Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sergey Brin

During the internet frenzy of the 1990’s one of the most intense competitions was for dominance in the search engine market. The Search Engine Wars were led initially by Alta Vista and Inktomi, who offered larger search indexes than any of their competitors. The competition to offer the largest index led to leapfrogging technology, offering fast access from engines like Northern Night and AlltheWeb. Google entered the competition in June of 2000, setting the bar at 500 million pages, and over the next several years fought a constant battle to offer the biggest index that moved quickly into the billions.

At the time, it seemed that this battle would constantly be led by the site with the best technology, but that this lead would change hands fairly rapidly as new technologies emerged. But instead trying to establish dominance on this front alone, Google has become a dominant force on the web by branching out to its current multi-faceted role of providing everything from e-mail to document storage to online shopping to even its more recent expansion into web-based application provision.

All of this has led to a ten year old company with a market capitalization in excess of $100 billion, making co-founder Sergey Brin one the richest men in the world.

Born in the Soviet Union, educated in America, Sergey Brin met up with Larry Page while working on his PhD at Stanford. Together they developed their new technology for search engines and started Google. Within 5 years of this meeting, the search engine devised by Brin and Page became the most commonly used engine on the net.

Being the most used search engine is a valuable accomplishment, but, as evidenced by the intense competition of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, one that was expected to be fleeting. However, Brin’s vision for Google was to become the Microsoft of the internet. He envisioned Google as the first place people would want to go for all of their needs on the internet. At the time of Google’s rise, everyone was panicked that Microsoft’s dominance in operating system provision would naturally extend to the internet and the “solution” was to challenge this dominance on antitrust grounds. Brin instead took the fight directly to Microsoft, intent on building a better product and breaking Microsoft’s hold on the typical computer user with this superior technology. This is the essence of the capitalist spirit, the reason for his tremendous success, and the reason that I see Sergey Brin as a Hero of Capitalism.

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