Sergey Brin

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Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin born August 21, 1973 is a Russian-American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur. Together with Larry Page, he co-founded Google. Brin is the President of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. As of June 2019, Brin was the 13th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$49.2 billion.

Brin was born in Moscow in the Soviet Union, to Russian Jewish parents, Yevgenia and Mikhail Brin, both graduates of Moscow State University (MSU).  His father is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, and his mother a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The Brin family lived in a three-room apartment in central Moscow, which they also shared with Sergey’s paternal grandmother.  In “The Story of Sergey Brin”, Brin told Mark Malseed of Moment magazine, “I’ve known for a long time that my father wasn’t able to pursue the career he wanted”, but Brin only picked up the details years later after they had settled in the United States.

They formally applied for their exit visa in September 1978, and as a result his father was “promptly fired”. For related reasons, his mother had to leave her job. For the next eight months, without any steady income, they were forced to take on temporary jobs as they waited, afraid their request would be denied as it was for many refuseniks. 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. Sergey Brin was only 6 years old.

In the summer of 1990, a few weeks before his 17th birthday, his father led a group of high school math students, including Sergey, on a two-week exchange program to the Soviet Union. His roommate on the trip was future Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor John Stamper. As Brin recalls, the trip awakened his childhood fear of authority and he remembered that “his first impulse on confronting Soviet oppression had been to throw pebbles at a police car”. Malseed adds, “On the second day of the trip, while the group toured a sanatorium in the countryside near Moscow, Brin took his father aside, looked him in the eye and said, ‘Thank you for taking us all out of Russia.'”


Brin attended elementary school at Paint Branch Montessori School in Adelphi, Maryland, but he received further education at home; his father, a professor in the department of mathematics at the University of Maryland, encouraged him to learn mathematics and his family helped him retain his Russian-language skills. He attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Greenbelt, Maryland. In September 1990, Brin enrolled in the University of Maryland, where he received his Bachelor of Science from the Department of Computer Science in 1993 with honors in computer science and mathematics at the age of 19, which is part of the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.In 1993, he interned at Wolfram Research, the developers of Mathematica.  As of 2008 he was on leave from his PhD studies at Stanford.

During his first year at Stanford University, Sergey Brin met Larry Page, a student that he described as’equally as obnoxious as himself.’ The two clashed constantly on ideas and theories, each taking a different side in debates.

They were intellectual rivals yet close friends, and their different theories on information soon took ahold of them and resulted in one of the world’s most productive projects.  While it was never originally called Google, Brin and Page started work on what would become one of the world’s most popular websites in their dorm room.

They created a smaller search network that spanned Stanford’s computer system, eventually crashing the college network due to heavy volumes of searches. The project was a success, at least in its early non-commercial goals.  It’s amazing to think that one of the world’s most profitable online companies was started without any plan of making money. Like Facebook and other successful businesses, Google was never just about income. In its early stages, as Brin had intended it to be, it was a way for students studying at Stanford to easily access information. They made a search engine that gave out a list of results according to the popularity of the web pages. They derived the name ‘Google’ from a mathematical term ‘Googol’ which means a 1 followed by hundred zeroes. This name also reflected their goal to organize the vast amount of information under a single platform. They collected funds and investments from family and friends and on gaining a million dollars launched their company in 1998 though it failed to make any money for its first few years.

In fact, it burned through most of its investment capital very quickly, failing to make a single cent until the early 21st century.Since that time Google has been the number one search engine. It is the most popular and most used search engine and over 200 million searches are conducted on it every day. Its headquarters are in the Silicon Valley where Brin and his partner Page continue to work on their brainchild in order to make it better and more advanced. Both colleagues share the responsibilities of the work as the director of Special Projects.

The Economist referred to Brin as an “Enlightenment Man”, and as someone who believes that “knowledge is always good, and certainly always better than ignorance”, a philosophy that is summed up by Google’s mission statement, “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and its unofficial yet sometimes controversial motto, “Don’t be evil”. Brin has been honored with many awards for his immense contribution to the world for it is due to his efforts (along with Larry Page) that have literally changed the way the world works. In 2002, Brin, along with Larry Page, was named 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 2003, Brin and Page were both Award Recipients and National Finalists for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

In 2004, Brin received the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award with Larry Page at a ceremony in Chicago, Illinois. In November 2009, Forbes decided Brin and Page were the fifth most powerful people in the world.  Earlier that same year, in February, Brin was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, which is “among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer … [and] honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice…”. He was selected specifically, “for leadership in development of rapid indexing and retrieval of relevant information from the World Wide Web”.