Question to Larry Page (interview year 2000):
Why is it that you perceived the need for Google before anyone else did?
Well, it’s actually a great argument for pure research.
We didn’t start out to do a search engine at all. In late 1995, I started collecting the links on the Web, because my advisor and I decided that would be a good thing to do. We didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with it, but it seemed like no one was really looking at the links on the Web — which pages link to which pages. In computer science, there’s a lot of big graphs. Right now, (the Web) has like 5 billion edges and 2 billion nodes. So it is a huge graph. I figured I could get a dissertation and do something fun and perhaps practical at the same time, which is really what motivates me.
I started off by reversing the links, and then I wanted to find basically, say, who links to the Stanford home page, and there’s 10,000 people who link to Stanford. Then the question is, which ones do you show? So you can only show 10, and we ended up with this way of ranking links, based on the links. Then we were like, “Wow, this is really good. It ranks things in the order you would expect to see them.” Stanford would be first. You can take universities and just rank them, and they come out in the order you’d expect. So we thought, “This is really interesting. This thing really works. We should use it for search.” So I started building a search engine. Sergey also came on very early, probably in late ’95 or early ’96, and was really interested in the data mining part. Basically, we thought, “Oh, we should be able to make a better search engine this way.”
Search engines didn’t really understand the notion of which pages were more important. If you typed “Stanford,” you got random pages that mentioned Stanford. This obviously wasn’t going to work.
Stanford is a great place to do things like that. I didn’t start out building a search engine. I just said, “Oh, the links on the Web are probably interesting. Why don’t we try doing something with that?” I was pretty lucky that it was a useful thing to do. If you’re doing something you’re not sure is going to work at all, a company probably isn’t the right place to be doing it.
The above is an excerpt from a rare and very interesting interview to the Google founders.
I also found Sergey Brin’s Stanfords’ homepage!: http://infolab.stanford.edu/~sergey/
I just finished reading In the Plex: How google thinks, works and shapes our lives. Recomended by Charlie Munger, it gives an excellent insight and a lot of knowledge into the company.
Now I am starting to read another Google book: Googled – Ken Auletta