If you know about search engines, you know about Sergey Brin.
Although Brin stepped down as President of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in 2019, he is still deeply embedded in the Alphabet as a controlling shareholder and board member.
The meteoric success his companies have made Brin the richest immigrant in America (he immigrated to the U.S. with his family from the Soviet Union when he was just six years old) and gave him membership to an exclusive group of centibillionaires. With a net worth of around $120 billion, Brin is ranked the seventh richest person in the country.
Founding a search engine
Brin studied mathematics and computer science in Maryland, before pursuing a PhD in computer science at BrinStanford University, where he met Page.
Despite rubbing each other the wrong way at first, the pair became “intellectual soul mates” and started building what would become Google from their dorm rooms. They quickly outgrew the space and moved into a garage where they officially launched Google in 1998.
Google went public in 2004 and began trading as Alphabet, a new parent company for Google and other acquisitions — including YouTube, Android and Gmail, in 2015. Brin became president of the company, and Page CEO. Four years later, the pair stepped down from their roles, saying it was time to pass the day-to-day management and running of the 21-year-old business over to new “parents.”
Since the 2004 IPO, Bloomberg reports that Brin has sold shares valued at more than $10 billion. In mid-2021, sold another $610 million worth of stock. The billionaire owns both Class B and Class C shares, giving him an aggregate stake of about 6% of the business, according to a January 2022 filing.
Because Brin is one of Alphabet’s largest individual shareholders, by proxy he owns parts of all Alphabet's subsidiary companies. Currently, Alphabet has 200 subsidiary businesses in a variety of sectors, including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, advertising, computer software, computer hardware and life sciences. It is worth $2 trillion, making it the third most valuable company in the world after Microsoft and Apple.
The subsidiaries include:
Google operates as a multinational technology company with multiple internet services and products including Google Cloud, Google Maps, Google Play, Google Search, ads, Android, Chrome, hardware and YouTube.
Built by then college students Page and Brin, Google has become one of the most powerful and popular internet companies in the world. Currently, Google has nearly 300 products, rakes in over $200 billion per year and employs close to 300,000 team members.
Video-sharing platform YouTube is one of Google’s earliest and most expensive acquisitions. With more than 2 billion monthly users, YouTube is one of the most visited websites in the world, so it's no wonder that Google was eager to purchase it. Founded in 2005 by three early PayPal employees, YouTube was initially launched as a platform for video dating profiles. However, based on feedback from users, it quickly rebranded as a free video hosting platform for all content. YouTube quickly gained popularity and just 18 months after its founding, Google acquired the company for $1.65 billion.
Waymo is an autonomous driving technology company designed to build the world’s most experienced and safest driver. Previously referred to as Google’s “self-driving car project,” Waymo was founded in 2009 by co-creator of Google Street View, Sebastian Thrun. In 2016, seven years after its founding, it was revealed that the self-driving car project was now its own organization called Waymo, and would be a subsidiary of Alphabet. Today, its autonomous vehicles have driven over 20 billion real-world and simulated miles and offer taxi services and trucking and delivery solutions.
Calico is a research and development company that uses advanced technologies to better understand the biology of aging and how we can combat the diseases that are caused by it. It was founded in 2013 by Bill Maris and Arthur D. Levinson and is backed by Google, functioning as a self-operating subsidiary within Alphabet, with Levinson serving as CEO.
In 2021, Google completed its $2.1 billion acquisition of the health and fitness technology brand Fitbit. Founded in 2007, Fitbit is an American consumer electronics company best known for its wearable technology, fitness monitors and activity trackers. It was created by James Park (CEO) and Eric Friedman (CTO) who saw the potential in integrating sensors into wearable devices. Many others saw the potential in the concept as well, which led the two to receive initial funding and thousands of preorders. Once its first product, Fitbit Classic, launched in 2009, the company quickly rose in success. Fitbit went public in 2015 and in 2019 Google announced its plans to acquire the brand. Now, Fitbit is an autonomous subsidiary of Google’s computer hardware sector.
On top of his stake in Alphabet, and all the companies that come with it, Brin also owns stakes in at least two other companies: Tesla and 23andMe (which was founded by his ex-wife).
Tesla was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, named after electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Since the start, the company has designed and manufactured electric cars and over the years, it has added services such as battery energy storage, solar panels, solar roof tiles, and additional related services. The company’s purpose, CEO Elon Musk says, is using electric vehicles and solar power to expedite the world’s move to sustainable energy.
Due to the popularity of the vehicles, and the company’s battery and solar ventures, Tesla reached a valuation of $206 billion in early 2020. In 2021, it went on to hit a market capitalization of $1 trillion — the sixth company to reach that height in U.S. history. The company’s growth has been bolstered by key acquisitions and powerful subsidiaries, which have both increased production capacity and speed, and lowered end costs for consumers.
23andMe is a personal genomics and biotechnology company with big dreams of using data to revolutionize health, wellness and research, with the ultimate goals of improving healthcare and preventing disease. It’s best known for its a direct-to-consumer genetic testing service, where customers provide a saliva sample and get back reports on their ancestry and genetic predispositions.
In 2021, the company, founded by Brin’s ex-wife Anne Wojcicki, went public in a SPAC by Virgin Group’s Richard Branson that valued it at $3.5 billion.
In recent years, Brin has been relatively private about his personal and business lives, but there are multiple reports of him funding and building an up to $150 million high-tech airship at a NASA research center near Mountain View, California. The aircraft, which has been said to be a sort of “sky yacht,” would ferry supplies for humanitarian missions, and also act as a super yacht in the sky for family and friends.
The “sky yacht” isn’t Brin’s first foray into the world of aircraft. In 2012, it was reported that Brin and Page, along with former CEO Eric Schmidt, own eight planes, including two Gulfstream Vs, a Boeing 757 and a Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet fighter plane. And it doesn’t stop there — they even have their own private terminal at Mineta San Jose International Airport. In 2014, Google also took the reins of Moffett Field from NASA in a 60 year lease, which Google manages through its real estate subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC.
Get in front of millions of visitors and job seekers.
- Showcase your company culture to a vast community of professionals
- Host your team on a free org chart to keep employees aligned
- Post jobs on our free job platform for high growth startups