We could have chosen many others, but because of the significant changes that their companies have brought to the world in recent decades, we have chosen these as the most significant entrepreneurs in the field of technology.
As a curious coincidence, something in common shared by these entrepreneurs is that they are all American men (although it is true that Sergey Brin is Soviet by birth) born in the second half of the twentieth century.
The world of technology in general or the world of telephony, computing, distribution or social networks in particular would not be the same without them.
In addition, big tech or GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) have been occupying the highest positions among the world’s companies with the largest market capitalization since the 2000s.
Although the aspects of these companies that we could look at are almost endless, we are going to focus on facts and curiosities about the origins and role of their founders.
Steve Jobs (1955-2011) founded Apple in 1976 with his teenage friend Steve Wozniak in their garage. Thanks to the success of the Apple II, Jobs even made the cover of Time magazine in 1982.
However, in 1985 he controversially left the company he had co-founded, although he would return to the Apple company 12 years later.
The succession of emblematic technological products (Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad,…) for which people have spent the night waiting in line to buy them gives us an idea of the degree of user loyalty and the success of Apple, to the point of often being the company with the highest market capitalization in the world.
Visionary or inspirational (as shown by his famous speech at Stanford in 2005), it is clear that we are dealing with one of the quintessential entrepreneurs of our generation.
Jobs passed away in 2011 having left 346 patents registered in the United States, to which we should add another hundred that Apple has been registering after his death, but based on his work.
Bill Gates (b. 1955) founded Microsoft in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen, while still a student at Harvard University. The origin of the company was to develop and market BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800, a microcomputer designed in 1974 and based on the Intel 8080 processor.
As a curiosity about its enormous memory, in Microsoft’s early days it was able to know who was in the office and who was not by knowing the license plates of each staff member’s vehicle.
Highlighting everyday products such as Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office, in addition to the acquisitions of Skype or LinkedIn in 2011 and 2016 respectively, Microsoft has once become the company with the largest market capitalization in the world, surpassing Apple.
Bill Gates is one of the richest people on the planet, with an estimated fortune in 2023 of $114 billion, although he has also boosted his philanthropic side through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Jeff Bezos (1964) founded Amazon in 1994 with a name inspired by the Amazon River, the longest river in the world, with the intention of making it the largest store in the world. Although the truth is that this nomenclature came a year later, since the original name was Cadabra.
And as with Apple, the origin is also in a garage, specifically the one at their home: it was an online bookstore with a catalog of 200,000 books where the novelty was that the copies could be purchased via e-mail, something very common nowadays, but groundbreaking three decades ago.
Given the success of the business model, at the end of the 90s they began to sell other items, such as music, movies, toys and electronics. In 2007 they launched their e-book version, Kindle.
Person of the year by ‘Time’ magazine in 1999, he is a regular on lists of the richest people in the world, having reached number one in this ranking until he was replaced by Elon Musk in 2021.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Larry Page and Sergey Brin (both born in 1973) created a before and after with the launch of Google, a name which, by the way, pays homage to the number googol, a term invented in 1920 by a child (specifically a nephew of the mathematician Edward Kasner) and which means a one followed by a hundred zeros.
And when Isaac Asimov said “we will have to suffer eternally from a number invented by a baby” he could not even imagine what Google would be and how it would get a googol of results for its searches…
But back to the topic at hand, Page and Brin met in the mid-1990s doing their PhD in computer science at Stanford University when they began dreaming of downloading the entire Web to computers.
Google was officially born on September 4, 1998, although it was not until the 27th that it launched its search engine on the Internet.
The level of Google’s success makes that for a part of the population is even synonymous with the Internet, since this search engine is the interface they see when they start typing their searches, although the number of products of this company (Alphabet since 2015) are of daily and everyday use, from Youtube to Google Maps through Gmail, serves to give us an idea of the relevance and weight of this company.
Mark Zuckerberg (1984) created Facebook when he was 20 years old and studying at Harvard University, although he dropped out of class when the social network began to grow in popularity.
As early as 2003 he launched a website known as Facemash, which brought together names and photos of students at the university and, despite being available for only a few hours, attracted 450 users and mobilized more than 20,000 photos.
This can be considered the seed of Facebook, although it is true that the beginning was not without controversy, since other students from the same university (the Winklevoss brothers and Divya Narendra) sued Zuckerberg because they considered that theFacebook was similar to the website they were working on together, HavardConnection.com. This controversy is the focus of the movie ‘The Social Network’.
Facebook’s growth began by allowing other students from outside Harvard to register, reaching the leap in 2006 when it was opened to any user, something that generated complaints from users at the time as it lost its essence.
Since then, the level of popularity of this social network is known to all, reaching almost 3,000 million users, according to DataPortal data.
In addition, in 2011 it acquired Instagram for 1 billion dollars and in 2014 it bought WhatsApp for 19 billion dollars.
At the end of 2021 the company changed its name to Meta, a corporation with products that continue to account for a large part of the hours of daily use of those of us who live permanently connected.
If we stop to think about it, regardless of whether there may be controversies or issues that we like more or less, it is impossible to imagine what our daily lives would be like in 2023 without the presence of any of these companies.