Who Started Google?: The Early Years of the World's Most Popular Search Engine

Who Started Google?: The Early Years of the World's Most Popular Search Engine
Page content


In the 1990s, the World Wide Web started to become very popular since it offered a visually appealing way to view information on the Internet. Unfortunately, it was often very difficult to locate information. One early approach to organizing information on the Web came in the form of directories like Yahoo!. This approach proved to very successful, but it did not completely satisfy the need to find websites and webpages. That solution came in the form of a search engine, a technology created at Stanford University. Learn more about who started Google below…

Google at Stanford

The web search engine at the heart of Google’s success and popularity was created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996-1997. Larry Page was born in East Lansing, Michigan and likely became interested in mathematics and computers due to his parents, who both worked as computer science professors at Michigan State University. After earning an undergraduate degree in computer science, Page went on to complete a Master’s at Stanford and then enrolled in the PhD program. His PhD research focused on the structure of the World Wide Web. During his time at Stanford, Page developed the PageRank concept. PageRank still lies at the core of Google’s ability to produce search results.

During these studies, Page met Sergey Brin, a fellow computer science student at Stanford. Brin was born in Russia but his family came to the United States in 1979 when he was six. Like Page, Brin’s family had a tradition of studying mathematics. Brin’s father, Michael Brin, is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland. Brin’s mother, Eugenia Brin, is a NASA scientist. Sergey Brin completed his undergraduate studies in math and computer science at the University of Virginia before moving to Stanford.

The newly created Google service operated from Stanford’s servers for about a year. Google proved so popular that it consumed a large percentage of the university’s Internet bandwidth. The University encouraged Brin and Page to take their project off campus. It was relocated to Menlo Park, California in September 1998.

Google Becomes A Company: 1998-Present

Google Beta (Image Credit: Archive.org)

With $100,000 in funds from Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun, Google was incorporated in September 1998. From 1998 to 2000, Google received more funding from investors (Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins invested $25 million in Google in June 1999) and continues to expand. Over this period, Google had not yet found a clear way to make money. Despite this flaw, Google continued to become more and more popular.

Google hit on a winning business model in the year 2000. The launch of AdWords, an advertising service where advertisements would be displayed to users depending on their search (e.g. if a user entered a search for cars, then there would likely be an AdWords advertisement displayed about cars), changed the company forever. It quickly became profitable and no longer had to depend completely on investor funds. Over the years, Google has added more and more services to supplement its Internet search capability (e.g. e-mail, blogging and news), but the company’s revenues still ultimately depend on advertising revenue.


To learn about the technology behind Google, the company’s early years and more about who started Google, consult these resources:

Google history, https://www.google.com/corporate/history.html#1995-1997

Image Credit: Internet Archive/Google (1999)

John Battelle, The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, 2005