Google’s founders may have conquered the internet world in 2005 – but given their outsized ambitions, this may only be a start.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who are on Friday named as Men of the Year by the Financial Times, harbour hopes that reach well beyond their search engine business to “make the world a better place”, a promise made at the time of Google’s initial public offering last year.
“I don’t think we particularly restrict ourselves or have a 20-year vision or anything like that,” Mr Brin told the Financial Times. “I don’t think we’re averse to doing something new.”
Applying the vast computing power that lies behind Google’s internet search engine to solving other complex problems in fields such as microbiology could be one area for expansion, according to the Google founder. “We have certain core assets and understand certain kinds of technology well,” Mr Brin said, though he added: “It takes a little bit of discipline to focus on the things that can be really impactful.”
The Men of the Year recognition reflects the effect the company created by Mr Brin and Mr Page only seven years ago has had on internet users, as well as the worlds of business and technology, in the past 12 months.
“The most esteemed researcher at Stanford [University] 10 years ago didn’t have the kind of access to information that somebody who is close to an internet café in Bangladesh has today,” said Mr Brin.
Its soaring stock price has also made Google one of Wall Street’s stories of the year. It has a stock market value of nearly $130bn, almost neck-and-neck with IBM and behind only Microsoft and Intel in the technology industry.
The men, who are only 32, see plenty of scope to improve Google’s core product. “It’s clear there’s a lot of room for improvement, there’s no inherent ceiling we’re hitting up on.”