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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK
Profile: The Google founders
By Will Smale
BBC News Online business reporter

Larry Page (left) and Sergey Brin, Google founders
Larry and Sergey - the boys next door made very good.
The founders of the Google internet search engine - Larry Page and Sergey Brin - are the type of young men most parents would dream of their daughters bringing home.

And far from simply because they will both be billionaires following a stock market flotation of Google.

Instead, most mums and dads would also be drawn to the facts that both men are very clean cut in appearance, undeniably hard working and intelligent, and seem, well, just "nice".

They are your text book, well presented, quietly well behaved "boys next door" from a smart middle class American suburb.

Only a lot richer.

Google staff play roller hockey
A hard day at the office for Google's staff
Yet far from living an extravagant lifestyle, complete with yachts and private jets like fellow software leader Oracle boss Larry Ellison, Mr Page, 31, and Mr Brin, 30, are both reported to continue to live modest, unassuming lifestyles.

They don't even have sports cars, and instead are said to each drive a Toyota Prius, a plain-looking but rather environmentally friendly saloon that is half electric-powered, and growing in popularity among green-minded Americans.

Mr Brin's father even claimed recently that his son still rents a modest two bedroom apartment.

Garage industry

Mr Page and Mr Brin just happen to be geniuses with computers and, by extension, the founders of the world's most popular internet search engine.

Google logo
Google is the undisputed world number one internet search engine

Today both barely in their thirties, the two first met at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, where they were doing doctorates in computer sciences.

Apparently, they did not immediately hit it off, but they became friends while developing a new system of internet search engine from their college dormitory.

Initially called BackRub, they created a software system whereby the search engine would list results according to the popularity of the pages, after realising that more times than not the most popular result would also be the most useful.

So after changing its name to Google they dropped out of college (although Mr Brin is officially still on leave) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Pulling together $1m from family, friends and other investors, on 7 September 1998 Google was commercially launched from a friend's garage.

Growth was quick.

Initially, Google got 10,000 queries per day compared with 200 million today.

Family influences

Both Mr Page and Mr Brin come from an academic and computer science or mathematical background.

Toyota Prius. Pic from Toyota website
The Google founders both drive a Toyota Prius - a very "green" car

Larry - or Lawrence - Page was born and raised in Michigan, the son of Carl Page, a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence.

Page Senior earned a doctoral degree in computer science in 1965, back when the subject was still in its infancy, and went on to become a computer science professor at Michigan State University.

His wife, and Larry Page's mother, also worked in computers, teaching computer programming.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Larry Page says he fell in love with computers at the tender age of six.

Mr Brin is a Muscovite by birth, the son of a Soviet mathematician economist.

His family, who are Jewish, emigrated to the US in 1979 to escape persecution, and Mr Brin went on to get a degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Maryland, before enrolling at Stanford University as a postgraduate.

Hippy mantra

Google today has its headquarters at Mountain View in the heart of California's famous Silicon Valley, where certain quirks are in place to keep staff happy.

The Google piano
A member of the Google team plays a tune

These include weekly games of roller-hockey in the car park, an on-site masseuse and a piano.

And each member of the team is given one day a week to spend on their own pet projects.

In a nod to the county's former hippy past, the company's head chef is said to have formerly worked for the rock band Grateful Dead.

There is also something very 1960s California about what Mr Page and Mr Brin say is their philosophy.

As Mr Page recently explained to ABC News: "We have a mantra: 'Don't be evil', which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone.

"So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing."

Nice boys, you see. Wealthy yes, and maybe a little quirky too, but still very nice.

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"Unlike many internet firms Google does make money"

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