In the realm of hitting the jackpot, being in the right place at the right time and taking part in gambling can be life-changing. One of his people who embodies this coincidence is Stanford University professor David Cheriton.
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His name may not come across to most people, but Cheriton is one of the luckiest and richest educators of all time. How did a college professor make $10 billion?
It dates back to a fateful moment in 1998 when he wrote a check to two students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to start a visionary enterprise. result? That modest guy was born from $100,000 in seed money to Google Inc., now Alphabet Inc. This one act of his changed the life of a university professor and computer scientist in a monumental way.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29, 1951, Cheriton studied in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, before beginning his academic journey at the University of Alberta. Initially he intended to double major in music and mathematics, but his refusal of admission to his music program took an unexpected turn. Yet he switched his mind and in 1973 he graduated from Columbia University with a degree in mathematics.
He focused on intellectual pursuits and pursued master’s and doctoral degrees. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo. It was during his tenure as a professor at Stanford University that his fortunes met with an interesting opportunity.
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While at Stanford University, Cheriton led a team of computer scientists working on the V operating system. The V operating system is a microkernel operating system that eventually became the basis for the Internet Protocol (IP) multicast standard and a valuable tool for graphical user interface research. Born out of Cheritons’ previous developments Thoth and Verex, this operating system found its greatest utility in research-oriented contexts. During his tenure at Stanford University, he delved into operating systems and continued to experiment with network communications.
In 1996, Cheriton and electrical engineer Andy Bechtolsheim, Ph.D., Stanford University, alumnus, already successful at Sun Microsystems Inc., co-founded Granite Systems. The network exchange company caught the attention of industry giant Cisco Systems, which bought it for $220 million.
In 1998, when Sheriton, Bechtrusheim, Brin and Page met on Sheriton’s front porch, Brin and Page announced a bold project of their own initiative called Google.
Impressed by their vision, Bechtrusheim immediately wrote a check for $100,000. Inspired by the students’ ambitions, Sheriton decided to pay for the investment and wrote himself his $100,000 check. Empowered by this initial $200,000 injection of his, Brin and Page set out to develop the name that would eventually become the wildly successful Google, which also turned into a verb.
Cheriton’s philosophy revolves around thinking big and making a meaningful impact on the world. A plaque on his desk bears the inscription of Dr. David R. Cheriton, lead director of Saying What Matters. He avoids following temporary market trends such as social networking, and instead remains focused on pursuing breakthroughs that tangibly improve human life. For example, he credits Google for helping college students complete their research papers early in the morning.
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For those who don’t have the connections or connections to invest in the next Google, a change in federal law allows anyone to invest in startups. Platforms like StartEngine have emerged to allow ordinary investors to participate in startup funding, including investing in his StartEngine itself. StartEngine provides an opportunity for public investors to back promising startups and share in the profits if they eventually go public or are acquired.
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This article was originally published by the professor who cut Google’s first startup check for $10 billion.
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