Who Owns Google? Under The Hood Of The Tech Giant, That Conquered The Web

Google is primarily owned by its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who have more than 51% voting power. Other individual shareholders comprise John Doerr (1.5%), a venture capitalist and early investor in Google, and CEO, Sundar Pichai. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has 4.2% voting power. The most prominent institutional shareholders are mutual funds BlackRock and The Vanguard Group, with 2.7% and 3.1%, respectively.

Products and ServicesGoogle offers a wide range of products and services, including the Google search engine, online advertising platforms (Google Ads), cloud computing solutions (Google Cloud), software applications (G Suite, Google Workspace), mobile operating system (Android), web browser (Google Chrome), hardware devices (Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Nest), and digital content platforms (YouTube, Google Play). Google’s services also extend to artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.Google’s product and service portfolio is diverse and extends across various industries, from search and advertising to cloud computing and hardware. The company’s offerings cater to individuals, businesses, and developers, providing solutions for everyday tasks, productivity, and entertainment. Google’s focus on AI and machine learning drives innovation and differentiation.Google search, Google Ads, Google Cloud, G Suite, Android, Google Chrome, Pixel smartphones, YouTube, AI and machine learning technologies, diverse product and service portfolio, catering to individuals, businesses, developers, innovation, differentiation.
Revenue StreamsGoogle generates the majority of its revenue through online advertising. This includes pay-per-click advertising on its search engine (Google Search) and display advertising through its network of websites and apps (Google Display Network). Google also earns income from cloud computing services, licensing of its Android operating system, app store transactions (Google Play Store), hardware sales, and subscription-based services (Google Workspace, YouTube Premium).The primary revenue source for Google is online advertising, with a significant portion coming from Google Ads. Diversified revenue streams, including cloud services, licensing, hardware, and subscriptions, reduce dependency on advertising income and contribute to financial stability. Google’s ecosystem encourages user engagement and monetization.Revenue from online advertising, Google Ads, Google Display Network, cloud computing services, Android licensing, app store transactions, hardware sales, subscription-based services, diversified revenue streams, financial stability, ecosystem monetization.
Customer SegmentsGoogle serves a broad and diverse customer base, including individual consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, large enterprises, developers, and content creators. The company tailors its products and services to meet the needs of various customer segments, offering free and paid options, as well as customized solutions for businesses and developers.Customer segments for Google span individuals, businesses, developers, and content creators, each with unique requirements. Google’s product offerings, ranging from free search services to enterprise-level cloud solutions, cater to diverse customer needs. The company’s ecosystem encourages user engagement and loyalty.Individual consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, large enterprises, developers, content creators, diverse customer segments, tailored solutions, free and paid options, ecosystem engagement, user loyalty.
Distribution ChannelsGoogle’s products and services are distributed primarily through digital channels and online platforms. These include Google’s own websites and apps, as well as third-party websites that participate in Google’s advertising and content network. Google’s hardware devices are sold through various retail and online outlets. The company also utilizes its Android operating system to reach a global user base.Distribution channels for Google are primarily digital, with products and services accessible through its websites, apps, and partner websites in the advertising and content network. Hardware devices are sold through retail and online outlets. The Android OS extends Google’s reach to a global audience.Digital channels, online platforms, Google websites, apps, third-party websites, advertising and content network, retail and online outlets, Android OS, global reach, accessibility.
Key PartnershipsGoogle collaborates with various partners to enhance its offerings and expand its market presence. This includes partnerships with advertisers and publishers who use Google Ads and the Google Display Network to reach their target audiences. Google also collaborates with hardware manufacturers for its Android devices and with content creators for YouTube and Google Play. Additionally, Google partners with developers to encourage app development for its platforms.Partnerships with advertisers and publishers are essential for Google’s advertising platforms, ensuring a wide reach and diverse content. Collaborations with hardware manufacturers and content creators enhance the quality and availability of Google’s devices and digital content. Partnerships with developers support app ecosystems.Partnerships with advertisers, publishers, hardware manufacturers, content creators, developers, wide reach, diverse content, device quality, digital content availability, app ecosystems.
Key ResourcesKey resources for Google include its search technology and algorithms, data centers and cloud infrastructure, software applications, hardware devices, online advertising platforms, intellectual property, a vast user base, a dedicated workforce, including engineers and developers, and financial resources for research, development, and expansion.Google’s resources encompass cutting-edge search technology, data centers, software applications, advertising platforms, intellectual property, a massive user base, a skilled workforce, and financial resources for innovation and growth. These resources support Google’s position as a leading technology company and foster continuous development and expansion.Search technology, data centers, software applications, advertising platforms, intellectual property, user base, skilled workforce, financial resources, innovation, growth, resources supporting a leading technology company.
Cost StructureGoogle incurs various costs related to its operations, including expenses for research and development (R&D) to enhance its search algorithms and develop new products, data center maintenance and expansion, marketing and advertising expenditures to promote its services, employee salaries and benefits for its workforce, content acquisition costs for platforms like YouTube, and administrative overhead. Data center operations represent a significant operational cost.Costs associated with Google’s operations include R&D expenses for innovation, data center maintenance and expansion costs to support its cloud and online services, marketing and advertising expenses for brand and product promotion, employee salaries and benefits, content acquisition costs, and administrative overhead. Data center operations are substantial due to the scale of Google’s online services.R&D expenses, data center maintenance and expansion, marketing and advertising expenses, employee salaries and benefits, content acquisition costs, administrative overhead, significant data center operational costs due to scale.
Competitive AdvantageGoogle’s competitive advantage stems from its powerful search engine technology, a vast database of user-generated data, an extensive network of online advertising platforms, and a wide ecosystem of products and services that encourage user engagement. The company’s continuous focus on innovation, AI, and machine learning technologies keeps it at the forefront of the tech industry. Google’s brand recognition and global presence reinforce its competitive position.Google’s strengths lie in its search engine technology, user data, advertising platforms, product ecosystem, innovation in AI and machine learning, and global brand recognition. The company’s ecosystem encourages user engagement and loyalty. Google’s commitment to continuous development and its presence across diverse tech sectors solidify its competitive position in the technology industry.Powerful search engine technology, user-generated data, extensive advertising network, product ecosystem, AI and machine learning innovation, global brand recognition, user engagement, loyalty, competitive position in the technology industry.



A quick history of Google

In a paper entitled “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” two PHDs from Stanford created an algorithm to index and rank the growing number of pages that populated the Internet.  


Back in the day, Brin and Page didn’t hide their resentment toward the advertising business model, which was the prevalent model for search.

In that paper, Google’s founders explained: “We expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.

The main issue they had with advertising was that it was biased, and it caused a lot of spam in search results.

Indeed, when they met Bill Gross, founder of GoTo, which would later become Overture, the encounter might not have been among the most cordial.

That’s because Bill Gross had figured the advertising market had massive potential, as he introduced an auction-based system for bidding businesses based on performance and clicks. 

However, this was still back when Page and Brin were two academics completing their Ph.D. at Stanford University.

The transition to becoming businessmen would take soon to arrive. Indeed, a plan B was needed as venture money was soon over. 

In addition, as Google managed to rank advertising based on relevance (for instance, by ranking higher those ads that got more clicks), advertising became a possible option. As Larry Page pointed out in the first Google letter to shareholders:

Advertising is our principal source of revenue, and the ads we provide are relevant and useful rather than intrusive and annoying.

By 2000 Google was already a key player in the search industry. However, it wasn’t yet in the safe zone financially.

Indeed, in 2000 Google made $20 million in revenues. Even though it had launched its AdWords network, which would allow it to speed up its growth, Google’s business model was still transitioning.

Some pieces of the puzzle were still missing. However, the first massive deal came into the door.

By 2002, Overture was still a valid competitor for Google, yet, it was losing ground. Overture had managed to grow thanks to a series of deals.

One of the leading deals was with – at the time – one of the most successful portals, AOL. However, in May 2002, the agreement between AOL and Overture was to expire.

It was time for a battle, which would finally allow Google to have its chance for the second stage of massive growth regarding users’ acquisitions and revenues.

Back in 2003, Google acquired Applied Semantics, which, as reported at the time on Google blog:

Applied Semantics’ products are based on its patented CIRCA technology, which understands, organizes, and extracts knowledge from websites and information repositories in a way that mimics human thought and enables more effective information retrieval. A key application of the CIRCA technology is Applied Semantics’ AdSense product that enables web publishers to understand the key themes on web pages to deliver highly relevant and targeted advertisements.

Google was primarily targeting technology from Applied Semantics called AdSense. It was the missing piece of the puzzle.

In fact, with AdSense, Google could finally offer targeted ads within the websites of partners that joined the program.

In short, Google would allow businesses to show their banners on the estate of those blogs, which had become the heart of the web in the 2000s.

It would also allow those blogs to jump from amateurs to making money via advertising. It was all tracked and based on the context of the page.

The AdSense value proposition was quite compelling.

As pointed out in a 2004 financial report, Google would “generate revenue by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising. Businesses use the AdWords program to promote their products and services with targeted advertising. Also, the thousands of third-party websites that comprise our Google Network use our Google AdSense program to deliver relevant ads that generate revenue and enhance the user experience.

AdSense would become a critical part of the business.

At that stage, Google was ready to take off.

Back in 2003, when Google had finally fine-tuned its business model, it had three primary constituencies:

Google is an attention merchant that – in 2022 – generated over $224 billion (almost 80% of revenues) from ads (Google Search, YouTube Ads, and Network sites), followed by Google Play, Pixel phones, YouTube Premium (a $29 billion segment), and Google Cloud ($26.2 billion).
  • Users: Google provided users with products and services that enabled them to find any information, quickly
  • Advertisers: Google AdWords program, the auction-based advertising program allowed businesses to deliver ads both to customers on Google sites (for instance, the search page) and through the Google Network (any blog or site part of the AdSense program)
  • Websites: Google free products, Google AdWords and Google AdSense embraced the whole web. While users get information for free and quickly. Businesses could make money by sponsoring their products on Google and via Google network. Publishers could also quickly monetize their content

Google Corporate Structure: Google’s Class A, Class B, and Class C stocks: Not all shares are born equal

When a company decides to issue equity in the form of common stocks, it can do so in several types depending on the limitations that the owners of the company want to give to voting powers.

Google’s Class B Common Stocks

In Google’s case, each Class B common stockholder is entitled to ten votes per share. Class B common stockholders have ten votes for each director nominee and ten for each proposal to be voted on.

We can define Class B stocks as common shares on steroids.

They empower those who own them to keep control of the company.

Page and Brin, Google’s founders, wanted to keep as much power in the company’s future decisions as they leveraged on Class B Common Stocks to have a higher weight on the company’s decisions.

Google’s Class A Common Stocks

Google’s Class A common stocks are entitled to vote. 

Each share of Class A common stock is entitled to one vote for each director nominee and one vote for each of the proposals to be voted on.

Google’s Class C Common Stocks

Holders of Class C capital stock have no voting power as to any items of business that will be voted on at the Annual Meeting.

Those do confer ownership in the company and the right to be paid based on dividends and the company’s stock appreciation.

This list is worth looking at, like those are the people in charge of several “corporate functions.”

Board of directors


In 2022, the Board of Directors was composed of ten directors with the following committees:


1. an Audit Committee whose primary function is to oversee accounting and financial reporting processes

2. a Leadership Development and Compensation Committee, which aims to oversee the compensation programs.

3. a Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, the main purpose is to assist the Board of Directors in identifying individuals qualified to become members of the Board of Directors

4. an Executive Committee serves as an administrative committee of the Board of Directors to act upon and facilitate the consideration by senior management and the Board of Directors of certain high-level business and strategic matters.

From time to time, the Board of Directors may also establish ad hoc committees to address particular matters.

And they get reviewed each year based on various elements.


What is the compensation for those directors?

While it might change, we can look at compensation for 2022:


What’s the compensation for Google’s executives?

As a multi-billion tech giant, Google’s compensations are very competitive and based on the following elements:

  • The base salary provides a steady income to employees.
  • Equity awards are primarily based on the performance of each. An employee will receive those awards.

In assessing the compensation part, Google took into account (at least for 2022) the following “peers companies:”

Amazon.com, HP, Oracle Corporation, Apple, Intel Corporation, Cisco Systems, International Business Machines (IBM), The Walt Disney Company, Microsoft, and a few more. 


We can break down all the compensations into base salary, bonuses, stock awards, option awards, non-equity incentives plans, and non-qualified deferred compensation earnings.

In terms of salary, both Page and Brin get a symbolic $1.

Current CEO Sundar Pichai earned $2 million in base salary in 2021.

Notice Pichai received over $270 million in stock awards in 2019.

In 2021 the total compensation was $6.3 million. 

What’s the difference between Stock awards and Option awards

Regarding stock awards, they usually can get “vested” (exercised or monetized) at a certain date.

For instance, we can see how in 2021, Sundar Pichai “vested” millions of dollars in stock awards:


Sundar Pichai vested over $79 million worth of Google’s stocks.

When it comes to option awards – as a reference below – the executive or employee that receives it will have a fixed price to buy the stock at a specified date:


For instance, you notice the so-called exercise price in this table that shows the unvested (not yet exercised) stock options held by Schmidt and Pichai by December 2017.

For instance, in 2021, Eric Schmidt can purchase 181,840 Google stocks at $306.61.

How Much Does Sundar Pichai Make

While Sundar Pichai perceived a base salary of 2 million in 2022, he made most of his money from a multi-year performance-based compensation. In 2019, Pichai received stock awards for over $276 million that can be vested over the years. In 2020-21 Pichai perceived a base salary of $2 million and additional stock awards for over $5.4 million and $3.36 million, respectively.

To understand how the CEO’s compensation structure works, Sundar Pichai potentially got over $280 million, including salary, stock awards, and other compensation. 

This structure is massively skewed toward stock awards. Indeed, in 2019, on a base salary of $2 million, Pichai got stock awards of over $276 million. 

It’s important to stress that this stock award doesn’t go directly into the pockets of Sundar Pichai. Still, it follows a vesting schedule of a few years on the condition that various performance metrics are achieved. 

How wealthy are Google’s founders? 

Thanks to an ownership structure organized around various classes of stocks, the founders of Google managed to transform Google into a public company, able to get public funding while retaining tight control over the organization

For instance, by 2023, thanks to their ownership stake in the company, both Page and Brin were multi-billionaires. 

With a slightly higher ownership stake, Larry Page’s stake in Google is worth at least $70 billion. 

Larry Page co-founded Google (now Alphabet) together with Sergey Brin. He controls the company tightly via a dual share ownership structure (made of Class A and B stocks). Alphabet is worth over a trillion dollars, valuing Larry Page’s stake in the company at around $70 billion.

Whereas Sergey Brin’s stake is worth around $66 billion.  

Sergey Brin co-founded Google (now Alphabet) together with Larry Page. He controls the company tightly via a dual share ownership structure (made of Class A and B stocks). Alphabet is worth over a trillion dollars, valuing Sergey Brin’s stake at around $66 billion.

The stake of the two of them, combined, is worth over $120 billion in 2023. 

Google’s ownership structure before its 2004 IPO


As defined in the proxy statement before Google’s IPO, percentage ownership is based on 162,550,115 shares of Class A common stock and 114,732,822 shares of Class B common stock outstanding on March 28, 2005.

At the time, just like today, Brin and Page seemed obsessed with control and ownership.

In fact, at the time, both of them held over 55.6% of the voting power.

Back then, the other individual investors with a consistent stake in the company were – at the time – CEO Erick Schmidt, venture capitalist John Doerr, venture capitalist Michael Moritz and Omid Kordestani, who at the time was in charge of Business Development and Sales and one of those who helped Google scale up (he closed the AOL deal).

Who owns Google now?

As of January 31, 2020, there were 300,047,170 shares of the registrant’s Class A common stock outstanding and 46,407,491 shares of the registrant’s Class B common stock outstanding.

The company’s control is still in the hands of the two co-founders, Page and Brin.

If we look at the individuals owning the company, we have Larr Page and Sergey Brin, which together have 51% of the voting power.

Other substantial private investors comprise John Doerr (read OKR), venture capitalist and early investor in Google, and Sundar Pichai, the current company’s CEO.

The most prominent institutional shareholders (those with more than 5% of Google’s – now called Alphabet – share) are BlackRock, Fidelity (entities affiliated with it), and the Vanguard Group.

Who are Google’s top individual investors and owners?

Larry Page

Founder of Google together with Sergey Brin, Page was the inventor of the PageRank algorithm that made Google the success we know today. Director Since 1998 Larry Page, Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet. He has been a member of the Board of Directors since its inception in September 1998.

Sergey Brin

Founder of Google together with Larry Page. Director Since 1998 Sergey Brin, President of Alphabet, has served as a member of Google Board of Directors since its inception in September 1998.

John Doerr

One of the venture capitalist being – almost – since the beginning, John Doerr was director Since 1999 and has served as a member of Google Board of Directors since May 1999. John Doerr has been a General Partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, since August 1980.

Sundar Pichai

Newly appointed CEO – in 2017 – he has served as a member of Google Board of Directors 2017. He served as Google’s Senior Vice President of Products from October 2014 to October 2015.

And as Google’s Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome, and Apps from March 2013 to October 2014. Since joining Google in April 2004, Sundar Pichai has held various positions, including Google’s Senior Vice President, Chrome and Apps; Senior Vice President, Chrome; and Vice President, Product Management.

Before joining Google, Sundar worked in engineering and product management at Applied Materials, Inc., a semiconductor company, and in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm.

Key takeaway

Over the years, while the ownership of Google has slightly changed, one thing has remained constant, control and ownership by its founders. Brin and Page still represent the major individual shareholders.

Also, as Google issued several common stocks, Brin and Page are the ones who – with their Class B common stocks – preserved their control over the company.

Even when, back in the 2000s, a “grown-up” CEO, Erick Schmidt, was brought in, Brin and Page still had more than 50% of the voting power. The company has adopted several collective decision-making systems over the years.

Yet Brin and Page remain in control of the future of the company.

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