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Larry Page, the co-founder of one of the world’s most famous technology companies, Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL, GOOG), formerly Google, is one of the world’s wealthiest people. Estimated at $66 billion in 2020, Page’s fortune was forged through tenacity, invention, and using his talents to benefit others. Here is how he became rich.
It was at Stanford University that Page’s future launched when he met Sergey Brin. At the time, the web was only five years old. Page paired with Sergey to do a dissertation on how websites linked together. The two created PageRank, which ranked websites based on the number of their page links. This eventually became the search engine they called Google after the mathematical term, googol, which represented the seemingly endless amount of data on the web. Google’s first version roamed the Stanford website in 1996, and it spread from there.
In 1998, Page and Sergey launched Google Inc. in a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, California, and a year later, moved to Mountain View, California, where they worked in several buildings called the Googleplex. In its first five years, Google became one of the fastest-growing companies ever with more than 18 million searches conducted a day. The company was featured in USA Today and listed in PC Magazine as one of its Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines for 1998.
Page started off as CEO, but then transferred to president of products in 2001, before reassuming his original position in 2011. By 2000, Google had become the top internet search engine, but it needed Eric Schmidt to become CEO in 2001 to make it profitable. In the next 10 years, the company produced email, translation, advertising, academic searching, and map services among other offerings. In 2002, it signed a deal with AOL that helped it dominate the Internet. In 2005, Google introduced a famous operating system for mobile phones called Android. Then, in 2006, the company purchased the video entertainment website, YouTube, for $1.65 billion.
By 2010, Google had become available in 130 languages, with 20,000 employees, and offices all over the world. In later years, Page spun Google off into the virtual sphere with Google self-driving cars, smart-home automation through Nest Labs, Google Glass, and a series of shrewd investments that included wind farms to produce electricity.
Each time, Page looked for usefulness above profitability and long-term potential above immediate financial gain. He unrolled the Chromebook in 2012. In 2013, Page unleashed a Google company called Calico that uses biotechnology to improve human health. In 2014, he spoke about Google X, now called X, which works on flying vehicles and is a network of balloons that will provide the Internet to those who can’t reach it. This is called Project Loon, and following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2017, Google was in a prime position to deploy its airborne WIFI. As of Oct. 20, 2017, Google was able to bring free internet to Puerto Rico.
One of Page’s personally funded companies is Kitty Hawk, an electric aircraft manufacturer of personal air vehicles. The company started off with promising prototypes, but has hit snags with safety and technical issues. Kitty Hawk and Boening entered into a joint venture, Wisk Aero, in December 2019. The goal is to continue to work on the Cora program started by Kitty Hawk, to deliver a self-flying, electric taxi.
The Bottom Line
Larry Page, who became a billionaire at 35, crafted 10 rules to become successful. Of these, one is to focus on the user. His motto is, “Don’t Be Evil,” meaning his goal is to search, not to sell. At the same time, he focused on doing one thing really well, which was to create a fast, savvy, and accurate search engine. Other rules are to continue to look for ways to improve his service and to set high, sometimes unattainable goals.
Page also relinquished control when necessary to make Google profitable. In a 2004 interview with Barbara Walters, the entrepreneur credited his success to his Montessori education, which trained him to be self-motivated and to do things his own way. True to spirit, Page keeps about 100 new projects under development at one time, usually trying 10 things that do not work before finding one idea that does work. He says that his aim is to do good rather than to become rich. All the same, Forbes credited him as the ninth richest person in the world in 2020.
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