The Stanford Daily has always been cautious about startups and their trajectories. Back in 1999, The Daily had the chance to speak to Sergey Brin MS ’95 Ph.D. ’98 and Larry Page M.S. ’98, about their (new at the time) venture Google. At the time, Google featured a Stanford-specific search feature. Anthony Chiu ’02, Contributing Writer at The Daily at the time, asserted that “[w]hile the future is not certain for the company that proclaims itself as “Stanford’s next big Internet startup,” Google has a good chance of success because of its flexibility.”
From the archives, 22 January 1999. The Stanford Daily, Volume 214, Issue 64.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of other successful Stanford Internet startups such as Yahoo! and Excite, two former Stanford doctoral students recently launched a new search engine company, Google.com. Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, discussed both the technical and business sides of their new company before about 40 people in the Gates Computer Science Building on Wednesday night. Frustrated by the irrelevant results that Internet searches often produce, Brin and Page worked for three years to find a better solution.
They came up with PageRank, a procedure that estimates the importance of Web pages by analyzing the link structure of the Web. “Every single Web page can affect every other Web page,” Brin said. “We consider not only [what pages] point to you, but how important they are.” With the rapidly increasing amount of information that is being added to the Internet, better search solutions are in high demand. As a result, Brin and Page saw the potential for a new company, which they have stopped out to pursue. “We had something really good at Stanford and we wanted to bring it to the world,” Brin said. Other unique features include a “Stanford Search,” which looks through Stanford Web pages, and a large number of cached pages. Cached pages are comparable to backup copies of sites, so that a user may still access the page even if it is not currently available. “Cached links are useful because if the page goes away or the server’s down, you can still get to it,” Brin said.
While the future is not certain for the company that proclaims itself as “Stanford’s next big Internet startup,” Google has a good chance of success because of its flexibility. “Fortunately, we’re not locked into any position,” Brin said, meaning that they have not yet had to decide, for example, whether to maintain a search site themselves or license their technology to others. Google is being backed by “a number of excellent ‘angels,’ only some of which we have made public,” Page said. These sources of funding include Andy Bechtolsheim, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, as well as Stanford Computer Science Prof. David Cheriton. In addition, Google plans to go public, ideally making its initial public offering within a year. This is ambitious, as companies usually take two to four years to reach that stage, according to Brin. The site is still resolving several problems. “Duplicate links … are the biggest problem we face right now.” Brin said. “That’s something that is going to have to be reworked in the next version.”