GOOG and LSE: GGEA) is an American public corporation, first incorporated as a privately held corporation in September, 1998, that designs and manages a popular Internet search engine. With a market cap of 117.16 billion as of early 2006, Google is the largest Internet search company in the world. The company employs approximately 6,800 employees and is based in Mountain View, California. Eric Schmidt, formerly chief executive officer of Novell, was named Google's CEO when co-founder Larry Page stepped down.
The name "Google" is a play on the word "googol," which refers to the number represented by 1 followed by one hundred zeros. "Googling" is using the popular search engine Google.com to look up a term, phrase or name in an effort to find out more information on these words. With the increase of business in China, Google announced its Chinese name ?? (pinyin: gu( ge-), which literally means "Song of the Crop" with ? (gu() standing for 'Crop' and ? (ge-) for 'Song' on April 12, 2006.
Google's services are run on several server farms, each consisting of many thousand low-cost commodity computers running stripped-down versions of Linux. While the company does not provide detailed information about its hardware, it was estimated in 2005 that they were using over 100,000 Linux machines
Main article: History of Google
Google began as a research project in January, 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at Stanford. They hypothesized that a search engine that analyzed the relationships between websites would produce better results than existing techniques (existing search engines at the time essentially ranked results according to 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, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally the search engine used the Stanford University website with the domain google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on September 15, 1997, and the company was incorporated as 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 several other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. After quickly outgrowing two other sites, the company settled into their current home in a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, in 2003. Silicon Graphics leased these buildings to Google.
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. Keywords were sold based on a combination of price bid and clickthroughs, with bidding starting at $.05 per click. This model of selling keyword advertising was originally pioneered by Goto.com (later renamed Overture, then 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.
With Google's gargantuan size comes more competition from large mainstream technology companies. One such example is the rivalry between Microsoft and Google. Microsoft has been touting its MSN Search engine, and more recently its Windows Live search in February, 2006, to counter Google's competitive position. Furthermore, the two companies are increasingly offering overlapping services, such as webmail (Gmail vs. Hotmail), search (both online and local desktop searching), and other applications (for example, Microsoft's Windows Live Local competes with Google Local).
Click fraud has also become a growing problem for Google's business strategy. Google's CFO George Reyes said in a December 2004 investor conference that "something has to be done about this really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model." Some have suggested that Google is not doing enough to combat click fraud. Jessie Stricchiola, president of Alchemist Media, called Google, "the most stubborn and the least willing to cooperate with advertisers," when it comes to click fraud.
While the company's primary market is in the web content arena, Google has also recently begun to experiment with other markets, such as radio and print publications. On January 17, 2006, Google announced that it had purchased the radio advertising company dMarc, which provides an automated system that allows companies to advertise on the radio. This will allow Google to combine two niche advertising media -- the Internet and radio -- with Google's ability to laser-focus on the tastes of consumers. Google has also begun an experiment in selling advertisements from its advertisers in offline newspapers and magazines, with select advertisements in the Chicago Sun-Times. They have been filling unsold space in the newspaper that would have normally been used for in-house advertisements. The company has also created other engines, such as Google Earth and Froogle.
Google was added to the Standard & Poor's 500 index (S&P 500) on March 31, 2006. Google replaced Burlington Resources, a major oil producer based in Houston which was acquired by ConocoPhillips.
On a socialogical note, the growth of Google has made an impact on urban language, with phrases such as "Google it" becoming general references to searching for information on the internet.
See also: Recent criticisms and controversies
Products and services
Main article: List of Google services and tools
Google's core business is to provide a free internet search engine with advertisements placed along side and above the "natural" search listings. As of 2005, Google's AdWords advertising program generated nearly all of Google's income. Google also distributes ads to search partner companies, and a large number of content network web sites participating in the Google AdSense program.
dodgeball.com is a new social networking site built specifically for mobile phones, purchased by Google in 2005.
Froogle is Google's shopping search engine that is geared towards searching online shopping websites for products based on price. Google Groups is a service that lets users search the complete archive of Usenet newsgroups, as well as hosting mailing lists and other discussion groups. In early 2006, the company also launched Google Video, which not only allows users to search and view freely available videos, but also offers various media publishers to offer their content for a fee, including television shows on CBS, NBA basketball games, and music videos. Videos offered via this service are protected using Google's own Digital rights management system.
Google Maps, also known as Google Local, provides road maps for the United States, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and Japan. Medium-resolution satellite images are also available for the entire globe, and sister projects Google Moon and Google Mars provide satellite imagery of the Moon and Mars, respectively.
In 2004, Google and Keyhole provided Google Earth, a downloadable program that allows the user to zoom into nearly any spot on the earth, close enough to make out cars, and in some cases, people. The technology comes with hundreds of add-ons, like "Crime rate", to see the crime rate of the city you are zoomed in on, or "3D buildings", to create 3D models of the towers and buildings of larger cities. There are three available versions, "free edition", "plus", and "pro". Pro, having the most features and advantages.
In 2004, Google launched its own free web-based email service, known as Gmail. Gmail features improved spam filtering technology, combined with the capability to use Google search technology on individual email messages. Gmail shook up the free, web-based email market by initially offering 1 GB of email storage, prompting competitors Yahoo! and Hotmail to increase their storage quotas considerably. Google has since expanded Gmail's mail quota (and continues to expand it); as of May, 2006, the quota was over 2.7 GB. The service generates revenue by displaying advertisements from the AdWords service that are tailored to the content of the email messages displayed on screen. This feature has proven controversial, with some privacy advocates expressing concern that the company was reading individual emails. Google maintains, however, that the process is fully automated and that no humans read the content of users' messages.
Google also branched into the instant messaging arena in August of 2005 by introducing Google Talk, a Jabber-based instant messaging service. Since February, 2006, Google Talk has been integrated with Gmail, allowing users to send instant messages directly from their email service, as well as to save and archive messages.
Google Desktop is a service that brings the search engine to the local computer desktop, allowing one to search individual files, folders, and emails that reside locally on one's own PC.
March 2006 saw the dawn of Google Page Creator, an easy to use, WYSIWYG webpage creator. The domains are currently limited only to individuals with a Gmail account, the users individual pages reside at http://username.googlepages.com
In April 2006, Google launched Google Calendar, a shared calendar application.
In May 2006, Google introduced Google SketchUp, which is a program that allows users to make buildings to put in Google Earth.
On May 10, 2006, on the second annual Google Press Day, Google announced four new products: Google Co-op, Google Desktop 4 (an updated version of Google Desktop), Google Notebook, and Google Trends.
Originally, typical salaries at Google were considered to be quite low by industry standards. For example, some system administrators earned no more than $33,000 — while $40,000 at that time was considered to be low for the Bay Area job market. Nevertheless, Google's excellent stock performance following the IPO has enabled these early employees to be competitively compensated by participation in the corporation's remarkable equity growth. In 2005, Google has implemented other employee incentives such as the Google Founders' Award, in addition to offering higher salaries to new employees. Google's workplace amenities, culture, global popularity, and strong brand recognition have also attracted potential applicants.
After the company's IPO in August 2004, it was reported that Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as CEO Eric Schmidt, have accepted a base salary of $1.00. They have all declined recent offers of bonuses and increases in compensation by Google's board of directors. In a 2006 report of the world's richest people, Forbes reported that Sergey Brin was #26 with a net worth of $12.9 Billion, and Larry Page was #27 with a net worth of $12.8 Billion.
A license plate seen in the Googleplex parking lot
A license plate seen in the Googleplex parking lot
Google is particularly known for its relaxed corporate culture, reminiscent of the Dot-com boom. Google's corporate philosophy is based on many casual principles including, "You can make money without doing evil" (The sincerity of this so-called corporate philosophy has been arguably marred by Google's participation in China's internet censorship program, more commonly known as the Great Firewall of China), "You can be serious without a suit" and, "Work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun." A complete list of corporate fundamentals is available on Google's website. The company encourages equality within corporate levels. Twice a week there is a roller hockey game in the company parking lot. Google's relaxed corporate culture can also be seen externally through their holiday variations of the Google logo.
"Twenty percent" time
All Google engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time on projects that interest them. The time can be allocated to one day a week, or pooled into a month. Some of Google's newer services, such as Gmail, Google News and orkut, are said to have originated from these independent endeavors.
Welcome to the Googleplex
Welcome to the Googleplex
Main article: Googleplex
As a further play on Google's name, its headquarters, located in California, are referred to as "the Googleplex" — a googolplex being 1 followed by a googol of zeros, and the HQ being a complex of buildings (cf. multiplex, cineplex, etc). The lobby is decorated with a piano, lava lamps, and a real-time projection of current search queries. The hallways are full of exercise balls and bicycles. Each employee has access to the corporate recreation center. Recreational amenities are scattered throughout the campus, and include a workout room with weights and rowing machines, locker rooms, washers and dryers, a massage room, assorted video games, Foosball, a baby grand piano, a pool table, and ping pong. In addition to the rec room, there are snack rooms stocked with various cereals, gummy bears, toffee, licorice, cashews, yogurt, carrots, fresh fruit, and dozens of different drinks including fresh juice, soda, and make your own cappuccino.
April Fool's Day jokes
Main article: Google's hoaxes
Google has a tradition of creating April Fool's Day jokes such as Google MentalPlex, which featured the use of mental power to search the web. In 2002, they claimed that pigeons were the secret behind their growing search engine. In 2004, it featured Google Lunar, which featured jobs on the moon, and in 2005, a fictitious brain-boosting drink, termed Google Gulp, was announced. In 2006, they came up with Google Romance. One can find other pranks hidden between Google's pages. Additionally, in the languages list one can find the Bork! Bork! Bork! version, imitating the Muppet Show's Swedish Chef. They also offer versions in Pig Latin, Elmer Fudd, and Klingon. Some people thought the announcement of Gmail in 2004 around April Fool's Day (as well as the doubling of Gmail's storage space to two gigabytes in 2005) was a joke. In 2005, featured on the Gmail homepage, was a comedic graph depicting Google's goal of "infinity plus one" GB of storage.
IPO and culture
Many people speculated that Google's IPO would inevitably lead to changes in the company's culture, because of shareholder pressure for employee benefit reductions and short-term advances, or because a large number of the company's employees would suddenly become millionaires on paper. In a report given to potential investors, co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page promised that the IPO would not change the company's culture. Later Mr. Page said, "We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements."
As Google grows, many analysts are finding that the company is becoming more "corporate". In 2005, articles in The New York Times and other sources began suggesting that Google had lost its anti-corporate, Don't Be Evil philosophy.
On September 28, 2005, Google announced a long-term research partnership with NASA which would involve Google building a 1-million square foot R&D center at NASA's Ames Research Center. NASA and Google are planning to work together on a variety of areas, including large-scale data management, massively distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, and encouragement of the entrepreneurial space industry. The new building would also include labs, offices, and housing for Google engineers.
Time Warner's AOL unit and Google unveiled an expanded partnership on December 21, 2005, including an enhanced global advertising partnership and a $1 Billion investment by Google for a 5% stake in AOL. As part of the collaboration, Google plans to work with AOL on video search and offer AOL's premium-video service within Google Video. This will allow users of Google Video to search for AOL's premium-video services. Display advertising throughout the Google network will also increase.
Additionally, Google has also recently formed a partnership with Sun Microsystems to help share and distribute each other's technologies. As part of the partnership Google will hire employees to help in the open source office program OpenOffice.org.
Google also is involved in collaborative development efforts with the Mozilla Foundation, based on a recent job posting. Google is looking for software engineers to join them in collaborative development on the Firefox browser. They also offer a download of Firefox with the Google Toolbar pre-installed.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google