From  / NYPOST

Acquiring Google for $3 billion seems like an impossible bargain today, but back in 2001 Yahoo! boss Terry Semel shied away from doing just that deal.

Semel, the former movie mogul who runs Yahoo!, met with Google's two young founders, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, for dinner and talk turned to a possible deal between the two Internet companies.

The pair said their company, which was just getting off the ground, was worth $1 billion – but added they didn't want to sell.

Semel, who recounted the anecdote to a crowd at a breakfast event yesterday sponsored by the Newhouse School, said he was intrigued by the possibility, even though the founders confessed they didn't have much of a plan about how their company would make money.

Semel checked in with them a week or so later. They told him Google still wasn't for sale – and that the price had jumped to $3 billion.

"And I said, well you still have the same business you had two weeks ago, right? Which adds up to nothing," Semel said. "So obviously we couldn't and didn't buy the company."

Since the encounter, Google's value has soared, with the stock market currently pegging its worth at about $115 billion. Yahoo!'s market cap, meanwhile, is sputtering at $44 billion.

Brin, 32, and Page, 33, also have fared well themselves by hanging on to their company.

Boosted by the IPO of Google, Brin and Page this year are on Forbes' list of the richest people in the world, ranking No. 26 with $12.9 billion and No. 27 with $12.8 billion, respectively.

Semel didn't make the list.