Sergey Brin, my Father

And our obsession with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs

Segah A. Mir

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Sergey Brin [or Insert your Tech Idol name here]

For most of the world, Sergey Brin’s story was elevated to myth after Google’s 2004 IPO. By 2008, the Economist had proclaimed Brin to be the “Enlightenment Man” of our era. His ascent after that was the stuff of classic Silicon Valley legend. A visionary drops out of school, spends time in a garage, and emerges enlightened.

Investors throughout the Valley lined up at his feet to offer patronage. As another Soviet émigré named Sergey at birth, I found myself awestruck when I passed by Brin as he hot-tubbed between diving sessions at Stanford’s swimming pool in 2002. So when I too dropped out of college in 2005 as Brin had done before, I imagined myself launching the next big thing.

But the burden of achieving early success in the model of Brin led to impulsive decisions and unrealistic expectations. At first, I had spent much of my waking life plotting out and developing an online textbook exchange service (source code), a secondary marketplace that never seemed to crest 10,000 users. Compared to Google, my textbook exchange was a failure.

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