Google cofounder Sergey Brin is stepping down as Alphabet’s president. Take a look inside his eccentric and wildly successful life.

Google’s cofounders are stepping down from their executive positions at the search engine’s parent company Alphabet, the pair announced Tuesday.

More than 20 years ago, Sergey Brin and Larry Page first launched Google from a dorm room near Stanford University. Since then, the company has grown into the world’s most popular search engine – and branched out into everything from self-driving cars to life-extension research.

It’s been a wild ride for both cofounders, but Brin’s history is especially intriguing. Keep reading to learn more about the 46-year-old Brin, who served as Alphabet’s president and is now worth more than $50 billion.

Jillian D’Onfro contributed to an earlier version of this story.


Sergey Brin, 46, is now valued at an estimated $56.8 billion, according to Forbes. But he comes from more humble beginnings.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


Brin was born in the Soviet Union during the summer of 1973. His father dreamed of being an astrophysicist, but his Jewish background and USSR’s anti-Semitism kept him from those ambitions. Instead, he ended up working as an economist for a government planning agency and crunching numbers for Soviet propaganda.

Source: In The Plex


The family managed to get exit visas and flee the USSR when Brin was six. However, but his family’s stressful, troubled experience left the Google cofounder with a lasting appreciation for democracy and freedom.

Source: In The Plex


The Brin family ended up in Maryland, where the Google cofounder was enrolled in a Montessori school that emphasized independence and fostering creativity. Later on, Brin would discover that his Google cofounder, Larry Page, had also gone to a Montessori school.

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computerstories.net / Flickr/TED Conference

Brin didn’t revisit Moscow until he was 17, during a class trip led by his father. “Thank you for taking us all out of Russia,” Brin told his dad. Spurred by a blossoming defiant streak, he threw pebbles at a police car, and almost got in serious trouble when the officers inside noticed.

Source: Moment Mag


Brin eventually earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science at the University of Maryland, and then flew west to Stanford to get his Ph.D. in computer science. There, his love of high-adrenaline exercise flourished: He tried out skating, skiing, gymnastics, and even trapeze.

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Brin live-streamed his sky-diving experience for the launch of Google Glass.
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Google+, Sergey Brin

Sources: Founders of Google, Moment Mag


Brin’s resume from back in 1996, as he was working toward his Ph.D. at Stanford, is still available online. Before Google, Brin was more focused on making an algorithm for personalized movie recommendations, or finding a way to automatically detect cases of copyright infringement.

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Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Brin met Google cofounder Larry Page at Stanford in 1995. The two reportedly found each other “obnoxious” at first, but they later became classmates and close friends who geeked out about computer science.

Source: Wired


Brin and Page started collaborating in 1996 on a search engine they initially called BackRub. They registered the domain Google.com in September 1997 with the mission to organize the world’s information, and dropped out of Stanford the following year to work on their search engine. The rest, as we now know, is history.

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Here’s what Google.com looked like in 1997.
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The Internet Archive

Source: Wired


The founders created the first Google Doodle ever in 1998 to let people know they weren’t around to do damage control if the site broke because they were at Burning Man, the free-wheeling art festival in the middle of the Nevada desert.

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Google

Both Brin and Page are “burners,” meaning they’re devout fans and attendees of Burning Man. When it came around to hiring an outside CEO for Google, they approved the hire of Eric Schmidt in 2001 after learning he had attended the festival. They then brought him to Burning Man with them to “see how he would do.”

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Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


As Google ballooned from simply a search engine to a huge company with dozens of diverse projects, Brin has been the mastermind behind some of the most ambitious ones as one-time head of X, the company’s moonshot factory. His projects included self-driving cars, smart contact lenses, and smart glasses.

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Source: The New Yorker


For a long time, you couldn’t spot Brin *without* the computerized Google Glass smart glasses. The New York Times reported that Brin may have played a big role in the product’s rocky launch in 2012, rushing it into the world before it was ready for public scrutiny.

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Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Source: The New York Times


Brin also worked on Google’s now-dismantled social network, Google+. He admitted on stage in 2014 that he should have never worked on it because he’s “kind of a weirdo” and not very social. “It was probably a mistake for me to be working on anything tangentially related to social to begin with,” Brin said.

Source: Verge


Even as Google has grown into a multi-billion dollar company, Brin has stood by his fitness obsession roots. He’s known to typically wear workout clothes and Vibram barefoot shoes, and he was frequently seen zipping around the office on roller blades, doing yoga stretches during meetings, or walking around on his hands for fun.

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jurvetson / Flickr, Amazon

Source: Business Insider


Brin also has a wild sense of humor. “He conducted job interviews once dressed as a cow,” early Google employee Douglas Edwards told Fast Company. As an April Fools’ joke, Brin once told pregnant Google employees that he would be offering birthing classes.

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Getty Images, Justin Sullivan

Source: Fast Company


However, a 2018 book also said that Brin was known as “the Google playboy” during the company’s early days. “He was known for getting his fingers caught in the cookie jar with employees that worked for the company in the masseuse room,” a former employee said. “He got around.”

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Sergey Brin, pictured, and Larry Page gave Conrad a commanding role at Verily.
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Stephen Lam/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Those who have known Brin attest to the fact that he truly does believe in using knowledge and power for the greater good. The Economist once called him the “Enlightenment Man,” for his dedication to using reason and science to solve huge world problems.

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Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Source: The Economist


“Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical,” Brin has said. “And ultimately making a big difference in the world.”

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Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Source: ABC News


Meanwhile, Brin got married in 2007 to Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of genetics company 23andMe and the sister of early Google employee (and now YouTube CEO) Susan Wojcicki. For the wedding, the couple invited guests to a secret location in the Bahamas and wore bathing suits for the ceremony — which took place on a sandbar.

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Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin.
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Flickr/Daniel Piraino, Donald Bowers/Getty Images

Source: Vanity Fair


Brin and Wojcicki have two children together, named Chloe and Benji. Both kids have the last name Wojin, a portmanteau of their parents’ last names.

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Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin.
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Steve Jennings / Stringer

Source: The New York Times


The couple donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charity, including at least $160 million to Parkinson’s research. The neurodegenerative disease runs in Brin’s family (both his great aunt and mother had it) and a test through 23andMe — Wojcicki’s company — revealed that Brin has a genetic mutation that makes him predisposed.

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Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Source: Inside Philanthropy


To lower his chances of getting Parkinson’s, Brin started exercising even more intensely and drinking green tea twice a day. Due to his health regimen and scientific progress, he estimated in 2010 that he now has only a ~10% chance of getting the disease.

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Brin, left,
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Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Source: Wired


However, Brin’s marriage to Wojcicki hit the rocks in 2013, and the couple separated. The couple officially finalized their divorce in June 2015 after eight years of marriage.

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Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

Source: Business Insider


It later came out that around the time of his separation in 2013, Brin started an affair with a Google employee named Amanda Rosenberg, who was also in a relationship with another high-level Google executive at the same time.

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Amanda Rosenberg, the woman Brin allegedly had an affair with.
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AJ+/YouTube

Source: Vanity Fair, Business Insider


In the more than 20 years since founding Google, Brin and Page have accumulated a great deal of dispensable income. In 2005, they bought a 50-person plane together. Brin also owns a superyacht, which he bought back in 2011 for $80 million.

Source: Business Insider


Brin owns real estate in both New York City and Los Altos, California. He’s invested quite a bit of money in Los Altos through a real estate investment firm called Passerelle Investment Co., which has helped mom-and-pop, kid-friendly stores and cafes spring up or stay in business.

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Los Altos, California.
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Flickr / Tina Case

Source: Wall Street Journal


As of 2015, Brin employed at least 47 people to manage his personal affairs— including a yacht captain, personal shopper, and a former Navy SEAL — through a company called Bayshore Global Management.

Source: Bloomberg and New Zealand Herald


Brin’s position at Google got a massive upgrade in August 2015, when Google became a subsidiary of a parent company named Alphabet. Brin transitioned from “director of special projects” at X to become the president of Alphabet.

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Re/code, Asa Mathat

Source: Business Insider


Nowadays, Brin is linked to the founder of a legal tech startup named Nicole Shanahan. The couple has been linked together since 2015 — that same year Brin officially divorced Wojcicki — although they didn’t make their first public appearance until a year later.

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Sergey Brin and Nicole Shanahan.
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Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Source: Business Insider


The couple has a baby girl together who was reportedly born in late 2018. It was recently reported that Brin and Shanahan secretly got married sometime last year, although the couple hasn’t confirmed it.

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Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


On Tuesday, Brin and Page announced in a joint statement they were stepping down from their respective roles at Alphabet. “We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company,” they wrote.

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Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
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Getty

Source: Business Insider


Brin will remain a member of Alphabet’s Board of Directors, and he still has controlling voting shares at the company. There’s no word on who will replace Brin as Alphabet’s president, or if the position will be eliminated as Sundar Pichai becomes CEO of both Google and Alphabet.

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Stephen Lam/Reuters

Source: Business Insider