Search might be the cornerstone of Google, but trying to improve its search engine hasn’t been the company’s only priority over the years. It was only a matter of time until Google launched its own browser, and Chrome quickly became the world’s most popular browser. The service evolved considerably since its inception, and it’s still the dominant player in the industry. Chrome can be pretty annoying, especially when it comes to resource use and Google’s user tracking technologies, but no other browser has knocked it off of its throne.
But people might not realize that if it were up to long-time Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Google Chrome would have never seen the light of day. The story of how Google invented Chrome went viral online as a 2015 video surfaced with Schmidt telling the hilarious story.
Schmidt was the CEO of Google from 2001 through 2011. He continued as executive chairman through 2015 and then became the executive chairman of Google’s new parent, Alphabet. In 2017, he moved to the position of Technical Advisor at Alphabet, staying through 2020. Google Chrome was released for Windows in 2008. These dates are all essential for the story that follows.
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma posted on Twitter a video of Schmidt during a 2015 lecture at Stanford University. During the lecture, Schmidt recollected that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin would play tricks on him while he was the CEO of Google.
One such trick involved the creation of Chrome. Page and Brin would often come to him telling him they wanted to build an operating system and a browser. Schmidt would always turn them away, saying they’re not in the position to do that, as Microsoft would “kill” them.
“And I said there was no scenario we were going to do an operating system and a browser because Microsoft would kill us, and I don’t want to get killed,” Schmidt recounted, adding that he had been “killed” at other jobs.
Ultimately, Page and Brin hired someone to improve the performance of Firefox,” Schmidt said. “Six months later, I am called down to one office, and this person who was hired to improve the performance of Firefox has managed to invent Chrome,” the former Google CEO recalled. “Shocking!”
Schmidt asked the person how long they’ve been working on Chrome, and they said they’ve been doing it on the side. “No, you have done it full-time,” Schmidt told that engineer, asking how many people they had under them. “Oh, we have ten more people,” the Google employee informed Schmidt, confirming that Page and Brin knew about the project and encouraged it.
“I knew they were going around me,” Schmidt said. The rest is history, as they say, as Chrome is now the biggest internet browser on the planet. Check out the full video below:
— Vijay Shekhar Sharma (@vijayshekhar) May 23, 2021