Google is a Mountain View, California-based company that was officially launched in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google is a multinational technology company that focuses on online advertising, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is classified as one of the Big 5 Tech companies in the United States information technology industry alongside Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Google experienced rapid growth after its founding, allowing the company to make many acquisitions, develop products, and enter partnerships with other companies that go beyond its flagship search engine product, Google Search. The company released a line of work, productivity, and time management services known as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Calendar, accessible through Google’s cloud storage system, Google Docs. The company also produced an email solution (Gmail), language translation (Google Translate), mapping and location services (Google Maps, Waze, Google Earth, and Street View), podcast hosting (Google Podcast), video sharing (YouTube), instant messaging and video chat services (Duo, Hangouts, Chat, and Meet), blog publishing (Blogger), note-taking (Google Keep and Google Jamboard), and photo organizing and editing (Google Photos).
The company has become more focused on developing hardware and devices and has formed partnerships with major electronics manufacturers between 2010 and 2015 to produce the Nexus device line. The line included smartphones (Google Pixel), smart speakers (Google Home), wifi routers (Google WiFi), and virtual reality headsets (Google Daydream).
Google.com is the most visited website globally, and additionally, Google was the most valuable brand in the world in 2017 until Amazon surpassed it in 2018. Despite Google’s success, the company has received criticism regarding privacy concerns, tax avoidance, antitrust, censorship, and search neutrality.
Google began at Stanford University in 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The project had an unofficial third founder named Scott Hassan, who was the original programmer for the program called “BackRub,” which later became Google. Hassan left the project before its official launch in 1998 and became the founder of Willow Garage in 2006.
Page conveyed the idea of an algorithm to Hassan called PageRank. His thoughts for the algorithm were to develop a system that analyzed relationships between pages and search terms regarding relevance, where conventional search engines at the time ranked pages based on how many times the exact search terms populated on a given page. Hassan took Page’s ideas and began to code an algorithm that would implement them.
Page and Brin initially called the search engine “BackRub” because it checked backlinks to determine site result relevance. The pair cites Hassan and Alan Steremberg as crucial components to Google’s development, along with Héctor García-Molina and Jeff Ullman. In 1998, Page, Brin, Rajeev Motwani, and Terry Winograd co-authored the first published paper describing PageRank as the Google Search Engine’s initial prototype.
Eventually, the name was changed to Google, which originated from a misspelling of the word “googol,” which describes the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. Page and Brin felt this would represent and signify that the search engine intended to provide information en masse.
On September 15, 1997, the domain name www.google.com was registered, and the company was incorporated on September 4, 1998, headquartered in Susan Wojcicki’s Menlo Park garage, a friend of Page and Brin. The company hired Craig Silverstein, a fellow Ph.D. student from Stanford, as its first employee.
Initial funding for Google came from Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who invested $100,000 in the company in August of 1998, before the company’s official incorporation. Google received three other Angel investments in 1998 from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, David Cheriton, a Stanford University computer science professor, and Ram Shriram, an entrepreneur. The investments from investors, family, and friends totaled approximately $1 million, allowing Page and Brin to open Google’s original office in Menlo Park, California. After additional small investments between the end of 1998 and early 1999, a new round of funding for $25 million was announced on June 7, 1999, with participation from Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins.
In March of 1999, the company relocated its offices to Palo Alto, California, home to several Silicon Valley technology start-up companies. The following year, Google began to sell advertisements associated with search keywords, despite Page and Brin’s initial opposition to running an ad-funded search engine. To maintain uncluttered search engine results, Google offered text-based ads only. In June of 2000, Yahoo!, one of the most used websites in the early 2000s, announced Google would become its default search engine, replacing Inktomi.
In 2001, Google investors felt that Google needed strong internal management, and it agreed to hire Eric Schmidt as the Chairman and CEO.
By 2003, Google had outgrown two locations and rented an office complex from Silicon Graphics (SGI) at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway in Mountain View, California. The complex soon came to be known as the Googleplex, yet another play on the word googol. After three years in the location, Google purchased the property from SGI for $319 million. By 2006, Google had become a word used in everyday language, so it was added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and The Oxford English Dictionary.
On August 19, 2004, Google’s initial public offering (IPO) was made available, and at that time, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt made an agreement to remain at Google together until 2024, though Schmidt would later leave Google in 2011. At the time of IPO, Google offered 19,605,052 shares, starting at $85 per share. The shares were sold in an online auction format using a system engineered by Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, who were underwriters for the deal. The sale of $1.67 billion gave Google a market capitalization of more than $23 billion.
In October of 2006, Google announced that it acquired the video-sharing platform YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock; the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006. On April 13, 2007, Google reached another agreement to acquire DoubleClick, a company that developed and provided internet ad services to major companies, for $3.1 billion. This transaction transferred valuable relationships that DoubleClick had with web publishers, advertising agencies, and companies like Coca-Cola, MasterCard, and more to Google.
In 2005, The Washington Post had reported that Google had seen a 700% increase in third-quarter profit due to companies shifting their advertising strategies from print ads to internet advertising. By May 2011, the number of monthly unique visitors using Google surpassed one billion for the first time in Google’s history. Additionally, in the same year, Google was averaging approximately 3 billion searches per day. To accommodate the increasing workload, the company built 11 data centers located worldwide, each housing thousands of servers.
On August 15, 2011, Google made its largest acquisition to date when it announced that it would be acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The purchase helped Google gain the Motorola patent portfolio on wireless phones and other wireless technologies, which helped protect Google in the ongoing disputes with other mobile phone developers, primarily Apple and Microsoft. This acquisition also allowed Google to continue to freely offer Android OS.
2012 was the first year that Google was able to generate $50 billion in annual revenue, generating only $38 billion in 2011. In January of 2013, Larry Page gave a statement saying Google had ended on a strong quarter with revenues up by 36% year-over-year and 8% quarter-on-quarter. He noted that hitting $50 billion in 15 years was a considerable achievement.
In June of 2013, Google announced its acquisition of Waze for $966 million, stating that Waze would remain its own independent entity, but its social features, like its crowdsourced location platform, had valuable integrations for Google Maps, Google’s own mapping, and navigation service.
On September 19, 2013, Google announced the launch of a new company called Calico, a health and well-being company led by Apple Inc. chairman Arthur Levinson. Larry Page said in a public statement that the company would focus on “the challenge of aging and other associated diseases.”
On January 6, 2014, Google announced it would acquire DeepMind Technologies, a privately-held artificial intelligence (AI) company based in London, England. There were unsubstantiated reports that the acquisition cost $400 million. However, the claims were unable to be verified by official sources, and a Google spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the price. This acquisition played a role in Google’s growth within the AI and robotics industries.
In 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, Google was the second most valuable company, behind Apple Inc., in the world, only taking the title in 2017, before Amazon claimed it in 2018. In 2016 Google had a valuation of $133 billion.
On August 10, 2015, Google announced it would be reorganizing its various interests under a new parent company called Alphabet Inc. Google became Alphabet’s leading subsidiary and continues to be the umbrella company for Alphabet’s Internet interests. During the restructure, Sundar Pichai became the CEO of Google, replacing Larry Page, who then became the Alphabet CEO.
By October of 2016, Google operated 70 offices in more than 40 countries and remains to date as the most visited website globally. Many other Google-owned websites are also on the list of most popular websites, which include YouTube and Blogger.
On August 8, 2017, Google fired an employee by the name of James Damore after he distributed a memo throughout the company. It argued that bias and “Google’s ideological echo chamber” clouded the company’s thinking regarding diversity and inclusion and that biological factors, not discrimination alone, caused the average woman to be less inclined to technical positions than men. The Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated that Damore violated company policy by “advancing harmful gender stereotypes” in the workplace; he was fired the same day. A New York Times columnist named David Brooks argued that Pachai handled the situation improperly and publicly called for his resignation.
Between 2018 and 2019, the tension between Google’s leadership and employees was on the rise as staff members began protesting company decisions regarding internal sexual harassment, a censored Chinese search engine, and a military drone AI. On October 25, 2018, The New York Times published an article exposing Google titled “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android.” At the same time, the company announced it had fired 48 employees over the past two years for sexual misconduct. On November 1, 2018, over 20,000 Google employees and contractors staged and participated in a global walk-out to protest the company’s processes for handling sexual harassment complaints. Later, in 2019, some of those same workers accused Google of retaliation against its internal activists.
Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming platform, was announced on March 19, 2019, allowing Google a stake in the video game market.
In June of 2019, the United States Department of Justice reported that it would investigate Google for antitrust violations, which led to the filing of an antitrust lawsuit in October of 2020, on the grounds that the company had abused a monopoly position in the search engine and search advertising markets.
In April of 2020, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Google announced that it would be making several cost-cutting measures. Some of the solutions involved some hiring freezes and slowing hiring for the remainder of 2020, excluding a small number of areas within the organization. Google also stated it would be recalibrating the focus and pace of its investments in areas regarding data centers and machines. It would also be cutting down on non-business essential marketing and travel.
Google indexes billions of webpages for users to search for the information they are looking for through keywords and operators. Google is the most dominant search engine used in the United States, with a market share of 65.6% according to comScore market research in November of 2009.
In 2002, Google launched its Google News service, an automated service that summarized news articles from various websites and sources. Google Search also hosts Google Books, a service that searches the text found within books in its database and shows a limited preview of that text or the full book where it is allowed.
In May of 2017, Google deployed the “Personal” tab feature in Google Search, which allows users to search for content in their Google accounts’ various services, including email messages in Gmail and photos from Google Photos.
Google generates most of its revenue from advertising, which is noted in its annual reports. Advertising includes the sales of apps, purchases made in-app, digital content products on Google and YouTube, Android, and licensing service fees, including fees received for Google Cloud offerings. 46% of the advertising profit is made from clicks, which amounted to $109,652 million in 2017 alone. The three principal methods for obtaining clicks was through AdMob, AdSense, and DoubleClick AdExchange.
In 2006, Google reported $10.429 billion in advertising revenue and only $112 million in licensing and other income. In 2011, 96% of Google’s revenue was being generated from its various advertising programs. In addition to Google’s native algorithms for interpreting search requests, Google uses technology from DoubleClick to project user interest and target marketing from user history. In 2007, Google launched AdSense for Mobile to take advantage of the mobile advertising market.
Google Analytics is another product offered through Google’s advertising product. It allows website owners to track where and how people are using their website. It can provide an analysis of click rates for all links on any given page. Google advertisements can be placed on third-party websites, as well. Google Ads allows advertisers to display their ads anywhere in the Google content network through a cost-per-click model. Google AdSense, a similar product, allows website owners to display the advertisements on their website and earn money each time the ad is clicked.
Google offers various web-based services including Gmail for email, Google Calendar for scheduling and time-management, Google Drive for cloud storage of files, Google Maps for navigation and satellite imagery,Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for productivity, Google Keep for note-taking, YouTube for video sharing, Google Photos for photo storage and sharing, Google Translate for translation of languages, Duo for social interaction, Google My Business for management of public business information, and Stadia for cloud-based gaming.
Not all Google services are web-based or were launched as web-based services. An example of this is Google Earth, which was launched in 2005 as a client software download for computers. Users could view high-definition satellite photos from around the globe once the software is installed. However, Google Earth was eventually shifted to a cloud-based platform, no longer requiring users to download it to their computers.
Google is the developer for the Android mobile operating system and its adjacent smartwatches, televisions, cars, and Internet-of-things-enabled smart devices and their variations. The company also developed and manages the Google Chrome web browser and Chrome OS, an operating system based solely on Chrome.
In January of 2010, Google released Nexus One, the first Android phone under its brand. This release resulted in the development of a number of phones and tablets under the “Nexus” branding, but the line was discontinued in 2016 and was replaced with the brand Pixel.
In July of 2013, Google launched the Chromecast dongle that allowed users to stream content from their phones on their televisions.
In June of 2014, Google announced Google Cardboard, a fold-out cardboard viewer where a smartphone could be inserted. The Cardboard viewer could then be used to access and grow interest in virtual reality (VR).
In November of 2016, the Google Home was launched as a smart assistant that could answer voice-prompted questions, play music, find information, sync to the user’s calendar, weather apps, and more, and control third-party in-home appliances. Google Home was rebranded to Google Nest after the acquisition of Nest the companies and their product lines were integrated. The Google Nest line includes Google Nest Hub, Google Home Mini, Nest Hub Max, Nest Mini, and Google Home Max.
In May of 2019, Google unveiled the Pixel 3a at Google I/O, only seven months after the original Pixel 3 release. The phones were a midrange offering between the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL.
The Pixel 4 was announced in October of 2019 as the first Pixel phone to be offered for sale by major service providers at launch. The company also announced its second generation of Pixel Buds, Bluetooth wireless headphones, with built-in Google Assistant and Google Translate.
In November of 2019, Google released the first controller developed for Stadia.
In August of 2020, Google launched the Pixel 4a after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the annual I/O developer conference to be canceled. In September of 2020, Google launched the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 simultaneously at its live-streamed Launch Night In event. The Nest Audio and new Chromecast, and new Google TV were all announced during that same event.
Google Workspace, formerly known as G Suite until October of 2020, is a monthly subscription offering from Google for organizations and businesses to gain access to a variety of Google services, including Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Despite these services having free options, additional administrative tools, unique domain names, and 24/7 support are included when businesses pay for subscriptions.
On September 24, 2012, Google launched Google for Entrepreneurs, a not-for-profit business incubator providing co-working spaces for startups. Google called these locations Campuses, and it provided the startups with access to workshops, conferences, and mentorships. As of 2020, there were seven Campus locations located worldwide in Berlin, London, Madrid, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, and Warsaw.
On March 12, 2016, Google announced the Google Analytics 360 Suite, a set of integrated data and marketing analytics products designed for enterprise-class marketing and integrates with BigQuery on the Google Cloud. It largely competes with programs like Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, and IBM.
In February of 2010, Google announced the Google Fiber project and shared its experimental plans to build an ultra-high-speed broadband network for 50,000 to 500,000 customers in one or more United States cities. After Google restructured to Alphabet Inc., Google Fiber was moved to the Alphabet Access division.
In April of 2015, Google announced Project Fi, a mobile virtual network operator that combined WiFi and cellular networks from different providers to enable seamless connectivity and fast internet signals from anywhere. Fi is operated by the U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile networks.
In September of 2016, Google started its Google Station project for public WiFi at railway stations in India. The initiative got over 15,000 online for the first time and has 3.5 million recurring users monthly. By December of 2016, Google Station had been launched at over 100 different railway stations. In February of 2017, Google announced it intended to expand beyond railways and hoped to go citywide in Pune, India.
Google regional director Mel Silva said: "We are excited to welcome Seven West Media today as a major Australian publishing partner to join Google News Showcase.
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