[FoRK] NYTimes.com Article: 2 Wild and Crazy Guys (Soon to Be Billionaires), and Hoping to Keep It That Way

khare at alumni.caltech.edu khare at alumni.caltech.edu
Fri Apr 30 11:42:41 PDT 2004

The article below from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by khare at alumni.caltech.edu.

For the record... RK

khare at alumni.caltech.edu

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2 Wild and Crazy Guys (Soon to Be Billionaires), and Hoping to Keep It That Way

April 30, 2004


SAN FRANCISCO, April 29 - For Google's founders, Sergey
Brin and Larry Page, it is as if the dot-com glory days
never ended. 

Unlike many technology companies that have become less
freewheeling since the dot-com bust, Google has maintained
a casual corporate culture with on-site massage therapists,
free health-conscious meals and games of roller hockey in
the parking lot. 

That culture, which reflects the personalities of Mr. Brin,
30, and Mr. Page, 31, industry analysts say, is not likely
to change as the company goes public. 

"They've always wanted to express themselves as a different
kind of company," said Danny Sullivan, the editor of Search
Engine Watch, an industry newsletter. "They're very much
trying to inject their own personal values." 

The two men met in 1995 when Mr. Page was at a weekend for
new graduate students at Stanford University, having
graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in
computer engineering. Mr. Brin was one of a group of
students assigned to show Mr. Page around the campus.
According to industry lore, Mr. Brin and Mr. Page, both
highly opinionated people, argued often during that
weekend, though that sparring soon ended. 

Mr. Brin had come to the United States from Moscow at age 6
and followed in the footsteps of his father, a math
professor. He had finished his degree in computer science
and math at the University of Maryland and began as a
graduate student at Stanford in the fall of 1993. 

Mr. Page also comes from an academic family. His father,
Dr. Carl Page, is a highly regarded computer science
professor at Michigan State University, and is said to have
given his son his first computer at the age of 6. 

In 1996, the two men, working out of Mr. Page's dormitory
room, began collaborating on the development of a new
Internet search technology. They called their program
BackRub for its ability to analyze "back links," the
pointers from one Web site to another. Mr. Page, the
mechanical tinkerer of the pair, took on the task of
collecting and connecting inexpensive desktop personal
computers to form a home-made data center. 

The two spent until mid-1998 working on BackRub, and then
set out to sell licenses to the technology. Their immediate
goal was to move out of the dorms and pay off the credit
card debt they had amassed trying to expand their network. 

David Filo, the co-founder of Yahoo, another search
company that got its start on the Stanford campus,
encouraged them to create their own search company to sell
the technology; other Silicon Valley executives they talked
to were simply uninterested in the search category. 

But Andy Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems,
who was introduced to Mr. Brin and Mr. Page by David R.
Cheriton, a computer science professor at Stanford, was
immediately enthusiastic about their technology. He gave
them $100,000 at the first meeting. 

As Mr. Brin would later describe the meeting with Mr.
Bechtolsheim, "He had to run off somewhere, so he said,
'Instead of us discussing all the details, why don't I just
write you a check?' " Mr. Bechtolsheim made the check out
to Google Inc., essentially forcing the two men to set up a
corporation, if only to cash the check. 

Ultimately, Mr. Brin and Mr. Page raised $1 million from
family and friends, including Mr. Cheriton and Ram Shriram,
a former Netscape executive, enough to set up shop in a
rented house and garage in Menlo Park, Calif. Ron Conway
and Bob Bozeman, partners in Angel Investors, soon brought
in an assortment of other investors. Within a year, the
company moved to a suite of offices above a bicycle store
on University Avenue in Palo Alto. 

In June 1999, the two men sat down at the Ping-Pong table
that doubled as a conference table and secured a round of
financing from two of Silicon Valley's most prominent
venture capitalists, John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield
& Byers and Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital. Soon after,
America Online and Yahoo also invested in the new business.

Today, Google has nearly 2,000 employees and operates out
of a 500,000-square-foot headquarters in Mountain View,
Calif., which is affectionately known as the GooglePlex. 

The Form S-1 registration statement Google filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday disclosed
that Mr. Brin and Mr. Page each received $150,000 in salary
with bonuses of $206,550 in 2003. Each owns more than 38
million shares of Google stock and will become billionaires
with the company's initial public offering. 

Despite the company's meteoric growth the last few years,
Mr. Brin and Mr. Page made clear in their letter on the
registration statement that they intended to maintain
Google's unconventional culture and way of doing business
by "applying the values it has developed as a private
company to its future as a public company." 

Indeed, they devoted a section of their letter specifically
to their aspiration "to make Google an institution that
makes the world a better place." 

"With our products, Google connects people and information
all around the world for free," the letter said, adding
that "by releasing services for free, we hope to help
bridge the digital divide." 



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