I recently had the remarkable chance to catch Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, doing interview rounds with a number of journalists. He was kind enough to spare me a few minutes, especially when he saw that I brought treats. A slightly edited version of that interview is below.
Kevin Cole: Sergey, it’s a pleasure to have you here and I thank you for being willing to sit down with us for a bit.
Sergey Brin: No problem. Ilm happy to do this, especially since you guys provided such great cookies.
KC: You’re very welcome. I wanted to start with something that I think speaks very highly of Google, and that is its transformation into a verb.
SB: One of my favorite tributes to the company, I have to be honest.
KC: When did you realize this phenomenon and how did you feel about joining the likes of Xerox and Kleenex?
SB: I’d forgotten about Kleenex. I don’t actually use that expression, although I know many other people do. But yes, of course I was very pleased. I don’t remember when I first heard someone say, “just Google it” or whatever, but I imagine it was early 2000s. We already used it, naturally — I mean those of us inside Google. But when you see it in a magazine, or maybe I first heard it on television, there is just this enormous satisfaction. Also a little discomfort too, maybe. It forced me to really consider how large we’d become. Obviously I knew; it’s not like I was unaware of how many employees we now had or God! the crazy dollars we were spending on servers. But this was just another angle on that growth, a side effect that was quite pleasing. It was hard to imagine how we’d gotten all this, I mean two real geeks, had gotten all this out of a garage and a search algorithm.
KC: It seems funny, in retrospect, that none of the early search engines got “verbed” so to speak. What do you remember about your former competitors?