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Inside the Life and Career of Larry Page, Google's Co-Founder and First CEO As of April 2024, Page's net worth was around $143 billion.

Key Takeaways

  • Larry Page cofounded Google with his Stanford graduate school classmate Sergey Brin.
  • Page served as CEO of Google from its founding until 2001 and again between 2011 and 2015.
  • Page helmed Google's parent company, Alphabet, from 2015 to 2019, when Sundar Pichai took over.
Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters via Business Insider
Larry Page is the famously soft-spoken computer scientist who cofounded Google, then later led both Google and Alphabet as CEO.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Larry Page is the founder of one of the most influential tech companies in the world.

The quirky, soft-spoken computer scientist cofounded Google with Sergey Brin in 1998. As Google evolved into a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut, Page stayed at the helm, first as Google's CEO and later running its parent company, Alphabet.

In 2019, Page stepped down from his role at Alphabet and handed over control to Sundar Pichai. (He remains a board member and controlling shareholder of the company.)

In the years since stepping down, Page has become a virtual recluse. He spent much of the pandemic holed up on his private Fijian island, Tavarua, and burned through hundreds of millions of dollars on a futuristic car company called Kittyhawk, which shut down in 2022.

So who is Larry Page and how did he get to where he is today? Here's his story.

Page's early life

A building labeled

Both of Page's parents worked at Michigan State University. Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images via BI

Page was born on March 26, 1973, the second son of Gloria and Carl Page — who both taught computer science at Michigan State University.

The Pages filled their home with computers and tech magazines that enthralled Larry from a young age.

They enrolled Page in a Montessori school, a program that fosters independence and creativity.

Page now credits "that training of not following rules and orders, and being self-motivated and questioning what's going on in the world" as influencing his attitude and work.

At 12, Page read a biography about the brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla, who died in debt and obscurity. The ending made him cry and inspired Page not only to want to build world-changing technologies but to have the business sense to know how to promote them.

"I figured that inventing things wasn't any good," he has said. "You really had to get them out into the world and have people use them to have any effect."

Besides tinkering with electronics, Page also played saxophone while growing up and has said his musical training contributed "to the high-speed legacy of Google."

Page and Sergey Brin create Google

Sergey Brin and Larry Page sit on a red recliner on Google's campus.

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page met as students at Stanford. Associated Press

During his time as an undergrad at the University of Michigan, Page started mulling the future of transportation, something he's still interested in.

He joined the school's solar car team and suggested that Michigan build a monorail-like "personal rapid-transit system" between its campuses.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has developed self-driving cars through Waymo, the company formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car project. Alphabet also dabbled in data-driven transportation improvements through Sidewalk Labs, which abandoned its ambitious plan for a high-tech neighborhood in Toronto in 2020.

After graduation, Page headed west to Stanford for his Ph.D., where he met Sergey Brin in 1995.

The two became close friends, geeking out about computer science.

When he was 23, Page woke up from a dream wondering if he could "download the whole web."

So he started working on an idea to rank webpages by their inbound links, instead of by how many times they contained a queried word. He enlisted Brin's help, and they started collaborating on a search engine they initially called BackRub.

Soon, BackRub became Google, a play on the mathematical term "googol" which signifies 1 followed by a hundred zeroes.

The endeavor reflected Page and Brin's mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Both Page and Brin have been known as "burners," or avid attendees of the free-wheeling art festival Burning Man.

The year after incorporating Google, they created the first-ever Google Doodle to let people know they weren't around to do damage control if the site broke — they had retreated to the Nevada desert for the festival.

Page's leadership roles at Google

Google cofounder Larry Page speaks into a microphone in front of a backdrop with the Google logo.

Page served as CEO of Google from its founding until 2001, and again between 2011 and 2015. Associated Press via BI

In the past, Page has admitted that he's better at big-picture ideas than management, partly because he doesn't enjoy dealing with people. As a leader, he focused on results and has an affinity for ultra-ambitious ideas.

When Page was first CEO, he wrote down the following management rules that guided him:

  • Don't delegate: Do everything you can yourself to make things go faster.
  • Don't get in the way if you're not adding value. Let the people actually doing the work talk to each other while you go do something else.
  • Don't be a bureaucrat.
  • Ideas are more important than age. Just because someone is junior doesn't mean they don't deserve respect and cooperation.
  • The worst thing you can do is stop someone from doing something by saying, "No. Period." If you say no, you have to help them find a better way to get it done.

Page ran Google as CEO until 2001 when Eric Schmidt was brought in to lead the company as its "adult supervision."

Brin and Page were wary of all the CEO candidates, but they took Schmidt to Burning Man and felt that at least he'd be a good fit for the company.

Page wasn't happy about having to relinquish his CEO spot at first. Eventually, though, he became comfortable being less involved in the company's day-to-day management.

Page remained actively involved in Google's product and vision during that time.

He orchestrated the acquisition of Andy Rubin's company, Android, without telling Schmidt until he'd sealed the deal.

But after 10 years, Page decided to take back the CEO title in 2011.

Page reorganizes Google

Google cofounder Larry Page looks over his shoulder, smiling.

Page helmed Google's parent company, Alphabet, until Sundar Pichai eventually took over as CEO. Andrew Kelly/Reuters via BI

Page reorganized the company's senior management, and before the end of 2012, the company had launched several new endeavors.

They included Google Plus, its first Chromebook laptop, Google Glass, high-speed-internet service Fiber, and more.

Page continued leading Google until 2015 when the company blew up its corporate structure, and Page became the CEO of the parent company Alphabet instead. Brin would take over as president.

In a letter to investors introducing Alphabet, Page wrote: "For Sergey and me this is a very exciting new chapter in the life of Google—the birth of Alphabet. We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity's most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search!"

He added that "alpha" itself is an investment return above the benchmark — exactly what they would be striving for with Alphabet.

In his role as CEO of Alphabet, Page spent much of his time researching new technologies, meeting and enlisting really smart people, and imagining what Alphabet's next moonshot bet might be.

In the letter he wrote to investors introducing Alphabet, Page also said, "In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed." That meant Page was also spending time scouting talent for chief executive roles for Alphabet's many divisions.

Page's personal life

Google cofounder Larry Page attends an event with his wife, Lucinda Southworth.

Google cofounder Larry Page and his wife, the scientist Lucinda Southworth C Flanigan/FilmMagic via BI

Throughout it all, Page has kept information about his personal life closely guarded. In a rare event in 2013, however, he opened up about having vocal cord paralysis.

The condition makes his voice softer than it used to be and makes long monologues difficult.

In 2007, Page married Lucinda Southworth, a research scientist. The couple rented out a private island in the Caribbean and invited 600 guests. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was Page's best man.

Page isn't particularly showy with his wealth, but he lives well. He reportedly owns multiple homes in the Palo Alto area.

Page owns a mansion that spans 8,149 square feet, with six bedrooms and six bathrooms that he purchased in 2005 for $7 million. A couple of years later, Page built another, more "eco-friendly" home on the property that is close to 6,000 square feet and includes an elevator, a roof with solar panels, and a rooftop garden.

In September 2021, one of Page's properties caught fire and was partially destroyed by fire.

At the time, it was also unclear who — if anyone — was living in the mansion. The city of Palo Alto issued a violation notice that the home should not be used for business purposes that October.

Page's flashiest purchase is perhaps the 194-foot superyacht called "Senses," which he bought for $45 million in 2011 with a helipad and Jacuzzi on its deck.

Page has since sold the yacht and downsized to an array of smaller vessels, according to people familiar with his activities.

Page, Brin, and Schmidt have purchased at least eight private jets between them.

In 2006, court documents revealed that Schmidt had to help settle an argument between the Google co-founders, who were bickering about what size beds the "party plane" needed. They also wanted to outfit the plane with hammocks and a cocktail bar.

Investments and philanthropy

Page has also dedicated part of his wealth to causes he believes in.

In 2004, he started The Carl Victor Page Memorial Foundation in honor of his father.

Carl Page died soon after Larry left for grad school because of complications caused by polio he contracted as a child.

Page has also spoken out about his father's influence in shaping his career. "My dad was really interested in technology," Page said at Google I/O in 2013.

"He actually drove me and my family all the way across the country to go to a robotics conference," he said. "And then we got there and he thought it was so important that his young son go to the conference, one of the few times I've seen him really argue with someone to get in someone underage successfully into the conference, and that was me."

The persistence paid off.

Alphabet's search engine ads machine pumps out so much money that the company can afford to spend on "other bets" that Page is passionate about, like building smarter home appliances, spreading internet through its Project Loon balloons, and extending human life.

He's also long been fascinated by flying cars and launched Kittyhawk, a mysterious flying-car startup, under the name Zee Aeroin 2010. At first, Page would regularly pop into Kittyhawk's office to experiment on the workbench, but as the years went on, he began showing up less often. Then Kittyhawk shut down in 2022.

Life after Google

Waves crash along the beach at Cayo Norte, an island in Puerto Rico.

Google cofounder Larry Page bought Cayo Norte, an island in Puerto Rico. Hugh Langley/Business Insider

In December 2019, Page and Brin announced in a letter that they were stepping down from their respective roles as Alphabet CEO and president.

"Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President," the pair wrote. They added that it was time for them to "assume the role of proud parents—offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!"

Since stepping down, Page has largely kept out of the public eye, sharing his post-Alphabet endeavors with a small group of confidantes.

He maintains a network of properties and investments through Koop, Page's cloak-and-dagger family office.

Page owns at least five islands across the Caribbean and the South Pacific. He owns a majority stake in the leaseholder corporation of Tavarua, an island in Fiji, where he and his family holed up during the pandemic. Page also bought Cayo Norte, a large private island in Puerto Rico, for around $32 million through a limited liability company, US Virgin Island Properties, that he's been using to buy islands. He also owns an organic farm, Atomic Farm.

As of April 2024, Page's net worth of $143 billion put him at No. 7 on Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.

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