For another excerpt, see Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook's Wild Early Days (Wired)
"In 1996, as the World Wide Web was taking off, Larry Page and Sergey Brin watched from the sidelines. Unlike the rest of Silicon Valley, they weren’t interested in using the Internet to buy and sell stuff, or to read and publish stories, or even to score Grateful Dead tickets. They wanted to use it, rather, to get their doctorates. The Web was the uncharted frontier of computer science, and Page and Brin were hardly interested at all in the Web’s content—what they wanted to understand was its shape.Valley of Genius book excerpt: an oral history of the early days at Google as told by its founders, early employees, advisers, and more -- Vanity Fair
As such, Google, in its capitalist incarnation, was kind of a mistake—an accidental by-product of graduate-student whimsy and curiosity and preposterous dreams. The company itself was almost literally founded at Burning Man, which is apt, because the true point of Google was always to get as far-out as possible: to build cars that drove themselves, an elevator that could reach into outer space, even someday (a day that seems to be approaching rather quickly) a true, general artificial intelligence."