Who Actually Invented Google and When? The Full History Behind the Search Engine Giant

Google, the ubiquitous search engine used by billions across the globe each day, has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. With just a few keystrokes, it delivers all the world‘s information to our fingertips.

But how did Google get its start? Who were the visionaries behind what would grow into the world‘s fourth most valuable publicly traded company? And when was this history made?

The Google origin story has its roots in the renowned computer science program at Stanford University, where co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin first crossed paths in 1995.

Before Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin Meet at Stanford

Larry Page grew up in Michigan, where he built an "inkjet printer in our garage" and "grew up around computers," as his brother Carl Page told Wired. Page headed west to study at Stanford, earning a bachelor‘s in computer engineering and pursuing a master‘s in computer science.

Sergey Brin‘s path to Silicon Valley had greater twists and turns. He was born in Russia in 1973, emigrating with his family to escape Jewish persecution when he was just 6 years old. They eventually settled in Maryland, where his father taught mathematics at the University of Maryland. His mother landed a research job at NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Brin followed in his parents‘ analytical, scientific footsteps, attending the University of Maryland‘s honors college as an undergraduate. He too made his way to Stanford for graduate studies in computer science.

At Stanford in 1995, Page and Brin crossed paths – but they did not instantly become partners. Initially rivals on an academic paper, their scrappiness led them to collaborate, and they published their first paper together in 1998.

Little did they know this marked the beginnings of Google‘s founding story.

From BackRub to Google: The Origin of the Iconic Tech Company Name

Page and Brin toyed with ideas for utilizing the growing web and internet connectivity for search. Their breakthrough concept? Math citations and backlinks – rather than human-curated relevancy ratings – could allow a search engine to automagically surface the most authoritative pages for keyword queries.

This became the foundation of PageRank, the backbone of Google‘s flagship search engine.

The name "Google" itself has mathematical origins fitting for Page and Brin‘s geeky sensibilities. It is a play on the word "googol," referring to the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The name refers to the vast amount of data (read: googols of web pages) that an effective search engine must crawl, index, and make searchable.

Initially, Page and Brin named their research project BackRub, referring to its analysis of inbound links or backlinks. Fellow Stanford PhD student Sean Anderson came up with the revised name Googolplex; fellow Stanford alum Sean Parker (later of Napster fame) shortened it to Google.

Developing the Initial Google Search Engine

After clashing with Stanford administrators over providing access to Page and Brin‘s database search technology across the university‘s website pages, the pair struck out on their own.

Scott Hassan, one of Brin‘s office mates, left school to become the lead programmer writing code for Google Search. Many consider Hassan Google‘s "third founder" during its incorporation phase – though he departed before Google‘s official company founding date. He remained a shareholder, with his original $800 stake valued at a cool $13 billion as of 2021. Not bad for playing a key role in early search engine development!

Hassan programmed the initial system architecture allowing Google‘s crawlers to scale across Stanford‘s websites – infrastructure equally primed for expansion to the open internet.

By late 1998, Page and Brin were crawling and indexing millions of web pages for Google Search. After maxing out Stanford‘s bandwidth, they relocated to a friend‘s Menlo Park garage to continue iterating. Their modest beginnings paralleled legends like HP‘s origins in a garage decades earlier.

Funding, Incorporation and Growth of the Early Startup

Bolstered by positive feedback and usage from within Stanford‘s halls, Brin and Page secured funding from successful Sun Microsystems founder Andy Bechtolsheim with little more than a demo.

One of Google‘s ten founding principles outlined in its 2004 IPO letter was "great just isn‘t good enough." But showing a working search engine led to Google‘s first $100,000 in angel investment from Bechtolsheim in 1998, allowing them to formally incorporate Google, Inc.

Early Google adviser David Cheriton and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos soon followed Bechtolsheim‘s lead with investments totaling $1 million.

Onsite above a bike shop and later expanding to a suburban office park, Google‘s rise had begun. By 2000, Google received search queries for 70 million pages and delivered 350 million search results daily.

To keep infrastructure growing, Page and Brin convinced esteemed Stanford professor and future Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to join Google‘s board of directors in 2000.

Leadership Expansions Position Google for Prime Time

Google co-founders knew they needed an experienced corporate leader to manage expansive operations while they guided technological vision. In March 2001, Page and Brin recruited seasoned tech exec Eric Schmidt from Novell to become Google‘s Chairman and CEO. This marked a pivotal move establishing more mature management.

With Schmidt at the helm, Google launched its seminal, text-based AdWords advertising system in 2001 and achieved profitability by 2002. AdWords enabled advertisers to launch targeted text ads alongside users‘ search results based on keyword searches – a predecessor to today‘s highly optimized paid search model funding Google‘s empire.

Record-Breaking IPO Welcomes Google to Public Markets

After reaching 150 million searches daily on a private backbone, Google debuted on public markets with one of the most anticipated IPOs ever in 2004. Page and Brin set an unconventionally high share price at $85, aiming beyond Wall Street‘s initial $108 target. Their confidence paid off, with first-day trading opening well above plan at $100 per share and closing above the doubling mark at $204.

Reaching a staggering $27 billion market cap after day 1, Google holds records for the highest value IPO ever achieved as a tech company. Thousands of Google employees benefitted, with around 1,000 becoming millionaires virtually overnight.

Google also set the tone for upending traditions around initial offerings. Rather than celebrating with champagne, Page and Brin played volleyball at the company digs. And guests received gifts of llama toys with Google URLs referencing the company‘s quirky corporate culture.

While they started Google just shy of their mid-20s, in 6 short years Page and Brin had led it to new heights with a multi-billion dollar public listing.

Extending Beyond Search into Surging Ad Revenues

Google evolved its advertising systems dramatically across the 2000s, developing contextual and local ads with greater targeting and metrics for advertisers. This unlocked booming business and revenue.

The company trademarked "Don‘t Be Evil" as an informal corporate mantra to guide decisions upon reaching scale. Public goodwill and trust remained integral to enable growth.

By 2007, Google rolled out its own web browser Chrome to offer speed, scale, and data advantages vis-a-vis competition from Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Revenue soared from $3.2 billion to $21.8 billion from 2006 to 2010. Much of this came through emerging markets including Brazil, India and South Korea. Known today simply as "Google" with no corporate parent reference, the company‘s tentacles were spreading simply by increasing search dominance.

From Moonshots to Alphabet: Expanding Google‘s Profile This Decade

Fast forward to 2013 when Google made headlines as parent company Alphabet before Alphabet was formally incorporated. In what became characteristic "moonshot" ambition, Google invested in secretive engineering lab GoogleX to develop self-driving cars.

Seeking to house more parallel "Other Bets" endeavors separately from Google‘s search/advertising profit-engine, Page and Brin announced a major restructuring. They incorporated Google (alongside YouTube, Android, Chrome etc) under a new holding company named Alphabet in 2015. Alphabet emerged as a $500 billion public behemoth housing over 10 companies.

Page shifted from Google CEO to lead Alphabet, aiming to "make big strides on some of the biggest problems in the world" per Alphabet‘s mission statement. Shepherding Google‘s continued rise alongside Moonshots became a sizeable dual mandate as Page aimed to change the world with technology.

As Alphabet with Google as its crown jewel, the parent company closed 2018 crossing $1 trillion in public market valuation. Dominance took new forms with expanded offerings in Google Cloud for enterprise services, YouTube premium streaming, the Android mobile ecosystem, and hardware like Pixel phones and Nest devices.

When Page and Brin Stepped Back to Focus on What‘s Next

In December 2019, Page and Brin announced separate resignations from parent company Alphabet – Page from CEO, Brin from President. The move formally passed Alphabet‘s reins including Google to Sundar Pichai. An insider with 15 years at Google, Pichai proved himself helming Chrome and Android before taking the Google CEO title in 2015.

Page remains a controlling shareholder and board member but shifted focus to funding sustainability startups advancing human progress apart from daily Google involvement. Brin also resigned from day-to-day oversight while funding passion projects like airships via personal venture firm Bayshore Global Management.

The surprise move marked a key changing of the guard two decades after Page and Brin began building Google – and the next era for Alphabet and Google under Pichai‘s leadership.

By The Numbers: Quantifying Today‘s Google Behemoth

Let‘s quantify stats illuminating Google‘s current standing as a ubiquitous tech titan:

  • With a market cap of $1.2 trillion, Alphabet (Google‘s parent) ranks among the world‘s most valuable companies, consistently in the top 5 alongside Apple and Microsoft

  • Google Search retains over 90% global market share of search, dwarfing competitors

  • Google handles over 40,000 search queries each second, totaling over 3.5 billion searches daily and 1.2 trillion annually

  • Statista pegs Alphabet‘s Google as the world‘s 3rd most valuable brand at $263 billion behind Apple and Amazon

  • Google.com is the most visited website globally with 92 billion visits monthly per SEMrush data

  • Google rakes in $54.5 billion in annual advertising revenue as of its Q3 2022 earnings report

  • Google and YouTube are routinely the world‘s most searched keywords highlighting immense scale and reach

Far more than Stanford students noodling on search algorithms, Page and Brin unleashed profound global impact that billions interact with daily through Google.

And with Pichai as CEO steering today‘s ship, who knows what else lies in store on the horizon.

Conclusion: From Garage Brainstorm to Global Tech Showpiece

Google‘s invention story showcases accustomed elements of Silicon Valley legend: Two enterprising Stanford students noodling with algorithms; scribbling search code in a cramped garage; exploding into a global tech powerhouse rivaling Microsoft or Apple.

But Page and Brin authored this legend from the ground up with ingenuity. Turning search dominance into a high-scale advertising empire generated unprecedented profit engines. Rare are companies crowned with over 90% market share allowing funding of big bets like self-driving cars.

Google shaped the fabric of the internet as we know it. With roots in mathematical insights and computational horsepower, it will continue advancing these fields to power humanity‘s progress for decades to come.

And that is the tangible legacy of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford grads aiming to catalog all the data worth indexing to better spread knowledge. What started as a quest to organize web pages evolved into an icon making the world‘s information accessible to all. It‘s an origin story unlikely to be duplicated anytime soon.

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