Who is Larry Page? All there is to know about the founder of Google
Not many people can claim to have changed the world in their 20s, but Larry Page certainly can. The co-founder of Google and CEO of Alphabet, Page completely changed the way we use the internet, connecting us to information in a way that had never been seen before
Born in East Lansing, Michigan on 26 March, 1973 and obsessed with computers since his childhood, Page often brags about being the first kid in his school to complete an assignment on a word processor. He also comes from a musical background, something he (inexplicably) credits to his interest in high-speed computing.
His parents both had roots in computing. His father was a computer science professor at Michigan State University, and his mother taught programming at Lyman Briggs College. His childhood home was apparently filled with computer parts and technology magazines, and it was this environment that fostered Larry Page’s interest in technology.
He attended the Okemos Montessori School for four years, and then East Lansing High School, where he graduated in 1991. After that, Page went on to get his Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from the University of Michigan, then his masters from Stanford.
Like so many tech entrepreneurs before him, Page got his million-dollar idea (or in this case, his 48.5 billion dollar idea) while in school, studying for his PhD at Stanford. What we now know as Google started as a dissertation topic, one that he was urged to pursue by his supervisors.
Larry Page: Google
Google started out as a research project by Page and his close friend Sergey Brin. Originally called “BackRub,” their early search engine already proved superior to existing ones, due mostly to their PageRank algorithm. BackRub analyzed how web pages connected to one another through backlinks, while existing search engines had a much less in-depth approach.
After realizing their potential success, Page and Brin started reworking BackRub into a more sophisticated search engine, converting Page’s dorm into a lab and cobbling together a computer out of spare parts and Lego bricks.
The first version of Google, which got its name from a misspelling of the large number googol, went live on August 1996. Originally hosted on Stanford’s website, google.stanford.edu took up half of the university’s network bandwidth. In September of ‘97, Page and Brin moved Google to its own domain and, one year later, incorporated their new company from their “office” in their friend’s garage in Menlo Park.
Much of what set Google apart from its competitors came from Page and Brin’s limited resources. The visually simple and user-friendly homepage was created with Page’s basic HTML knowledge, since the pair initially didn’t have a webpage developer. And because they were working with a limited amount of physical space, Page was constantly working to keep the servers efficient so they could fit more onto the computers in their warehouses. This made Google fast. Very fast. It wasn’t just the fastest search engine, however. With over 1 billion URLs indexed by 2000, it was also the most comprehensive search engine for the time.
After a receiving a significant amount of money from angel investors their first few years, the company moved into a complex in Mountain View, which would come to be known as the Googleplex, another misspelling of another very large number. By this point, Larry Page had declared himself Google’s CEO, with co-founder Sergey Brin acting as president. The company grew quickly, securing their search engine’s place in the internet zeitgeist even before Google’s IPO in 2004. Upon going public, Page, Brin, and executive chairman Eric Schmidt agreed to work together at Google for another 20 years. Whether they plan on all simultaneously throwing in the towel and retiring to private islands at 09:30 on 19 August, 2024 hasn’t been stated publicly yet, but I think we can all agree that it would be the biggest power move in the company’s history.
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Larry Page: Alphabet Inc
So far, the actual biggest power move in the company’s history happened on 10 August, 2015, when Page announced on Google’s blog that the company was being restructured under a new parent company: Alphabet Inc. Created to slim Google down and make the company more accountable, Alphabet also holds all of Google’s subsidiaries, including Waymo, Verily, Sidewalk Labs, and Google Fiber. Right now, Alphabet Inc is one of the world’s most valuable companies.
Alphabet’s creation caused a change in the managerial structure. Page moved up the ladder from Google and became the CEO of Alphabet, while Brin became Alphabet’s president. In their place, the former product chief Sundar Pichai became Google’s CEO.
Larry Page: Management
Page is known for his distinct and often aggravating approach to leadership. Though his managerial style and argumentativeness often led to disagreements amongst his employees, Page did introduce a new standard to Silicon Valley. He strongly disliked having engineering teams managed by non-engineers, which was common practice at the time, and started instating managers with engineering experience.
Page has an infamous way of communicating with his staff. A lover of debate, the Google CEO had seen his friendship with Sergey Brin grow despite heated arguments and a bit of name-calling, and reportedly interacts with his employees in the same blunt manner. He calls ideas stupid if he doesn’t like them. He counts seconds out loud during slow-moving presentations. But this unorthodox method has been considered more “tough love” than tyrannical.
He values those with ambition and creativity. In his eyes, a person’s role in the company is secondary to how well they do their job. A former HR employee recounted the time Larry Page stayed after work to chat with a janitor, expressing approval in his efficient method of replacing the office’s trash bags.
Larry Page: Personal Life
In 2007, Larry Page married research scientist Lucinda Southworth on a private Caribbean island owned by Sir Richard Branson. The couple have two children, born in 2009 and 2011, who they remain (rightfully) very private about. Currently, they live in 560 square metre ecohouse in Palo Alto, which was built in 2009 with its environmental impact in mind.
While usually very private, Page is fairly open about his health, specifically his Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that has caused repeated issues with his vocal cords and ability to speak. He has donated a significant amount of money to vocal cord research organizations, and also provided financial support to the effort against the Ebola outbreak in 2014.