Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is a U.S. public corporation, initially established as a privately held corporation in 1998, which designed and currently manages the Internet Google search engine. Google’s corporate headquarters is at the “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California and employs almost 53,861 workers. Dr. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Novell, was named the Chief Executive Officer when co-founder Larry Page stepped down. Key people: Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman), Larry Page (Co-founder & CEO), Sergey Brin (Co-founder). The company’s overview web page states that “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Google began as a research project in January 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at Stanford. They developed the hypothesis that a search engine based on analysis of the relationships between Web sites would produce improved results over the basic techniques then in use. (At the time, other search engines ranked results essentially based on how many times the search term appeared on a page.) It was originally nicknamed BackRub because the system checked backlinks to estimate a site’s importance. (A small search engine called RankDex was already exploring a similar strategy.) Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant Web pages must be the most relevant pages associated with the search, Larry Page and Sergey Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally the search engine used the Stanford website with the domain google.stanford.edu (see the Internet Archive Wayback Machine search for http://google.stanford.edu). The domain google.com was registered on September 15, 1997. They formally incorporated their company, Google Inc., on September 7, 1998 at a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, California.
In March 1999, the company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto, home to a number of other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. Google received a big break in 1999 when one of the most popular search engines, AltaVista, relaunched itself as a user Web entry point, or portal. This unexpected change alienated part of AltaVista’s user base. Google quickly outgrew its University Avenue home. After outgrowing two subsequent sites, the company settled into a complex of buildings (referred to by some as “The Googleplex”) in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, in 2003.
The Google search engine attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users. They were attracted to its simple, uncluttered, clean design — a competitive advantage to attract users who did not wish to enter searches on web pages filled with visual distractions. This appearance, while imitating the early AltaVista, had behind it Google’s unique search capabilities. In 2000, Google began selling advertisements associated with the search keyword to produce enhanced search results for the user. This strategy was important for increasing advertising revenue, which is based upon the number of “hits” users make upon ads. The ads were text-based in order to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. It also only cost a very small amount per click to the websites that advertised this way. The model of selling keyword advertising was originally pioneered by Goto.com (renamed Overture, and now Yahoo! Search Marketing). While many of its dot-com rivals failed in the new Internet marketplace, Google quietly rose in stature while generating revenue.
U.S. Patent 6,285,999 describing Google’s ranking mechanism (PageRank) was granted on September 4, 2001. The patent was officially assigned to Stanford University and lists Lawrence Page as the inventor.
In February 2003, Google acquired Pyra Labs, owner of Blogger, a pioneering and leading weblog hosting Web site. Some analysts considered the acquisition inconsistent with Google’s business model. However, the acquisition secured the company’s competitive ability to use information gleaned from blog postings to improve the speed and relevance of articles contained in a companion product to the search engine, Google News.
At its peak in early 2004, Google handled upwards of 84.7 percent of all search requests on the World Wide Web through its Web site and through its partnerships with other Internet clients like Yahoo!, AOL, and CNN. In February 2004 Yahoo! dropped its partnership with Google in order to provide users at its site independent search results and to maintain their loyalty. Google lost user share of the search market. Yet Yahoo!’s move highlighted Google’s own distinctiveness and today the verb “to google” has entered a number of languages first as a slang verb and now as a standard word meaning, “to perform a web search”.
Google’s declared code of conduct is “Don’t Be Evil”, a phrase which they went so far as to include in their prospectus (aka “red herring” or “S-1″) for their IPO, noting “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.”
The Google site includes humorous features such as cartoon modifications of the Google logo to recognize special occasions and anniversaries, known as “Google Doodles”. Not only may decorative drawings be attached to the logo, but as well the font design may mimic a fictional or humorous language such as the Star Trek Klingon and Leet. The logo is notorious among web users for April Fool’s Day tie-ins and jokes about the company.
Analysts speculate that Google’s response to Yahoo! will be to continue to make technical and visual enhancements to personalized searches, using the personal data that is gathering from Orkut, Gmail, and Froogle to produce unique results based on the user. Frequently, new Google enhancements or products appear in its inventory. Products and demos Google Labs, the experimental section of Google.com help Google maximize its relationships with its users by including them in the beta development, design and testing stages of new products and enhancements of already existing ones.
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