How did a couple of computer-science geeks transform themselves into global superstars? For the answer, do a search for the paper Moscow-born Sergey Brin and Michigan native Larry Page wrote in 1997, when they were pursuing Ph.D.s in computer science at Stanford. The title, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, doesn't trip off the tongue, but the authors get right to the point: "In this paper, we present Google."
Using some complex math, Page and Brin figured out how to index and rank websites in the order of how often they were linked toand to return search results in that order. The duo were so certain of their idea's merits that they quit school to start a company. Their business naiveté was a plus. It helped them avoid many common mistakes of the dotcom age. For instance, the site went live before Page and Brin had thought to hire a webmaster. So while search giants like Yahoo were filling their home pages with news headlines, stock quotes and sports scores, Google had nothing but a search box and logo. "Other companies would boast about how users spent 45 minutes on their site," says Page. "We wanted people to spend a minimum amount of time on Google. The faster they got their results, the more they'd use it." And use it they did. Six years later, Google has indexed 4 billion web pages, sees 200 million searches every day and has entered the language as a verb. Many of us wonder what we ever did without it.
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