2011 Benson Award

3 August 2011 Melbourne

Jens and Lars Rasmussen accepting the award from Google Headquarters SFOJens and Lars Rasmussen accepting the award from Google Headquarters SFO

At the 2011 iAwards gala dinner held in Melbourne on the 4th August 2011, the 2011 Benson Entrepreneur Award was given to Lars and Jens Rasmussen. The Lars brothers accepted the award via a video from Google headquarters in San Fransisco in the presence of the Governor of Victoria, His Excellency Alex Chernov and his wife Elizabeth, some 800 guests.

Mr Wayne Fitzsimmons, chair of the Pearcey Foundation, acknowledged the great contribution made by the two brothers. In presenting the Award, Mr Fitzsimmons said “Lars and Jens Rasmussen – founders of Google Maps and winners of this year’s Tony Benson Entrepreneur Award – are exceptional examples of just how well the Australian industry performs on the world stage. They literally put us on the map.”

Lars and Jens Rasmussen

Lars and Jens are founders of Google Maps and Google Wave. Their development of Google Maps resulted in Google establishing a significant research and development team in Sydney. Google Maps is now used by around 1/3 of all Google visitors and represents over 3% of all total global Google traffic making it a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Lars and Jens bootstrapped their company Where 2 Technologies, attacking a major business opportunity with highly innovative technology, sold to Google, and then continued to build out the business. They then did it all again with Google Wave. Both now live in the US, but still call Australia 'home'.

Acceptance Video

Video from SFO(MP4, 12 MB)

Good evening Australia. Thank-you so much for giving us this award. It is enormously flattering to us. We understand it is the first time that all three industry organisations have gotten together around one award which of course makes it even more of a privilege that you chose us for it. So thank-you so much for that.

Working in Australia, in Sydney, for all those years was amazing. We miss the place like crazy. We're looking to get back there at next opportunity. In fact, I'm trying to get Mark to move FaceBook to Australia. He's not quite sold on that, I'm still working hard.

Thank-you to everyone who help us make this happen. More than anyone, Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma are two Aussie mates that helped us start our mapping company in Sydney. They are they best. They were there with us from the beginning. They actually still work for Google in Australia.

It was incredible how we were able to attract literally world class talent to Sydney, enough that it actually turned into one of Google's top development offices around the world. Australian engineers are enormously talented, enormously ambitious, enormously dedicated and in fact we are still pushing for Australian technology and the Australian start-up scene. We can't share too many details yet, but we are helping out a few start-ups, either in Sydney or started by Australians and so what out for hopefully some really cool things to come out of that.

Thank-you again so much. And have a fantastic evening.