The insanely successful life of Google cofounder Sergey Brin

Google just pressed the reset button, completely overhauling its corporate structure through the formation of a brand new parent company called Alphabet.

This change comes nearly 20 years after cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin first launched Google from a dorm room in Stanford.

It’s been a wild ride for both of them since, but Brin’s history is especially intriguing.

Learn more about the man behind the world’s most popular search engine:

With the announcement of Alphabet, Brin got a title upgrade, transitioning from overseeing the moonshot factory Google X as 'director of special projects' to being president of the new parent company.

Re/code, Asa Mathat

At the time, his father Michael dreamed of being an astrophysicist, but anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia coupled with his Jewish background kept him from those ambitions and even made it hard for him to find work as a mathematician -- he ended up working as an economist for a government planning agency, crunching numbers for Soviet propaganda. The family managed to get exit visas and flee the USSR when Sergey was six, but his family's stressful, troubled experience left the Google cofounder with a lasting appreciation for democracy and freedom.

Source: In The Plex

(Here he is 'hanging out' with whistle-blower Edward Snowden at a 2014 TED conference.)

Chris Anderson

Source: TechCrunch

Brin first re-visted Moscow when he was 17 on a class trip led by his father. 'Thank you for taking us all out of Russia,' he told Michael Brin solemnly. Spurred by a blossoming defiant streak, he threw pebbles at a police car, almost getting in serious trouble when the officers inside noticed.

Wikimedia Commons

Source: Moment Mag

Eventually, Brin earned his bachelor's in mathematics and computer science at the University of Maryland, and then flew west to Stanford to get his PhD. There, his love of high-adrenaline exercise flourished, as he tried out skating, skiing, gymnastics, and even trapeze.

Google+, Sergey Brin
For the launch of Google Glass, Brin live-streamed his sky-diving experience.

Source: Founders of Google and Moment Mag

At Stanford, Brin met Larry Page in 1995. The two became close friends, geeking out about computer science. They started collaborating on a search engine they initially called BackRub.


They registered the domain in September 1997 with the mission to organise the world's information. The rest is history.

Here's what looked like in 1997.

Both Brin and Page are 'burners,' meaning they're devout fans of Burning Man, the free-wheeling art festival in the middle of the Nevada desert. They created the first Google Doodle ever in 1998 to let people know they weren't around to do damage control if the site broke. They eventually only approved the hire of former CEO Eric Schmidt after they heard he loved Burning Man, too.



As Google ballooned from simply a search engine to a huge company with dozens of diverse projects, Brin has been the mastermind for some of the most ambitious, including self-driving cars, smart contact lenses, and Google Glass.

Meanwhile, Brin married Anne Wojcicki -- CEO of genetics company 23andMe and sister of early Google employee Susan Wojcicki -- in 2007.

Steve Jennings / Stringer

Over the years, the techie couple has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charity, including at least $160 million to Parkinson's research. It's a cause that's particularly important for Brin. The neurodegenerative disease runs in his family -- both his great aunt and mother had it -- and a test through 23andMe revealed that Brin has a genetic mutation that makes him predisposed.

Brin hasn't had the kind of smooth-sailing in his love-life as he did in starting a career though. Unfortunately, he and Wojicki's marriage hit the rocks when Brin allegedly had an affair with a fellow Google employee in 2013. The couple officially finalised a divorce in June 2015, after eight years of marriage.

Amanda Rosenberg, the woman Brin had an affair with, with her previous boyfriend and former Google-exec Hugo Barra. Brin and Rosenberg are no longer romantically connected.

Source: Vanity Fair and Business Insider

'Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical,' Brin has said. 'And ultimately making a big difference in the world.'


Source: Vanity Fair and ABC News

But, certainly a rich one, at any rate. After Google delivered a bang-up Q1 earnings report, the stock had its largest one-day rally ever, and both Brin and Page added about $4 billion to their fortunes.

Getty Images, Justin Sullivan

Source: Business Insider

Now that he's president of Alphabet, he'll likely keep spouting innovative ideas to help steer the company. 'We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about,' Page wrote about he and Brin's mission in the Alphabet announcement.

Getty, Matthew Peyton

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