A giant among giants. In just 25 years, Google has managed to grow from a small company to one of the most valuable multi-billion companies in the world.
Google’s logo and search engine home page are easily recognisable all around the world. Today, Google serves about 4.5 billion users in 160 countries and 123 languages.
But how did it all begin and where is Google headed in the future? Let’s take a look at Google’s history.
Despite what you may think, Google was not the first web-based search engine to appear on the worldwide web. The first search engine used to search for content on the Internet was Archie.
Google’s history begins in 1995, which is when Larry Page met Sergey Brin. Page was studying at Stanford and Brin was considering studying there. The two started working on an engine called BackRub in 1996.
Backrub alludes to the way that the engine’s algorithms rank pages. You guessed right, backlinks were extremely important even back then. The technology that they developed was called PageRank; it determined a website’s relevance by checking the number and importance of pages, mainly by checking for other pages that linked back to the original site.
Page and Brin operated out of their dorm rooms. They built a server network using cheap, used computers. Backrub worked on Stanford University’s servers for a bit more than a year, but as the engine grew, Page and Brin had to expand and grow.
Both Page and Brin wanted to license their search engine technology at an early stage of development. After a number of failed negotiations, they decided to keep Google and seek more finance.
On September 15th, 1997, Google.com was registered. The term Google is a play on words of ‘googol’, a mathematical term which is used to describe the number 1 followed by 100 zeros ( 1 googol = 1.0 × 10100) .
It wasn’t long before Google was noticed by investors. After a quick demo of the search engine at work in August 1997, Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim was so impressed that he wrote the pair a check for $100,000.
The problem was that the two founders couldn’t cash in as Google Inc. did not yet exist as a legal entity. They incorporated on September 4th, 1998 and they eventually raised $900,000 more. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos was one of Google’s angel investors.
Google’s first office was opened in Menlo Park, California. It was attached to the garage of a friend who sublet the place to the new corporation. It was about that time that Google hired its first employee, Craig Silverstein. He stayed with the company for more than ten years.
At the time of launch, Google.com answered about 10,000 queries every day. Google now processes more than 63,000 search queries every second, which translates to about 5.6 billion searches per day.
An Old Rival
Long before Google, Facebook, and YouTube, Yahoo was the undisputed king of the internet. Yahoo reigned supreme for more than a decade, but was sold for a mere $5 billion in 2016.
Yahoo’s history is interesting on its own, but as you may have already guessed, Google’s rise to prominence had everything to do with Yahoo’s downfall. Yahoo had a chance to acquire Google in 1998 for just $1 million. They turned down the offer. In 2002, Yahoo’s CEO Terry Semel offered Google $3 million for the company. It was Page and Brin’s time to Turn Yahoo down, reportedly holding out for 5$ billion.
Yahoo’s platform was successful at the time. Its directories were designed to answer questions and view emails. They rejected Google’s PageRank algorithm because they didn’t think it would benefit their platform in any way.
In the following years, Yahoo missed several more opportunities to acquire small companies that would go on to completely change the way we think of the internet today. Some notable examples include Facebook, YouTube, and eBay.
Google was no ordinary search engine. The company’s willingness to innovate and keep moving forward were key factors to its success. Adwords (since renamed to Ads), Google’s own pay-per-click advertising platform has been the biggest contributor to their success.
Improvements, such as the doodle series, multi-language support and the Google toolbar also played an important role in the search engine’s success.
In 2001, Google acquired Deja.com, an archive of 500 million discussions dating all the way back to 1995. In the same year, Google launched Google images and released their first annual ‘Google Zeitgeist’, a way to see what other people all over the world are searching for.
Google Adsense, which allowed businesses to connect with advertisers from all over the world, was announced in 2003. Google was growing at an incredible rate, and in 2004, moving to their new office at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, known as the ‘Googleplex.
Google launched Gmail in 2004. What was then an invite-only service now serves more than 425 million users. Google finally entered the stock market, offering the public class A shares at $85 each.
2005 was another great year for Google. Google Maps was born and Google set its eyes on the mobile market. Google Earth launched in the summer of 2005.
Google Analytics changed the way businesses track and measure their marketing impact. Even today, it’s one of the most useful free marketing tools available on the market.
2006 was the year that Google bought YouTube for a whopping $1.65 billion. Today, YouTube is estimated to be worth around 75$ billion dollars. Google and ‘googling’ were added to the Oxford English dictionary in 2006.
Street View debuted in 2007 and is now available in more than 50 countries. Android made its first appearance in 2007 and was released officially on September 23, 2008.
In 2008, Google Chrome was introduced to the world. It quickly established itself as one of the fastest and most secure browsers in the market. It’s currently the most used web browser, with a market share of 64%.
Google+ launched in 2011 and Chromecast in 2013. Google’s smart home speakers powered by Google assistant launched in 2016.
Google’s logo has changed quite a bit over the past 20+ years. The original logo was designed by Brin himself using GIMP. The logo used between 1999 and 2013 was designed by Ruth Kadar. A new, revised logo was unveiled in September 2015.
The logo is regularly modified in the form of doodles. Doodles come in all forms and shapes, celebrating all kinds of different events and anniversaries.
Goooooooooogle’s Big Numbers
- 63,000 searchers per second, 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, 5.6 billion searches per day. Wow!
- Google Search was responsible for 63.1% of queries in October 2018.
- Google Search’s desktop market share is 90.22% (95.2% on mobile).
- 15% of all searches on Google are unique.
- Google owns more than 200 companies.
- Google earned $39.1 billion in revenue for Q4 of 2018.
- 90% of all internet users see Google Display ads.
- Gmail has 1.5 billion active users in 2019. Its market share is 27%.
And there’s no sign of Google slowing down anytime soon. Unless the world turns upside down, Google will continue to dominate the search and video market for a long time to come.
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