How we access information on the internet is all thanks to Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But do they still own a piece of the company they created?
In this article, we’ll explore how much of Google the founders still own today. We’ll also explore the history of their involvement with Google since its inception and how their roles have changed over the years.
Who Founded Google?
Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, who met while studying for their PhDs at Stanford University.
The two founders are credited for creating the algorithm that would become the foundation of Google’s search engine. Through their innovation and efforts, they helped push the company to success.
Once labeled “the most powerful company in the world,” Google has grown from being a search engine with more than 8.5 billion searches a day to a holding company with various business interests, such as cloud computing (Cloud), cloud storage (Google Drive), video sharing (YouTube), email (Gmail), and more.
In 2004, the company went public through an initial public offering (IPO). Offering 19,605,052 shares at $85 per share, Google had more than $23 billion market capitalization after selling $1.67 billion shares.
Page and Brin served as co-presidents of Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google until 2015, when Page and Brin stepped down from these roles and assumed the roles of CEO and President, respectively.
In 2019, Larry Page and Sergey Brin jointly announced they were stepping down from their roles and that Sundar Pichai would assume the position of CEO. While Page and Brin no longer have executive roles at Alphabet, they remain closely involved with the company. They both serve on the board of directors and, because they own a large portion of the company, they significantly influence decision-making.
Google Shares Categories
You may have noticed that as a listed company, Google has three classes of shares: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Let’s look at each one individually.
Class A Shares
Google’s Class A shares have been available since 2004 on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker “GOOGL.” These shares are known as common stock, with each share representing one vote. These shares also give shareholders ownership in the company.
Class B Shares
Class B shares are not publicly traded and are owned mainly by the founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and a few other directors. Each share represents ten votes, making them super-voting stock.
Class C Shares
Google’s Class C shares were issued in 2014, giving shareholders an ownership stake in the company. These shares have no voting rights and are traded under the ticker “GOOG.”
How Warren Buffet Played a Role in Alphabet’s Shares Categories
Before Google went public with its IPO in 2014, the owners were reluctant to share control of the company with shareholders and have decisions made that they didn’t.
When Brin and Page met Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway, they raised their concerns to him. Buffet gave excellent advice, advising them of Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A and Class B shares. Even though Buffet didn’t own as many Class B shares, which gave only 1/10,000 vote per share, he could keep control of his company by holding the majority of Class A shares, which gave him one vote per share.
Page and Brin copied the structure, resulting in the three class structure Google has today.
The Google founders were also inspired by Buffet’s “Owner’s Manual,” creating their own philosophy for Google in a letter titled, An Owner’s Manual for Google Shareholders.
How Do Google’s Class B Shares Help the Founders Stay in Control of the Company?
Collectively, Page and Brin own around 85.8% of Alphabet’s Class B shares. This represents 51.2% of Google’s outstanding common stock voting power.
What’s important to note is that Larry Page and Sergey Brin both own majority Class B shares, giving them super-voting capabilities. Each Class B share owned gives them ten votes each. This allows them to remain in control of the company without partaking in its day-to-day activities as executives.
Furthermore, the founders have the final say in appointing new directors, approving major business transactions like mergers, and preventing hostile takeovers with their voting powers.
How Much of Google Do the Founders Still Own?
Now that we understand the differences between Google’s Class shares structures, we can understand how much of Google each of the founders still owns.
How Much of Google Does Larry Page Still Own?
Page and Brin collectively own 51.2% of Google’s voting power. But how much of Google does Larry Page still own as an individual?
According to the latest Google SEC filings, Larry Page owns the most Class B stock with the most voting power, controlling 26.3% of all votes.
- Class B stock: 389 million outstanding shares
- Class C stock: 390 million outstanding shares
- Total outstanding shares: 779 million
- Percentage share: 6.1%
How Much of Google Does Sergey Brin Still Own?
If Larry Page owns the most Class B shares and voting power, then Sergey Brin comes in at a close second, with 24.9% voting power.
- Class B stock: 369 million outstanding shares
- Class C stock: 370 million outstanding shares
- Total outstanding shares: 739 million
- Percentage share: 5.7%
Although the two founders don’t have the same amount of voting power, they make important decisions together.
Who Else Has Large Voting Power?
Page and Brin aren’t the only two that own Google’s Class B Shares. Former CEO Eric Schmidt has the third-largest voting power. While he only owns 0.6% of all shares, he controls 4.2% of the votes due to super-voting shares.
CEO Sundar Pichai, Board Chairman John L. Hennessy, other board members, and executives are among the other owners who have influence over Google. There are currently 11 Alphabet board members who get re-elected each year. With the exception of founders Page and Brin, no board members or executive officers own more than 0.05% of Alphabet’s shares.
Insiders aren’t the only shareholders who have voting power. Some institutional investors also have enough stake to make their votes count. Institutions with voting power include:
- Vanguard (Alphabet’s largest shareholder): 7.07% Alphabet ownership, 3.3% voting power, $82.45 billion market value of Alphabet shares (as of March 20, 2023)
- BlackRock (Alphabet’s second-largest shareholder): 6.10% Alphabet ownership, 2.8% voting power, $71.12 billion market value of Alphabet shares (as of March 20, 2023)
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are still the majority owners of Alphabet, Inc., Google’s parent company. They own a combined 51.2% of Alphabet’s voting power. While they have stepped down from their executive roles at Google and Alphabet, they remain involved with the company through their board of directors positions. Their ownership stake gives them more influence over decision-making processes.