It was arguably the longest-awaited retirement in the history of the tech industry – and the slowest: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded today's global corporation Google 21 years ago in a garage in Menlo Park, California, say goodbye to their leadership responsibilities Parent company alphabet.
The news, released yesterday by Google yesterday, caused surprisingly little excitement. This has to do with the fact that Brin and Page had been working on their own disappearance for quite some time. And with the majority of the world's audience, who are rather uninterested in the news of the tech world, the reaction to the personality was well: Oh, they were still there?
And yet, the departure of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two of the most influential pioneers in the digital economy, marks the end of an era, not just Google.
Brin and Page, Page and Brin: Among the two handfuls of names from Silicon Valley's big tech leaders – from C like Cook to Z like Zuckerberg – the Google founders were probably the least well-known. Or most private. About the inventors of the global data collection machine Google, who knows more about most people than any other company or government, we know next to nothing.
Invisible Founders: Lead or leave?
After the long and phenomenal rise of their Stanford research project to become one of the most valuable companies on the planet, in 2015 they relinquished Google's leadership to today's CEO Sundar Pichai. And retired to chair the newly formed over-holding alphabet, which will now also head Pichai, as a double CEO.
Alphabet, the labyrinthine web of all Google's daughters and siblings, gave Brin and Page the best ways to hide. In recent years, the two were barely visible in public. They have not even commented on product presentations at the annual Big I / O Google conferences, and this year they are said to have stopped attending the traditional weekly Google internal meetings where employees can ask management questions.
Also to the younger internal controversies of the group – employee protests because of sexual harassment in the workplace, criticism of the staff at plans for a government-compliant Chinese search engine – they expressed themselves hardly. That's why on Google itself, the displeasure with Brin and Page should be loud and the desire, the simultaneously absent and absent fathers should either lead or disappear – "lead or leave". Page and Brin had long since opted for the latter.
Page and Brin took care of Alphabet's subcontractors
Unhindered from day-to-day business and earning money, they took care of other bets on the future under the protection of the new company structure: sub-contractors named Alphabet "Other Bets" engaged in development projects such as the autonomous vehicle (Waymo), artificial intelligence (DeepMind), or extended life (Calico) deal. Page was also involved in the co-founded by the German Sebastian Thrun flight car startup Kitty Hawk.
In the video from 2015: How Larry Page became Mr. Google
Sergey Brin and Larry Page will continue to hold seats on the Board of Directors, with significant voting rights over the company's fortunes. Their departure is also more symbolic: the visionaries have done their duty, the visionaries can go.
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While other tech-savvy giants such as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), or Tim Cook (Apple) have been confronted with abusive questions from MEPs on data abuse, election manipulation, tax fraud, or antitrust violations during recent hearings in Washington, Sergey Brin and Larry Page decided to keep playing. They were, if you will, the last great dreamers of Silicon Valley, and they never stopped.
However, other unpleasant things, such as the general techlash, the Silicon Valley crisis of meaning and Elizabeth Warren's "Break Up Big Tech" campaign call, are to be taken care of by others – and Google, Sundar Pichai. At a time when political struggles and PR battles are more important than technical innovation for the big names in the digital economy, Pichai becomes the company's only public face. Also for this purpose serves the retreat of the founders.