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Sergey Brin

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This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Mikhaylovich and the family name is Brin.

Sergey Brin
File:Sergey Brin cropped.jpg
Sergey Brin in 2008
Born Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin
Серге́й Миха́йлович Брин

(1973-08-21) August 21, 1973 (age 46)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union[1]
Residence Los Altos, California
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Maryland (BS 1993)
Stanford University (MS 1995)
Known for Co-founder of Google
Net worth 11px US$ 29.5 billion (March 2015)[2]
Title Director of Google X and Special Projects
Spouse(s) Anne Wojcicki (m. 2007)(separated)[3]
Children 2
Signature 150px
Website – Sergey Brin

Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (Russian: Серге́й Миха́йлович Брин; born August 21, 1973) is an American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who, together with Larry Page, co-founded Google, one of the most profitable Internet companies.[4] According to Hurun Global Rich List 2015 he is jointly one of three people listed as 18th richest in the world (21 overall) with a net worth of US$30 billion.[5] Brin and Page each own about 16 percent of the company.

Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of 6. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science. After graduation, he moved to Stanford University to acquire a PhD in computer science. There he met Larry Page, with whom he later became friends. They crammed their dormitory room with inexpensive computers and applied Brin's data mining system to build a web search engine. The program became popular at Stanford and they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in a rented garage.

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"[6][7] and unofficial motto "Don't be evil".

Early life and education

Brin was born in Moscow in the Soviet Union to Russian Jewish parents, Mikhail Brin and Yevgenia Brin, both graduates of Moscow State University.[8][9] His father is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, and his mother a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.[1][10][11]

In 1979, when Brin was six years old, his family felt compelled to emigrate to the United States. In an interview with Mark Malseed, co-author of The Google Story,[12] Sergey's father explains how he was "forced to abandon his dream of becoming an astronomer even before he reached college". Michael Brin claims Communist Party heads barred Jews from upper professional ranks by denying them entry to universities, and that Jews were excluded from the physics departments in particular. Michael Brin therefore changed his major to mathematics where he received nearly straight A's. He said, "Nobody would even consider me for graduate school because I was Jewish."[10] According to Brin, at Moscow State University, Jews were required to take their entrance exams in different rooms from non-Jewish applicants and they were marked on a harsher scale.[13]

The Brin family lived in a three-room apartment in central Moscow, which they also shared with Sergey's paternal grandmother.[10] Brin told Malseed, "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. In 1977, after his father returned from a mathematics conference in Warsaw, Poland, Michael Brin announced that it was time for the family to emigrate. "We cannot stay here any more", he told his wife and mother. At the conference, he was able to "mingle freely with colleagues from the United States, France, England and Germany and discovered that his intellectual brethren in the West were not 'monsters.'" He added, "I was the only one in the family who decided it was really important to leave."[10]

Sergey's mother was less willing to leave their home in Moscow, where they had spent their entire lives. Malseed writes, "For Genia, the decision ultimately came down to Sergey. While her husband admits he was thinking as much about his own future as his son's, for her, 'it was 80/20' about Sergey." They formally applied for their exit visa in September 1978, and as a result his father was "promptly fired". For related reasons, his mother also 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.[10] At an interview in October 2000, Brin said, "I know the hard times that my parents went through there and am very thankful that I was brought to the States."[14]

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. 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.'"[10]

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 in Greenbelt, Maryland. In September 1990 Brin enrolled in the University of Maryland to study computer science and mathematics, where he received his Bachelor of Science in May 1993 with honors.[15]

Brin began his graduate study in computer science at Stanford University on a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation. In 1993, he interned at Wolfram Research, who were the developers of Mathematica.[15] As of 2008, he is on leave from his PhD studies at Stanford.[16]

Search engine development

During an orientation for new students at Stanford, he met Larry Page. They seemed to disagree on most subjects. But after spending time together, they "became intellectual soul-mates and close friends". Brin's focus was on developing data mining systems while Page's was in extending "the concept of inferring the importance of a research paper from its citations in other papers".[7] Together, the pair authored a paper titled "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine".[17]

To convert the backlink data gathered by BackRub's web crawler into a measure of importance for a given web page, Brin and Page developed the PageRank algorithm, and realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to existing ones.[18] The new algorithm relied on a new kind of technology that analyzed the relevance of the backlinks that connected one Web page to another.[19]
File:Page+brin by origa.jpg
Page and Sergey Brin
Combining their ideas, the pair began utilizing Page's dormitory room as a machine laboratory, and extracted spare parts from inexpensive computers to create a device that they used to connect the nascent search engine with Stanford's broadband campus network.[18] After filling Page's room with equipment, they then converted Brin's dorm room into an office and programming center, where they tested their new search engine designs on the Web. The rapid growth of their project caused Stanford's computing infrastructure to experience problems.[20]

Page and Brin used the former's basic HTML programming skills to set up a simple search page for users, as they did not have a web page developer to create anything visually elaborate. They also began using any computer part they could find to assemble the necessary computing power to handle searches by multiple users. As their search engine grew in popularity among Stanford users, it required additional servers to process the queries. In August 1996, the initial version of Google, still on the Stanford University website, was made available to Internet users.[18]

By early 1997, the BackRub page described the state as follows:

File:Websites interlinking to illustrate PageRank percents.png
The mathematical website interlinking that the PageRank algorithm facilitates, illustrated by size-percentage correlation of the circles. The algorithm was named after Page himself.
Some Rough Statistics (from August 29th, 1996)
Total indexable HTML urls: 75.2306 Million
Total content downloaded: 207.022 gigabytes
BackRub is written in Java and Python and runs on several Sun Ultras and Intel Pentiums running Linux. The primary database is kept on a Sun Ultra series II with 28GB of disk. Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg have provided a great deal of very talented implementation help. Sergey Brin has also been very involved and deserves many thanks.
- Larry Page[21]

BackRub already exhibited the rudimentary functions and characteristics of a search engine: a query input was entered and it provided a list of backlinks ranked by importance. Page recalled: "We realized that we had a querying tool. It gave you a good overall ranking of pages and ordering of follow-up pages."[22] Page said that in mid-1998 they finally realized the further potential of their project: "Pretty soon, we had 10,000 searches a day. And we figured, maybe this is really real."[20]

Some compared Page and Brin's vision to the impact of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of modern printing:

In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg introduced Europe to the mechanical printing press, printing Bibles for mass consumption. The technology allowed for books and manuscripts – originally replicated by hand – to be printed at a much faster rate, thus spreading knowledge and helping to usher in the European Renaissance ... Google has done a similar job.[23]

The comparison was also noted by the authors of The Google Story: "Not since Gutenberg ... has any new invention empowered individuals, and transformed access to information, as profoundly as Google."[12] Also, not long after the two "cooked up their new engine for web searches, they began thinking about information that was at the time beyond the web," such as digitizing books and expanding health information.[20]

Other interests

Brin is working on other, more personal projects that reach beyond Google. For example, he and Page are trying to help solve the world's energy and climate problems at Google's philanthropic arm, which invests in the alternative energy industry to find wider sources of renewable energy. The company acknowledges that its founders want "to solve really big problems using technology".[24]

In October 2010, for example, they invested in a major offshore wind power development to assist the East coast power grid,[25] which will eventually become one of about a dozen offshore wind farms that are proposed for the region.[26] A week earlier they introduced a car that, with "artificial intelligence", can drive itself using video cameras and radar sensors.[24] In the future, drivers of cars with similar sensors would have fewer accidents. These safer vehicles could therefore be built lighter and require less fuel consumption.[27] They are trying to get companies to create innovative solutions to increasing the world's energy supply.[28] He is an investor in Tesla Motors,[29] which has developed the Tesla Roadster, a Script error: No such module "convert". range battery electric vehicle as well as the Tesla Model S, a Script error: No such module "convert". range battery electric vehicle.

In 2004, he and Page were named "Persons of the Week" by ABC World News Tonight. In January 2005 he was nominated to be one of the World Economic Forum's "Young Global Leaders". In June 2008, Brin invested $4.5 million in Space Adventures, the Virginia-based space tourism company. His investment will serve as a deposit for a reservation on one of Space Adventures' proposed flights in 2011. Space Adventures, the only company that sends tourists to space, has sent five of them so far.[30]

Brin and Page jointly own a customized Boeing 767-200 and a Dornier Alpha Jet,[31] and pay $1.3 million a year to house them and two Gulfstream V jets owned by Google executives at Moffett Federal Airfield. The aircraft have had scientific equipment installed by NASA to allow experimental data to be collected in flight.[32][33]

In 2012, Brin has been involved with the Project Glass program and has demoed eyeglass prototypes. Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD).[34] The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands-free displaying of information currently available to most smartphone users,[35] and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[36]

Brin was also involved in the Google driverless car project. In September 2012, at the signing of the California Driverless Vehicle Bill,[37] Brin predicted that within five years, robotic cars will be available to the general public.[38]

Brin is a supporter of lab-grown meat and kite-energy systems.[39][40]

The Economist magazine describes Brin's approach to life, like Page's, as based on a vision summed up by Google's motto, "of making all the world's information 'universally accessible and useful'".

Personal life

File:Sergey Brin, Web 2.0 Conference.jpg
Sergey Brin in 2005 at the Web 2.0 Conference

In May 2007, Brin married biotech analyst and entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki in the Bahamas.[41][42]

She has an active interest in health information, and together she and Brin are developing new ways to improve access to it. As part of their efforts, they have brainstormed with leading researchers about the human genome project. "Brin instinctively regards genetics as a database and computing problem. So does his wife, who co-founded the firm, 23andMe", which lets people analyze and compare their own genetic makeup (consisting of 23 pairs of chromosomes).[7] Brin and Wojcicki have a son, born in December 2008, and a daughter, born in late 2011.[43] In August 2013, it was announced Brin and his wife were living separately.[44][45]

Brin's mother, Eugenia, has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In 2008, he decided to make a donation to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where his mother is being treated.[46] Brin used the services of 23andMe and discovered that although Parkinson's is generally not hereditary, both he and his mother possess a mutation of the LRRK2 gene (G2019S) that puts the likelihood of him developing Parkinson's in later years between 20 and 80%.[7] When asked whether ignorance was not bliss in such matters, he stated that his knowledge means that he can now take measures to ward off the disease. An editorial in The Economist magazine states that "Mr Brin regards his mutation of LRRK2 as a bug in his personal code, and thus as no different from the bugs in computer code that Google’s engineers fix every day. By helping himself, he can therefore help others as well. He considers himself lucky. ... But Mr. Brin was making a much bigger point. Isn’t knowledge always good, and certainly always better than ignorance?"[7]

Brin and his wife also run The Brin Wojcicki Foundation.[47]

Censorship of Google in China

For more details on this topic, see Censorship in the People's Republic of China.

Remembering his youth and his family's reasons for leaving the Soviet Union, he "agonized over Google's decision to appease the communist government of China by allowing it to censor search engine results", but he decided that the Chinese would still be better off than without having Google available.[7]

On January 12, 2010, Google reported a large cyber attack on its computers and corporate infrastructure that began a month earlier, which included accessing two Gmail accounts and the theft of Google's intellectual property. After the attack was determined to have originated in China, the company stated that it would no longer agree to censor its search engine in China and may exit the country altogether. David Drummond, Google's Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, reported that "a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, but that the attack also targeted 20 other large companies in the finance, technology, media and chemical sectors."[48][49] It was later reported that the attack had also targeted "one of Google's crown jewels, a password system that controls access by millions of users worldwide".[50]

In late March 2010, it officially discontinued its China-based search engine while keeping its uncensored Hong Kong site in operation. Speaking for Google, Brin stated during an interview, "One of the reasons I am glad we are making this move in China is that the China situation was really emboldening other countries to try and implement their own firewalls."[51] During another interview with Der Spiegel, he added, "For us it has always been a discussion about how we can best fight for openness on the Internet. We believe that this is the best thing that we can do for preserving the principles of the openness and freedom of information on the Internet."[52]

Senator Byron Dorgan stated that "Google's decision is a strong step in favor of freedom of expression and information." And Congressman Bob Goodlatte said, "I applaud Google for its courageous step to stop censoring search results on Google has drawn a line in the sand and is shining a light on the very dark area of individual liberty restrictions in China."[53] From the business perspective, many recognize that the move is likely to affect Google's profits. The New Republic adds that "Google seems to have arrived at the same link that was obvious to Andrei Sakharov: the one between science and freedom," referring to the move as "heroism".[54]

Awards and accolades


In 2002, Brin, along with Larry Page, was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100, as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[55] 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...".[56] 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 announcing their selection, John Jay Iselin, the Foundation's president, congratulated the two men for their invention that has fundamentally changed the way information is retrieved today."

In 2003, Brin and Page were both Award Recipients and National Finalists for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award [57]

In 2004, Brin received the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award with Larry Page at a ceremony in Chicago, Illinois.[58]


In November 2009, Forbes decided Brin and Page were the fifth most powerful people in the world.[59] 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".[60] In their "Profiles" of Fellows, the National Science Foundation included a number of earlier awards:
he was a featured speaker at the World Economic Forum and the Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference. ... PC Magazine has praised Google in the Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines (1998) and awarded Google the Technical Excellence Award, for Innovation in Web Application Development in 1999. In 2000, Google earned a Webby Award, a People's Voice Award for technical achievement, and in 2001, was awarded Outstanding Search Service, Best Image Search Engine, Best Design, Most Webmaster Friendly Search Engine, and Best Search Feature at the Search Engine Watch Awards.[61]

According to Forbes, he is the 20th richest person in the world with a personal wealth of US$30 billion as of June 2014.[62]


Year Title Role Notes
2013 The Internship himself (cameo)


  1. ^ a b "Sergey Brin". NNDB. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mallon, Bridget (September 4, 2013). "Google Co-Founder Confirms Separation". Huffington Post. 
  4. ^ "Daily Market Beat – Trinity Investment Research". Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
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  6. ^ "Google's Mission". Google. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Enlightenment Man". The Economist. December 6, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Dominic Lawson: More migrants please, especially the clever ones", The Independent, U.K., October 11, 2011
  9. ^ Brin, Michael; Brin, Eugina (November 25, 2012). Freedom 25: Sergey Brin Joined the March Long Before Founding Google (Podcast). Freedom 25. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Malseed, Mark (February 2007). "The Story of Sergey Brin". Moment Magazine. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ Smale, Will (April 30, 2004). "Profile: The Google founders". BBC News. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Vise, David, and Malseed, Mark. The Google Story, Delta Publ. (2006)
  13. ^ Dominic Lawson (October 11, 2011). "More migrants please, especially the clever ones". The Independent (London). 
  14. ^ Scott, Virginia. Google: Corporations That Changed the World, Greenwood Publishing Group (2008)
  15. ^ a b Brin, Sergey (January 7, 1997). "Resume". Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Sergey Brin: Executive Profile & Biography". Business Week. Retrieved March 9, 2008. He is currently on leave from the PhD program in computer science at Stanford university... 
  17. ^ doi:10.1016/S0169-7552(98)00110-X
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  18. ^ a b c John Battelle (13 August 2005). The Birth of Google "The Birth of Google". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  19. ^ Moschovitis Group. The Internet: A Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 2005.
  20. ^ a b c "Enlightenment man". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Downloaded 11 – February 2009. Retrieved on May 29, 2011[dead link][dead link]
  22. ^ "Wired 13.08: The Birth of Google". 
  23. ^ "Google the Gutenberg". Information Technology. October 1, 2009
  24. ^ a b "Cars and Wind: What's next for Google as it pushes beyond the Web?" Washington Post, October 12, 2010
  25. ^ "The wind cries transmission" Official Google Blog, October 11, 2010
  26. ^ "Google joins $5 billion U.S. offshore wind grid project" Reuters October 12, 2010
  27. ^ Markoff, John. "Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic", New York Times, October 9, 2010
  28. ^ Guynn, Jessica (September 17, 2008). "Google's Schmidt, Page and Brin hold court at Zeitgeist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  29. ^ "Brin & Page invest in Tesla Motors". eweek. 
  30. ^ Schwartz, John (June 11, 2008). "Google Co-Founder Books a Space Flight". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2008. 
  31. ^ Helft, Miguel (October 23, 2008). "Dornier Alpha Jet for Google's Founders". New York Times. 
  32. ^ Helft, Miguel (September 13, 2007). "Google Founders’ Ultimate Perk: A NASA Runway". The New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2007. 
  33. ^ Kopytoff, Verne (September 13, 2007). "Google founders pay NASA $1.3 million to land at Moffett Airfield". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 13, 2007. 
  34. ^ Goldman, David (April 4, 2012). "Google unveils 'Project Glass' virtual-reality glasses". Money (CNN). 
  35. ^ Albanesius, Chloe (April 4, 2012). "Google 'Project Glass' Replaces the Smartphone With Glasses". PC Magazine. 
  36. ^ Hubbard, Amy (April 6, 2012). "Sergey Brin wears Project Glass; Google specs spur fear, punch lines". LA Times. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  37. ^ "California Legislature Approves Driverless Vehicle Bill – Senator Padilla's Legislation Establishes Performance and Safety Standards | Senator Alex Padilla". Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Google's Sergey Brin: You'll ride in robot cars within 5 years | Cutting Edge – CNET News". CNET News. San Francisco: CBS. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Google and Wind Energy: Acquisition of Makani Kite Power", Peak Oil.
  40. ^ Adario Strange, "Google co-founder Sergey Brin backs lab-grown beef", Dvice, August 5, 2013.
  41. ^ Argetsinger, Amy; Roberts, Roxanne (May 13, 2007). "Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts – Oprah Winfrey's Degrees of Communication at Howard". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  42. ^ "Anne Wojcicki Marries the Richest Bachelor". Cosmetic Makovers. Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  43. ^ "The Way I Work: Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe". 
  44. ^ Liz Gannes, "Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin and 23andMe Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki Have Split", All Things Digital, August 28, 2013
  45. ^ Alan Farnham, "Google: Men Apparently Do Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses", ABC News, September 3, 2013.
  46. ^ Helft, Miguel (September 19, 2008). "Google Co-Founder Has Genetic Code Linked to Parkinson's". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2008. 
  47. ^ "Dynamodata". 
  48. ^ "Google, Citing Cyber Attack, Threatens to Exit China", New York Times, January 12, 2010
  49. ^ "Official Google Blog: A new approach to China". Official Google Blog. 
  50. ^ "Cyberattack on Google Said to Hit Password System" New York Times, April 19, 2010
  51. ^ "Brin Drove Google to Pull Back in China" Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2010
  52. ^ "Google Co-Founder on Pulling out of China" Der Spiegel, March 30, 2010
  53. ^ "Goodlatte Statement in Support of Google's Decision to Stop Censoring in China". Bob Goodlatte. March 23, 2010. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. 
  54. ^ "Don't Be Evil", "The Heroism of Google", The New Republic, April 21, 2010
  55. ^ "2002 Young Innovators Under 35: Sergey Brin, 28". Technology Review. 2002. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  56. ^ Brin and Page Awarded MBAs, Press Release, September 9, 2003
  57. ^ "15 Local Business Leaders Receive Awards for Their Success in Business And The Community." 15 Local Business Leaders Receive Awards for Their Success in Business... PR NewsWire, 23 June 2003. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <>.
  58. ^ "Academy Achievement Golden Plate". 
  59. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People: #5 Sergey Brin and Larry Page" Forbes, November 11, 2009
  60. ^ National Academy of Engineering, Press Release, February 6, 2009
  61. ^ National Science Foundation, Fellow Profiles
  62. ^ "Sergey Brin". Forbes. October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 

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