Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin is an American business magnate and computer scientist who, with Larry Page co-founded Google, which is one of the most profitable Internet companies. As of June 2014, his personal wealth was estimated to be $30 billion, and together, Brin and Page own about 16 percent of Google.
(Picture: Sergey Brin, Google Inc)
Brin was born in Moscow in the Soviet Union to Russian Jewish parents, Michael Brin and Eugenia Brin, both graduates of Moscow State University. His father is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, and his mother a researcher at NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The economist newspaper referred to Brin as an «Enlightenment Man», and someone who belive that «knowledge is always good, and certainly always better than ignorance», a philosophy that is summed up by Google`s motto «Organize the world`s information and make it universally accessible and usesful» and «Don`t be evil».
When Brin was 6 years (1976) old, his family felt compelled to emigrate to the United States. Sergey`s father has earlier told that he was «forced to abandon his dream of becoming an astronomer even before he reached college».
He claims Communist Party heads barred Jews from upper professional ranks by denying them entry to universities, as Jews 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. At Moscow State University, Brin said, Jews were required to take their entrance exams in different rooms from non-Jewish applicants and they were marked on a harsher scale.
In 1977, after his father returned from a mathematics conference in Warsaw, Poland, he announced that it was tome for the family to emigrate. «We cannot stay here anymore», 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 said; «I was the only one in the family who decided it was really important to leave».
Sergey`s mother was less willing to leave their home in Moscow, where they had spent their entire lives, but the decision ultimately came down to Sergey. In May 1979, they were granted their official exit visas and were allowed to leave the country. «I know the hard times that my parents went through their and am very thankful that I was brought to the States», Sergey said in an interview in October 2000.
A few weeks before Sergey`s 17th birthday (1990), his father led a group og 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».
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.»
Brin attended grade 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.
He attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland. In 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.
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. As of 2008, he is on leave from his PhD studies at Stanford.
He met Larry Page at Stanford. Brin jokingly said; «We`re both kind of obnoxious». They seemed to disagree on most subjects, but after spending time together, they became intellectual soul-mates and close friends. Together, the pair authored a paper titled «The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine».
They both realized they had succeeded in creating a superior engine for searching the web and suspended their PhD studies to work more on their system. Mark Malseed, the co-founder of «The Google story», wrote; «Soliciting funds from faculty members, family and friends, Brin and Page scraped together enough to buy some servers and rent that famous garage in Menlo Park.
Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim wrote a $100,000 check to Google Inc, but the problem was that Google Inc did not yet exist. The company hadn`t yet been incorporated. For two weeks, as they handled the paperwork, the young men had nowhere to deposit the money.
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».
Others have compared their 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.
The authors of «The Google Story» wrote; «Not since Gutenberg…has any new invention empowered individuals, and transformed access to information, as profoundly as Google. Also not long after the two «cooked up their new engine for web searches, they began thinking about information that is today beyond the web», such as digitizing books, and expanding health information.
Sergey Brin married biotech analyst and entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki in the Bahamas in May 2007. She has an active interest in health information, and 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, http://www.23andme.com, which lets people analyze and compare their own genetic makeup (consisting of 23 pairs of chromosomes).
Together they have a son, born in December 2008, and a daughter, born in late 2011. In August 2013, it was announced Brin and Anne were living separately. Brin`s mother, Eugenia, has been diagnosed with Parkinson`s disease.
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 percent.
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 consider himself lucky, but Mr. Brin was making a much bigger point. Isn`t knowledge always good, and certainly always better than ignorance?
Sergey Brin is an investor in Tesla Motors, which has developed the Tesla Roadster, a 244-mile (393 km) range battery electric vehicle as well as the Tesla Model S, a 265-mile (426 km) range battery electric vehicle.
In 2008, he invested $4,5 million in Space Adventures, the Virginia-based space tourism company. Space Adventures, the only company that sends tourists to space, has sent five of the so far. He and Page are also trying to help solve the world`s energy and climate problems at Google philanthropic arm Google.org, which invests in the alternative energy industry to find wider sources of renewable energy.
Brin was also involved in the Google driverless car project, and in September 2012, at the signing of the California Driverless Vehicle Bill, Brin predicted that within five years, robotic cars will be available to the general public. Wow, we will wait for that car. What a great story!
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