and as their concept took shape, they could afford to rent a complex in Mountain View, relocating from the garage to a rental office in 1999.
Now, the company owns the entire property, called the GooglePlex, a notoriously wacky and unusual workplace.
The fun started in 2000 when Google began selling ads linked with search keywords, and Page and Brin were still Stanford PhD candidates.
Within a year, Google was growing rapidly and, at last, making a profit, so the friends recruited Eric Schmidt from Novell to take on the CEO role. Page became President for Products and Brin President for Technology.
The Growth of Google
The next few years passed in a blaze of extraordinary achievements:
- In 2004 the first Google IPO raised $1.67 billion, allocating a $24 billion market cap.
- Employees owning shares became overnight millionaires, and Page and Brin became multi-billionaires at just 27.
- Each of the three executives reduced their wages to $1 a year and refused to take any bonuses, instead linking their returns to the company’s stock market performance.
By 2006, Google had 10,000 employees, revenues over $10 billion a year, and decided to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion – at the time, an unprofitable video site.
A year later, the acquisition of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion allowed Google to revolutionise internet ads with AdWords, Google Analytics and AdSense – now the profit centre for 99 per cent of Google revenue.
Schmidt stood down as CEO in 2011 but stayed on as executive chairman, and Page took his place, buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. From there came the Android operating system.
Google underwent a reorganisation in 2015, creating Alphabet Inc. as the holding company. Page and Schmidt kept the same roles within Alphabet; they recruited Sundar Pichai to head up Google, and Brin was the Alphabet President.
The founders, Page and Brin, stood down at the end of 2019, inviting Pichai to take over as CEO of both Google and Alphabet.
They remain the two controlling stockholders of Alphabet and all the subsidiary companies and retain seats on the Alphabet board.
Larry Page’s Philanthropy
Google.org has a philanthropic arm – along with providing free broadband for all homes in the local area near the GooglePlex, the charitable branch donates vast amounts, asking users to select non-profit initiatives to support with contributions of $10 million.
Larry Page also set up a foundation in memory of his late father, called the Carl Victor Page Memorial Foundation.
His foundation has donated $15 million to West African healthcare to combat the Ebola epidemic, among many other initiatives.
Page has struggled with speaking difficulties since 1999, and both of his vocal cords were paralysed in 2013 due to an expected autoimmune condition.
Although he can speak with difficulties, he donated $20 million to Massachusetts General Hospital to help finance a research programme looking into vocal cord nerve functions.
Larry Page: Searching For The Man Behind Google
How did Larry Page make his billions?
Larry Page is one of the ten richest men in the world – he co-founded Google with friend Sergey Brin while studying at Stanford.
They stored the original servers for the first version of Google in Page’s dorm room. They later moved to a friend’s garage before having enough money to rent a space at a complex – which they now own.
Page is now worth $117.6 billion.
Are Sergey Brin and Larry Page still friends?
Although classed as friends, Page and Brin have always clashed slightly – but they remain on good terms decades later.
Both co-founders have stepped back from active positions at Google and the parent company Alphabet. However, they are still board members and control around 51 per cent of a specific asset class in Alphabet voting rights.
How much of Google does Larry Page own?
Google has a dual stock structure, so Page and Brin jointly own only around 11.9 per cent of Google stocks, which comprises about 80 million shares across all the share classes.
However, their voting rights are over 50 per cent of the business. While they aren’t full-time Google employees, they have a big say in how the company is run.
Before stepping back from day to day management, Page and Brin decided to reduce their salaries to $1 a year, effectively working for free.
As owners and shareholders, they had just become multi-billionaires, so they chose not to take any additional money from the company – primarily because they didn’t need it and wanted to demonstrate confidence in the future valuation of their shareholdings.
What does Larry Page do now he’s left Google?
Page is still busy, investing in a huge range of businesses and innovation concepts – including personal electric air taxes, flying cars and space exploration.
He continues to maintain a seat on the Alphabet board of directors.
Is Larry Page married?
Yes, Page is married to Lucinda Southworth – the couple married in 2007 on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s Caribbean hideaway.
Southworth has a doctorate from Stanford in biomedical information, a degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in science obtained at Oxford University.
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