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Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Google!

Hari Shanker looks at the record growth of one of the biggest wonders of the web world and feels that the secret of its success comes from following the motto 'Don't be evil'.

By Hari Shanker
Posted On Sep 27, 2010

Bill Gates is a ‘founder’ of Google.

As outrageous as it seems, the notion is not far from the truth.

Had Bill Gates not invested $6 million and helped construct ‘William Gates Computer Science’ at Stanford University ‘to invest in the future’, Larry Page and Sergey Brin would never have collaborated
in their third storey office at ‘Gates 360’.

Bill had no idea that the facility he helped build, so as to get the leading students of Stanford to work for ‘Microsoft’, would actually pave way to the birth of his biggest competitor - Google.

And we wouldn’t be celebrating the 12th Birthday of Google today.

Larry and Sergey - Doctoral students at the Stanford university came from entirely different backgrounds. But they connected instantly.

The duo worked towards a better search engine that delivered more efficient results, using an algorithm which is now called PageRank, for their PhD thesis.

Soon, they rolled out their first search engine, queerly named
‘Backrub’ (since it analysed backlinks to provide better search results).

The search engine, hosted on the Stanford network, grew exponentially in size. Brin and Page decided to have a name
as big as the search engine, quite literally.

Thus was born ‘Google’ - a play on ‘googol’ - a number that
had one followed by a hundred zeroes.

Brin and Larry immediately registered the domain name - ‘’ on 15th September, 1998. And, the company
was incorporated this day, 12 years ago.

From then on, the company registered record growth.

Google received accolades for its path-breaking search technology. It was soon listed by the PC Magazine as the ‘search engine of choice’ in its top 100 websites of 1998. The big bucks and success came soon after.

Google started its Palo Alto office in 1999 and received funding from leading venture capitalists. Even search engine giant Yahoo signed up for Google’s search technology.

Meanwhile, Google launched ‘Adwords’ - targeted online advertisements for consumers. It proved to be a successful
revenue model - attributing for 95% of Google’s revenues even now.

‘Google Image Search’, ‘Google News’ and ‘Froogle’ (now Google Checkout) were launched in the following years to roaring success. Not many know that the man behind Google News is an Indian - Chennai-born Krishna Bharat.

Google launched its blogging service - ‘Blogger’, in 2003, after acquiring it from Pyra Labs. ‘Google Adsense’, launched in the same year, helped publishers get a share of Google’s huge ad revenue pie.

The 2004 IPO (Initial Public Offering) was a huge milestone for the company.

GMail - Google’s email service and Orkut - the social network, came into existence soon after. ‘Google Maps’ and ‘Google Talk’ - the chatting service, were born soon. ‘YouTube’ - the video sharing service that has taken the world by storm, became a part of Google in 2006.

2007 saw Google announcing its mobile operating system - Google Android, which now runs on many smartphones.

The company launched its own web browser - Google Chrome, in 2008. Along with the browser came the Operating System - ‘Chrome OS’ is a cloud-based operating system which is in the pipeline.

Google even launched its own phone - ‘Google Nexus One’, in association with HTC Corporation. It has now taken search to
the next level with its latest offering - ‘Google Instant’.

Today, the company has 20,000 employees and a presence in all major countries of the world. With annual revenues of over $235 billion a year, it is one of the top corporate entities in the world.

Phenomenal, for a company just 12 years old. Beating even established giants like Microsoft, the company has indeed
conquered dizzying heights. ‘Alexa’ - a company that ranks
websites as per their popularity has Google at the top of its list.

“Don’t be evil” - Google’s motto is quite simple.

Perhaps, the secret of Google’s success is that it follows this motto religiously. Google believes in keeping its services free, even while launching revolutionary products.

GMail - Google’s email service created quite a wave with its 1 GB space. This was at a time when no email service provider offered more than 6 MB of storage. Competitors immediately took note, and today, almost every email service provider offers huge mail boxes.

Google is touted to have one of the best work environments. It walks the talk, even at its workplace, thanks to which, Google
has some of the best minds in the world working for it.

The company has always been a people centric organisation, always striving to bring out the best - a fact evident by widespread positive reviews of almost all its products.

‘Googlers’ even have a wacky sense of humor - evident by its famous ‘April Fool Hoaxes’.

Every year, since 2000, Google has released innovative ‘products’ every 1st of April. Some of these include ‘Google TiSP’ - a ‘Toilet Internet Service Provider’ and ‘Google Gulp’ - a fictitious drink that ‘increases the drinker’s intelligence’.

Google periodically substitutes the logo in its homepage with innovative ‘Doodles’ - which included a full fledged PacMan game
to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the game. Google has in fact released a doodle celebrating its 12th anniversary.

Not many are aware of the existence of Google’s philanthropic arm, which specialises in technology-based philanthropy. makes use of Google’s expertise in information and technology to develop products that address global challenges.

Some of them include the ‘Google PowerMeter’ - a free energy monitoring tool, ‘Google Earth Engine’ - a service that helps
monitor the planet and ‘Google CrisisResponse’ - which monitors how effectively a crisis or a calamity has been responded to.

Google also invests in environment-friendly technologies like
Hybrid Cars.

Nevertheless, Google has had its share of failures - namely, ‘Google Catalogs’ (a product listing service), ‘Google Answers’ (a question-answer based system), ‘Jaiku’ (a competitor to twitter) among many others that failed to take off.

‘Google Wave’, an online collaboration tool that drew a lot of attention of late, was one among its biggest debacles. The recent ‘google blackout’ in China also hit Google hard.

Besides, there have been many debates about privacy issues posed by Google. Being one of the biggest web service providers in the world, Google has access to billions of terabytes of user-generated data -- many of them sensitive.

Some critics even put forth arguments that Google could literally dominate the world with all the data at hand. Others accuse Google of ‘dumbing down’ today’s generation.

Taking into account all its criticisms and flaws, fact remains that Google has actually changed our lives forever. For the time being, let’s keep all these brickbats and accusations at bay.

Let’s respect the spirit of Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt
(The CEO of Google) and the 20,000-odd Googlers who strive to bring a smile to our faces, ‘without being evil’...

Happy Birthday, Google!

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