Persons of the Week: Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Two young men in their 30s have had an extraordinary impact on people's lives … millions of people. Their universe got bigger this week, and thus so did the world's.

Most people know Sergey Brin's and Larry Page's invention well.

It's Google, the world's most popular Internet search engine. And this week, a billion new Web sites were added to the service.

"It is a tremendous responsibility for us to have all the eyes focused on what we do and give people exactly what they need when they ask for it," said Page.

His partner, Brin, said, "As we go forward, I hope we're going to continue to use technology to make really big differences in how people live and work."

Brin and Page's invention has become a touchstone of American culture.

"When we set out in the kind of early Web days, we didn't decide to do online horoscopes or invitation services, but search, which is about information, which can make a real difference in people's lives," said Brin.

The average Google search takes about a half second, driven by 10,000 interconnected Google computers.

Google is global.

It offers answers to questions like, "What's the speed of light?," and it provides everything you ever wanted to know about King Tut or a potential date. Google even allows users to ask questions in Chinese, Swedish or 100 other languages.

It has been said that even the CIA is a client of Google technology.

Started as Research Project

The search engine started as a research project when Page and Brin were students at Stanford University.

They didn't quite start in a garage. Instead, they started in Page's dorm room. But in the great tradition of invention, they later moved to a garage.

The pair borrowed money from professors, family and anyone they could. And their invention took off, as Page says, like a virus.

The two stumbled onto building a search engine; it wasn't their initial intention. Today they have 1,000 employees.

"I am sometimes something of a lazy person, so when I end up spending a lot of time using something myself — as I did with Google in the earliest of days, I knew it was a big deal," said Brin.

The competition to be the search engine of choice is fierce. Yahoo and Microsoft want to be No 1, and Google is now rumored to be going public this year. Enter "Google IPO" on the search engine, and there are 224,000 pages on it alone.

An Early Start

So who are Brin and Page?

Brin was born in Moscow, and his family came to America in 1979. His father was a math teacher, but he became a university professor in the United States.

"It was really for my father and my mother about having opportunity," Brin said.

Page's father taught computer science, and as a result, Page got his first computer when he was 6 years old.

Said Page: "I remember turning in my first assignment in elementary school using the computer and the teachers were kind of confused that I had printed it."

The two men live and work well. And to attract a competent and loyal staff, they had to make the office a place where people wanted to be.

"The food that we have here on campus is one of the best decisions we ever made," said Brin.

Their chef is rumored to have once cooked for the Grateful Dead.

Page and Brin don't have much free time. Both are single and they eat a lot of dinners at work. But Brin does have an interesting hobby.

"I like to do a variety of acrobatic things," he said. "I even did flying trapeze for a little while. Right now I have a little bit of a back injury, so I'm focusing on more mental sports." The two have interesting life philosophies.

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

Brin added, "Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world."