There’s a famous story that when Google was first getting off the ground, investors weren’t keen on having two 20-somethings running the company without supervision. Being the rambunctious youths that they were, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had no interest in bringing in an outsider to oversee Google’s operations.
So in an effort to appease them, a venture capitalist named John Doerr made Brin and Page an offer:
He would set up meetings for them with the most brilliant CEOs in Silicon Valley, so they could get a better sense of what the job entailed. “After that,” he told them, “if you think we should do a search, we will. And if you don’t want to, then I’ll make a decision about that.” Page and Brin took a Magical Mystery Tour of high tech royalty: Apple’s Steve Jobs, Intel’s Andy Grove, Intuit’s Scott Cook, Amazon .com’s Jeff Bezos, and others. Then they came back to Doerr.
“We agree with you,” they told him; they were ready to hire a CEO. But they would only consider one person: Steve Jobs.
Google would of course go on to hire Eric Schmidt as their first CEO, but Page and Brin’s connection with Jobs reveals something about both Jobs and Google’s co-founders, and the innovative spirit that connects them.
On Wednesday, each reacted to Jobs’ passing.
Page wrote the following on his Google+ page:
I am very, very sad to hear the news about Steve. He was a great man with incredible achievements and amazing brilliance. He always seemed to be able to say in very few words what you actually should have been thinking before you thought it. His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me. He was very kind to reach out to me as I became CEO of Google and spend time offering his advice and knowledge even though he was not at all well. My thoughts and Google’s are with his family and the whole Apple family.”
For as much as Jobs railed against Google over the past few years, including calling their “Don’t be Evil” mantra a load of BS, it’s heartwarming to see that Jobs was able to take a step back from the business end of things and offer Page advice, one visionary passing the torch to another.
Meanwhile, Google’s other co-founder Sergey Brin wrote the following:
From the earliest days of Google, whenever Larry and I sought inspiration for vision and leadership, we needed to look no farther than Cupertino. Steve, your passion for excellence is felt by anyone who has ever touched an Apple product (including the macbook I am writing this on right now). And I have witnessed it in person the few times we have met.
On behalf of all of us at Google and more broadly in technology, you will be missed very much. My condolences to family, friends, and colleagues at Apple.
It’s also nice to see that Google’s homepage has a link to Apple’s.