In 1998, Sergey Brin and Larry Page dropped out of a PhD programme at Stanford University to develop the commercial potential of their Internet search engine, Google. They had no capital, and no idea how Internet search could be turned into a profitable business. Six years later, having seen off competition from the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft, they floated the company at $85 per share, raising nearly $2bn in the largest ever initial public offering of a technology company. Today, Google stock is trading at more than $350 per share. Brin and Page each have a net worth well in excess of $10bn, and the company they founded dominates the rapidly growing global market for Internet search. As an object lesson in how to translate a technical idea into cash, the Google story has few, if any, precedents: even Bill Gates had to work longer and harder for his money.