You know Google, I know Google and most people I know also know it. It’s an official dictionary word as well, meaning to type words into the search engine Google® in order to find information about somebody/something.
Most of us are also familiar and used to other Google products like Gmail, Youtube, Android and Drive. The company is a fiercely growing company, right? It was launched late in 1990s, not many knew about it and others underestimated it. Some people like Excite also missed great opportunities of acquiring it. It’s Google that’s probably the fastest growing company till date. As of this writing, it stands at a $350 billion valuation and holds title of 3rd most valuable brand.
But… there’s more you could know. Here are some of the most surprising and interesting facts about Google. I bet you will like them!
#1 Founders Didn’t Know HTML
Google’s initial homepage was very plain and simple, right? Was it for simplicity’s sake or for user experience? It was so simple relative to search engine’s then-rivals that first-time visitors would wait for some time and wait for things to load, when in fact, it had already loaded fully. No, it was intentionally for user experience. The simplicity of Google’s homepage was obligatory, because when the website was released to the public, the founders did not know HTML & CSS well enough!
This may come as a shock to many web developers & programmers; how can founders of world’s most powerful company not know HTML & CSS, right? And you’ll be right to be shocked.
#2 2000+ Logos (“doodles”)
Doodles are Google logos, which they represent some trending theme or season or some special event. Like if it were Pakistan Independence Day today, Google’s logo will be changed to represent and greet Pakistanis. Of course, doodles are not real Google logo changes. They just stay there for a while till the trend is over and the greeting is no longer relevant.
Their first ever Google doodle was of Burning Man, a festival which takes place in Black Rock City, Nevada. The idea of doodles was born in 1998, when the founders had visited Burning Man festival. So to indicate their being “out of office” and having fun at Burning Man, they decided to play with Google logo. Altough this first ever doodle was pretty simple. It had a stick figure drawing behind 2nd “o” in Google. Thus the idea of doodles to celebrate notable events, anniversaries, births of celebrities and significant events was born. Two years later, Google had been incorporated and they asked then-intern Dennis Hwang to design a doodle to for Bastille Day. It was so well-received that Dennis Hwang was appointed the post of Google’s chief doodler.
Thereafter time and time again, doodles started regularly appearing on Google’s homepage.
Since 2010, Google has been fiercely acquiring more than 1 company per week. Straight! In fact, some of its very popular services/products like Youtube and Android originated and evolved from companies they acquired. The largest acquisition they did till date was that of Motorola Mobility, costing the company X .
Earlier in August 2015, a reorganization of the way Google works took place. And that gave birth to Alphabet, which is the holding tech conglomerate over Google, Celtica, Nest Labs, Google X and Google Ventures, etc. As per this reorganization, even Google is now a subsidiary of Alphabet. So after this Alphabet-thing, Google won’t be the name under which they will be acquiring companies, unless companies being acquired are related to computer-tech field.
No other company is there which acquires as much as Google. Seriously, it’s shockingly amazing!
There was a time when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were willing to sell their search technology. It was 1999 and founders wanted to sell their technology, because they found it to be disturbing their academic life. Founders wanted to sell their ranking technology, so they can concentrate on their studies better.
Excite was among search engine pioneers. Google founders Larry and Sergey approached George Bell, Excite CEO to sell their technology for $1 Million. Unluckily for Excite, they declined the offer. The price was later negotiated down to $750,000. But still CEO did not seize the opportunity and let it go. Imagine where Excite would be had they acquired the technology… More interestingly, where Google founders would have been had they sold their invention and concentrated on their studies.
In 2004, Excite was acquired by Ask Jeeves, which then became Ask.com. And Google is worth $350 billion (September 2015).
#5 Google is Mispelling of Googol!
That’s right. The name “Google” was a mispelling accident. Founders had intended to name the company, Googol. Googol is mathematical term and is equivalent to 1 followed by 100 zeroes. Googol, founders believed, meaningfully represented companies official mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
#6 One of Largest Hardware Manufacturers
Google claims to be one of the largest hardware manufacturers in the market, but one who don’t sell hardware rather use them! You know, Google’s data centres are all about powerful computers which host company’s petabytes of data and what not. Not many people know this: but at Google’s annual stockholder meeting, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said that Google was “probably” one of the largest hardware makers. He said this trying to convince investors that Google had the chops to succeed with Motorola Mobility’s acquisition of $12.5 billion.
He says, “There’s a bit of a mythology that Google doesn’t know anything about hardware. We’re big in hardware. Google actually builds servers in a factory that actually probably makes us one of the largest hardware manufacturers in the world. And so we know hardware. We know about flash. We know about equipment. We know about supply chain. So we were very well-equipped from the hardware side, to be very competitive in that space.”
But Google neither sells its hardware, nor talks much about it or about its dozen data centres. Because it considers secrecy of its hardware as a competitive advantage over its rivals.
#7 Let Employees Work on Their Projects for 20% Time
To make working at Google as fun as possible, many tricks are employed. It’s not a coincidence that Google’s has been Fortune’ Company to Work for, for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, consecutively! According to the Innovation Time Out (ITO) policy, Google employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time (or one day per week) on projects that speak to the interests and passions the employee. Other 80% of time is to be spent while doing Google’s core projects.
This benefits Google in many ways; first employees tend to think differently and energetically for 20% of time, because its their “own” thing and they can do anything they like, right? Many of projects born this way later find their way into Google products like Orkut (dead now, used to be a popular social network), Google News, Gmail and AdSense. So if you’re looking to work for Google, good for you! 🙂
#8 No College Degree? Google May Want You Still!
Statistics about Google employees imply that Google doesn’t care much about grade, GPAs or degree. The company values skills and experience acquired while in college, a degree doesn’t tell much about the talent or skills of the applicants. Google head of hiring, Laszlo Bock, says people who don’t go to college and find their way around world themselves are “exceptional human beings”, he said. “And we should do everything we can do find those people” Bock said.
In fact, it has been found that GPAs and test scores are “worthless as criteria for hiring“. Surprisingly they have teams where 14% of employees didn’t go to college.
#9 Intends to Scan All Books by 2020
Larry and Sergey are two minds with a number of ambitious goals and plans. One of their impossible-sounding goals is to scan all known books, which is 130 million books online by 2020. Sounds like an impossible goal, right? Because there are also books and works, which if copied without permission will involve copyright infringement lawsuits, right? There are obstacles in the path; like progress slowed down in 2010 when a major lawsuit ended in court with a settlement of %1.2 billion.
As of March, 2012, they had uploaded over 20 million books. This project is named Google Play Books. When this is completed, which is expected to happen by 2020, Google will have uploaded 4 billion digital pages and 2 trillion words in total. No, you won’t need a specially-designed device to access these books like Kindle, instead any device, be it Mac, PC or iPad, you will have the access.
One of the overlooked features of Google homepage is “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Not many people know what it does and most have not tried it, because it doesn’t make much sense at first sight, does it? Fact is: If you type your query in Google and click I’m Feeling Lucky button, you will land directly on the first result from that query. Obviously, landing directly on a webpage will bypass search ads, making Google cost money!
As of 2007 report, this button costs $110 million annually. No reports are there for how much the button costs in 2015, but it must be pretty high. Interestingly, Google’s Instant Search which display results as you type, disallowing I’m Feeling Lucky to be clicked saves Google some money! Also searching via omnibox bypasses the button.