Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Cofounders; president (Brin) and CEO (Page), Google
Before it was used as a verb, Google was a research project called BackRub. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who met at Stanford, eventually came up with a catchier name and raised $1 million from family, friends, and tech-industry insiders who were impressed with their search engine.
Nearly 20 years later, the two founders oversee the world’s second-most valuable company, behind Apple, with a catalogue of massive services, including the video site YouTube, smartphone software Android, and Google Maps, that generate about $75 billion in annual revenue. Page and Brin’s obsession with game-changing “moonshot” projects have pushed the company to make big bets on futuristic technology, like self-driving cars and smart contact lenses, that have the potential to upend entire industries.
The company’s list of perks are legendary in Silicon Valley, with employees getting everything from gourmet food to free fitness classes and massages. In August 2015, Page and Brin created a new parent company called Alphabet to better manage the 65,000 employees and the growing collection of businesses created since the original search engine launched.