Sergey Brin

Identification: Russian-born cofounder of Google

Born: August 21, 1973; Moscow, Soviet Union (now in Russia)

Significance: Brin teamed up with Stanford University classmate Larry Page to found the Internet company Google, based on its search engine that uses backlinks for ranking. By the early twenty-first century, Google had become the most popular search engine in the world.

Born in Moscow in what was then the Soviet Union, Sergey Brin grew up in a very intellectual Russian Jewish family. His mother was an aeronautical engineer and his father was a mathematician. By the time he was six, anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union had reached such a fevered pitch that his parents decided it was time to leave for their son’s sake.

When Brin’s family arrived in the United States, his father, who had formerly worked as an economist for the Soviet state planning agency, Gosplan, was able to secure a position teaching mathematics at the University of Maryland. A brilliant student, Brin took classes at the University of Maryland while still in high school. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he pursued a doctorate in computer science at Stanford University in Northern California. There he met Larry Page, with whom he designed a practical Internet search engine that they called Google. They both dropped out of Stanford in 1998 to start their company in a friend’s garage. Google had its initial public offering six years later.

Brin’s experiences have informed both Google’s corporate ethos (“Don’t be evil”) and his determination to make Google profitable. He takes a token salary of one dollar per year, instead depending on the value of his Google stock for his income. In 2009, Forbes magazine ranked the thirty-five-yearold billionaire Brin as the twenty-sixth richest person in the world.

Leigh Husband Kimmel

Further Reading

  • Battelle, John. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture. New York: Portfolio, 2005. 
  • Langville, Amy N., and Carl D. Meyer. Google’s PageRank and Beyond: The Science of Search Engine Rankings. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006. 
  • Vise, David A. The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time. New York: Macmillan, 2005. 

See also: Former Soviet Union immigrants; Jewish immigrants; Railroads; Religions of immigrants; Russian and Soviet immigrants.

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