Collaboration

Geek Trivia: Put your money where your mouse is

Who was the investor that gave Sergei Brin and Larry Page their first infusion of cash to build Google?

Who was the investor that gave Sergei Brin and Larry Page their first infusion of cash to build Google — a Silicon Valley heavyweight who made his name building a different technology corporation to fame and fortune?

The investor was Andy Bechtolsheim. He gave Brin and Page their first $100,000 of investment cash. Bechtolsheim could afford to throw around that kind of money because he was so successful in a previous endeavor as a cofounder of Sun Microsystems. Bechtolsheim's check was made out to "Google Inc." even though at the time there was no Google, Inc. — Brin and Page hadn't yet incorporated, and in fact didn't even have a checking account into which they could deposit the money.

The money helped, both in encouraging other investors and allowing Google to get its technology up to speed. By the end of 1998, Google's algorithm had generated an index of 60 million pages. A year later, the company had leased space in Mountain View, CA at 1600 Amphitheater Way — an address that today is known as the original Googleplex.

As for Bechtolsheim, he very much got his money's worth from the investment. Google has been profitable every year since 2001, and when the company filed its unconventional initial public offering in 2004, it generated over $1.6 billion and resulted in a market capitalization for Google valued at over $23 billion. (Ironically, Yahoo! was one of the pre-IPO investors in Google, with an equity stake that is now equal to 2.7 million shares.)

How successful is Google? The company's name is now a verb — to the point it must defend its trademark from genericide — as recognized by Merriam-Webster's and the Oxford English dictionaries.

Today, Google is one of the most well known and influential media and technology companies on the planet. It has research and development relationships with several major technology outfits including the NASA Ames Research Center, with which they are developing next-generation grid computing systems, and — in what may be considered coming full circle — Sun Microsystems, with which Google is developing and distributing the OpenOffice application suite.

That's not just some fantastic financial foresight on the part of Bechtolsheim, it's an exponentially expansive example of high-tech Geek Trivia.

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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