The Google Story

Jun 16, 2006

Jayeshbhai recently gave me 'The Google Story' book; although the Google Guys are in the commerical context, they are trying to "change the world". Below are some intriguing factoids about Google.

  • Google is pushing bounds. Outside of searching billions of web documents, 1.2 billion images, taxis, stock quotes, and weather maps, they're also showing surface of earth and the moon, compiling a genetic and biological database using the vast power of its search engines so you can "Google your Genes"; scanning millions of books without traditional regard for copyright laws; tracing online searches to individual Internet users and storing them indefinitely; demanding cell phone numbers in exchange for Gmail accounts as it begins to build the first global cell phone directory; saving Gmails forever on its own servers; GoogleNet's anticipated free wireless access promises to disrupt the existing cable and media companies.
  • New employees at Google are Nooglers, anyone else is a Googler. Correct spelling for Google is actually "Googol" but Google is now a dictionary word and has moved from being a noun to a verb! The playful decorations of their logo are "Google Doodles." Each Googler's Gmail quota is one Terabyte. :)
  • Charlie was employee number 56, chef at Google. He was so loved that the cafeteria was named 'Charlie's Place'. All employees get three free, organic meals on campus. Lunch menu isn't announced till 10 minutes before noon. For their post-IPO party, they celebrated with Ben and Jerry's ice-cream for everyone!
  • Googleplex has free on-site medical and dental care, haircuts, washer and dryers, and daily charter buses from SF to Silicon Valley that run on bio-diesel. Of course, volleyballs, foosballs, puzzles, games, rollerblading, colorful kitchens stocks with free natural juices and organic snacks, bowls of M&M's, lava lamps, vibrating massage chairs. As if that's not enough, free masseuse, extravagant touch-pad controlled toilets with six levels of heat for the seat, culture to encourage Googlers to bring their dogs to work.
  • Larry Page's brother was the founder of eGroups, which was bought by Yahoo. Their Dad was a Grateful Dead fan. Larry and Sergey celebrated their IPO by going to 'Burning Man' festival that they are regulars at.
  • Google gives 20% time to employees for "personal" projects. That's not really innovative, though; colleges do that with professors. And really any Silicon Valley engineer can tell you what 20% free time means in face of deadlines, release dates, and customer escalations. But what's interesting is that Google makes room for innovation to come from the bottom up. Google News, Orkut, Froogle, Gmail are some of the many examples. They also have a "Founders' Award", multimillion stock awards presented regularly to small teams that develop the best new ideas. Things like that keep brilliant innovators within the Googleplex.
  • In August 2005, Google said it'll sell 14,159,265 additional shares. Those were the first eight digits after the decimal point in pi. :) A year earlier, they raised $2,718,261,828 in the IPO -- a mathematical figure known as "e".
  • Despite being a billionaire at 31, Larry's mother wants him to return to Stanford to complete his PhD thesis.
  • Google, in its very early days, was a project named 'BackRub'. :)
  • Google went out to raise money primarily because they ran out of money to buy computers. Andy Bechtolsheim gave a $100,000 on a hand-shake and Larry and Sergey headed to Fry's Electronics to buy some cheap computer parts. :)
  • Despite being VC funded, Larry and Sergey never gave up control. Their first big money was $25 million, $12.5 million from Kliener Perkins and another $12.5 Sequoi Capital (probably first time that top two VC firms invest in the same company) and the "Google Kids" kept full control. They asked 'em to hire a CEO and it took 'em 16 months before they ok'd Eric Schmidt.
  • During IPO time, they again broke all kind of rules. SEC told them to delete comments like "a great service to the world", "to do things that matter", "greater positive impact in the world", "don't be evil", "making the world a better place". They also openly wrote that 1% of their company will go to their foundation, and that they will sacrifice short-term profit for long-term strategies, and when SEC said, "please refer to the persons by their full names or by their last names", Larry and Sergey refused and keep their first names. Their IPO was auctioned, so instead of Wall Streeters deciding who get the share (they generally keep 7%, $140 million in this case), it would be a populist method of distributing the shares. And of course, during "quiet period", Playboy ran an interview with them (they then included that article as an appendix to the SEC filing).
  • Google.org, the foundation that Larry and Sergey hope will "eclipse the work of Google.com", is now valued at $1.2 billion dollars.
  • Google makes all its money from advertising (largely) text-ads. Their success has been attributed to its AdSense programs; when they announced the program that would share its profit from each click to the originator of that click, Sergey said, "It was our way of saying thank you." At that time, no one knew it would bring Google billions or that individuals like Jason Calacanis could make a million bucks off it.
  • Gmail was launched on April 1st. With their 1 Gig of storage per email, compared to 4 megs by Yahoo and 2 megs by Hotmail at the time. Like everything else, they spent zero dollars on marketing the product.
  • Friends say that Google Guys didn.t do anything for the money. Big time VC's say that Google Guys always try to "do the right thing" (ethically speaking). Google has very rarely advertised any of its products or services; loyal users and word of mouth have carried them all the way. Now, to announce anything, all they do it post it on their spartan homepage.
  • CEO of AOL, Jon Miller says, "Google is not anti-anybody. Most companies need a business enemy, and that is how they motivate themselves. Brin and Page, on the other hand, "are motivated by their mission. Clearly, they think differently and are driven by their vision and business goals."
  • When appointing titles, Larry and Sergey flipped a coin to see who would be CEO and who would be President. They still share the same office. :)
  • Sergey Brin says Google, at the age of seven, just finished first grade. :)
  • Valued at $110 billion, more than the combined value of Disney, Ford, General Motors, Amazon.com and the media companies that own the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
  • At the end of the day, Google still knows a lot more about you than you know about Google. :)


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