It is often said that tech is the new oil and the facts are there for all to see. Take, for instance, the covid-19 pandemic shutdown of 2020. While several companies went out of business, tech companies made impressive profits, as many people switched to online mediums with their owners smiling to the banks. Amongst the biggest beneficiaries of this phenomenon were Google co-founders; Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who joined the centibillionaire club for the very first time.
For those who may not know, a centibillionaire is one who has a wealth of up to a hundred billion in any currency. Going by Forbes valuation, only eight persons in the history of humankind have achieved that feat, with the latest being Larry Page and Sergey Brin. So, how exactly did the Google duo manage to accomplish that feat? We chronicle their incredible story below.
How Larry Page and Sergey Brin Became the Latest Centibillionaires in the World
Larry Page and Sergey Brin attained centibillionaire status for the first time in April 2021 when Forbes valuation showed that they were worth $104 billion and $100 billion. The achievement was simply one more remarkable milestone in an incredible journey that dates back to 1996. As the story goes, the two first ran into each other while pursuing their doctorate degrees at Stanford in 1995. They reportedly found each other obnoxious initially but later discovered their mutual love for all things computer science and became friends without much ado. The two men collaborated on several school projects over time, and one of them was a search engine dedicated to organizing all the info on the internet.
They initially called it BackRub and tried to sell the software. They found no buyers and were forced to now incorporate a company to go into business themselves. That inability to find new buyers must have stung, but it would later turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Page and Brin as their creation has grown into one of the most valuable companies in the world. Led by their search engine, which is the most visited website globally, Google is now a trillion-dollar company. They generate tens of billions in revenue each year, and a good portion of this goes to the two founders who own 14% of the company and control 56% of the voting shares.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin first achieved a million-dollar net worth in 1999. In 2004, Google went public, and they became billionaires. The progression would continue, and by 2016, Page was worth $38.5 billion while Brin was worth $37.5 billion. By 2020, their respective net worths were now in the $60 billion range, and a strong outing that year finally tipped them into the centibillionaires club. According to reports, Google generated about $46.43 billion in revenue in 2020 (compared to $37.57 billion in 2019), while their share price also gained 80%, thus accounting for Page and Brin’s new status.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin launch Google in a Menlo Park garage.
They try to sell Google for $750,000 but are turned down.
They step down from their roles at Google’s parent company Alphabet.
Their combined stake in the company is worth $123.3 billion. pic.twitter.com/4aehSq59ml
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) December 3, 2019
Page is Richer Than Brin Because He Owns More Google Shares
Anyone who has keenly followed the duo of Larry Page and Sergey Brin over the years would know that the former has always been slightly wealthier than his partner. Page was the first to hit the million-dollar mark in 1999 before Brin followed. The same pattern repeated in 2004 when Google went public and Page became a billionaire before Brin. Both men are now centibillionaires and Larry Page is once again wealthier with a net worth of $104 billion compared to Brin’s $100 billion.
This is because Page has a higher ownership stake in Google (6%) than Brin (5%). It, therefore, means that he gets higher returns and dividends than the latter. Additionally, Page has also invested in other companies such as Planetary Resources, Kitty Hawk, and Opener while Brin is more attuned to using his own money to fund some projects close to his heart. Ironically, while Page has more money than Brin, Brin seems to be the bigger spender. For instance, he (Brin) has a 73-meter superyacht worth $80 million. Known as Dragonfly, the yacht has an open-air cinema, Jacuzzi, and dance floor and can carry about 34 people in total.
Page, on his own part, is the owner of a 60-meter vessel known as Senses. Worth $45 million, Senses features a Jacuzzi, sundeck and has space for about 12 persons. The situation is also the same with real estate. Larry Page is the owner of a $7.2 million Spanish colonial mansion located in Palo Alto while Brin owns several houses in places such as California and New York City. There is no competition between both men though as they co-own their own private jet. Google also has a private airport and a fleet of planes which is said to worth as much as $82 million.
— Google AI (@GoogleAI) May 22, 2015
Both Men Have Stepped Down from Their Active Google Roles and are now Involved in Other Interests
In 2019, Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced their joint decision to step away from active roles at Google and its parent company, Alphabet. They still retain voting shares though and are often consulted on the directions that the company would take, but they are no more involved in the day-to-day running of the company. This leaves them with free time on their hands and they are now pursuing things that interest them.
For instance, Brin spent much of 2019 holed up in Alphabet’s Moonshot Research Lab X – a division of the company that tries to solve humanity’s problems through radical technologies. He is also working on building a flying airship, a $150 million project totally funded by him. Brin has also been spotted doing stuff such as kiteboarding and trapeze. This is much unlike Page who has largely disappeared from the spotlight since 2016 when he met with a group of business leaders at Trump Tower. Part of the reason behind Page’s retreat from the spotlight is said to be vocal cord problems stemming from an old infection.
— Forbes (@Forbes) December 4, 2019
Other Centibillionaires in the World
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the latest to join the world’s exclusive club of centibillionaires. Prior to this achievement, only six people had previously achieved such honors. They are:
- Bill Gates
- Jeff Bezos
- Benard Arnault
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Elon Musk
- Warren Buffet
The first man to achieve a net worth of $100 billion was none other than Microsoft founder Bill Gates as far back as the year 1999. His wealth subsequently slumped with the dot.com bubble and he would only regain the status a decade later in 2019. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reached the mark in 2017 while the French business magnate of the LVMH fame, Benard Arnault, became a centibillionaire in 2019. Others that subsequently came after them include the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk in 2020 and ace American investor, Warren Buffet, in March 2021.