The company's founder and CEO who will lead Alphabet, a new holding company of which the search giant is a subsidiary, followed his own Googliness to being one of the richest men in the world. He did so by pursuing business in a way that's different than many of his fellow billionaires. "You can make money without doing evil" has always been a core Google principle and it's a mantra that Page has shown his employees to be not only possible but perhaps even more lucrative.
It's not so much a business plan as a version of Karma -- the idea that the actions you put out impact the ones you get back. Page, for all of his Googliness, clearly has put some good stuff out there because a lot of good has come back at him. Not being evil is a broad idea that has informed the search brand's decisions. It led to things like not taking pop-up ads, not misleading people, and always marking paid ads accordingly. It's a path that leaves money on the table in the short-run, but builds a trustworthy company and user loyalty in the big picture.
Not being evil and running a company that has evolved beyond its core search product to hardware, the Android operating system, the Chrome browser, and so much more has made Page worth $34.5 billion as of August 20, 2015, according to Forbes.
How did Page make his money?
Page co-founded Google in 1998 along with fellow Stanford Ph.D. student Sergey Brin. He led the company as CEO until 2001, then stepped into a role as head of its products until putting himself back in the top chair in 2011. He ceded the CEO job recently bumping himself upstairs to the same title at Alphabet.
Page made the vast majority of his fortune through his ownership interest in Google. He took a modest salary in the early days of the company, but has received only $1 a year in annual compensation since then.
What does Page spend his money on?
While Page has not pledged to lease his fortune to charity as some of his fellow billionaires have, he does have a charitable foundation. The Carl Victor Page Memorial Fund, named after his father, has half a billion in assets from its founder, but how much it actually gives out has been a point of contention.
"The foundation seems to give only to donor-advised funds that can sit on the money indefinitely, which makes following his philanthropy a bit like a shell game, leaving the viewer scratching his or her head and wondering where the ball is hidden," wrote Inside Philanthropy which called him one of the six "least generous technology leaders."
That's kind of a harsh opinion when you consider that under Page, Google has spent considerable resources on projects designed to improve the world not the company's bottom line. The wealthy CEO has also made comments about donating his fortune in a less-traditional way. In an interview with Charlie Rose at the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, Page suggested he might give his money to Elon Musk because he is changing the future.
"He wants to go to Mars. That's a worthy goal," Page said, "We have a lot of employees at Google who've become pretty wealthy. You're working because you want to change the world and make it better; if the company you work for is worthy of your time, why not your money as well? We just don't think about that. I'd like for us to help out more than we are."
That's a noble goal and while he has not actually given his fortune to Musk it's hard to say that Page has not worked to make the world better.
Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He is pretty sure cruise control is close enough to a driverless car for him. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.