Titan Of Tech & Intelligence
Maxim|January - February 2022
How a visionary billionaire behind Google now envisions the future under artificial intelligence
By Keith Gordon

During the information age of the last three decades, many innovators and entrepreneurs have contributed to the creation, adoption and now near-universal usage of computers and technology in our day-to-day lives. Icons such as Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), and Steve Jobs (Apple) certainly belong in that category, alongside the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Whilst each of these names, and associated companies, have played their role in the current technological state of the world, it can be argued that Google has had the most wide-ranging global impact with the diverse slate of services, products and industries it has come to dominate. Whereas Amazon still largely sells goods (despite a recent move into cloud services), and Microsoftlargely sells software, Google is in the business of information, in the information age. And while Page and Brin are the founders of the global behemoth that Google has become, it would be wrong to ignore the outsized impact that Eric Schmidt had on the company, and therefore the world, once he became Chairman and CEO in 2001—and continues to have in the age of artificial intelligence.

Schmidt, now a billionaire many times over, was raised in Blacksburg, Virginia, where his father was an economics professor at Virginia Tech. He himself chose Princeton University for college and began as an architecture student before, seemingly prophetically, switching his studies to electrical engineering, earning his degree there in 1976. He followed this by earning both his master’s and doctorate in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.

His early career included positions with a who’s who of pioneering tech companies. A four-year stint at Xerox Corporation led to his move to the newly-founded Sun Microsystems, Inc. in 1983. He steadily climbed the hierarchical ladder at Sun, and by 1994 he was the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Beyond his role in turning Sun into a global tech giant, he was also integral in the development, and usage, of the Java programming language; a milestone development in the coding and software development fields.

By 1997, his reputation in Silicon Valley was almost peerless, and as such he was approached by Novell, Inc. that year to become its Chairman and CEO. By 2001, Schmidt was more than ready for the enormous task about to be handed to him. It was in March of that year that he was appointed chairman of the board by Google, and then months later named the company’s CEO. The company had grown to the point that founders Page and Brin needed help overseeing a rapidly expanding organization, and between his technical and business experience, Schmidt was the perfect executive to both continue their vision for the company and build the infrastructure and corporate resources needed as Google grew by leaps and bounds.

The term triumvirate dates back to the alliance created between the Roman leaders Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus and Pompey the Great, forming a partnership that combined the most powerful political, military and economic men in all of Rome. One could view the trio of Brin, Page and Schmidt as a similar power structure at the top of a globally impactful organization. Each had strengths that could amplify came next will go down in technological history; due to the speed and size of the projects they initiated, executed and presented to the world. Without hyperbole, it was a triumvirate with global power and influence that even Caesar and his colleagues likely never matched. It also cemented Schmidt as one of the most significant contributors to the rise of Google from a search engine into the diverse company it is today.

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