How Google Started, Grew and Became a $279 Billion Company
The Google Company came about in 1998 and was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin
in order to market Google Search, the world’s most used search engine based on the web.
The American multinational company’s specialty encompasses all internet related services
such as online advertising, cloud computing, hardware, and software and is one of the world's
largest media companies with various subsidiary products such as the Google news, Google map,
Gmail, Google Chrome and Google Plus.
The Humble Beginning
Google started in 1998 as a project researched by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Page as they considered the exploration of the properties of the World Wide Web.
Larry’s supervisor, Terry Winn Grad encouraged him to pick this idea.
Larry later recalled Terry’s advice as the best advice he ever got.
He focused on the problem of finding out which Web pages linked to a given page and nicknamed
his research project “BackRub.”
Larry was later joined by Sergey who was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate
Both of them had first met in the summer of 1995 when Larry was part of the new students
that Sergey had volunteered to show around campus.
Larry and Sergey both worked on the Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP) funded by the
National Science Foundation whose goal was to develop enabling technologies for a single
integrated universal digital library.
Although Larry and Sergey disagreed on nearly everything during their first meeting, by
the following year, 1996 they struck up a partnership.
They got to work in their dormitory where Larry explored the Web with his Web crawler
starting from his Stanford home page.
They started by building a search engine to determine the importance of individual pages
on the World Wide Web using links.
They both developed an algorithm after they realized that a search engine based on page
rank would produce better results.
They both tested their thesis as part of their studies and laid the foundation of the search
engine after which they changed the search engine name from Backrub to Google.
The first version of Google was released in August 1996 on the Stanford website and in
the next few years, it caught the attention of many across the world beyond the academic
By September 1997, the domain name for Google was registered.
In 1998, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Andy Bechtolsheim wrote Larry and Sergey a
cheque of $100,000 right before Google Inc. came into existence.
Three other angel investors; Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder, David Cheriton, a Stanford University
computer science professor, and Ram Shriram also provided capital to support the budding
These investments pushed the newly incorporated team to upgrade from their dormitory to their
first office, a garage in suburban Malo Park located in California.
A clunky desktop computer, a table, and a bright blue carpet were the only things that
could be seen in their office during the early days.
The Attempt to Sell Google
In 1999, Larry and Sergey made the decision to sell Google to Excite, an internet portal
that provided a variety of content including but not limited to news, weather, and a Metasearch
engine collated from over a hundred sources for a price of $1 million.
The Excite CEO George Bell rejected the offer despite one of his venture capitalists, Vinod
Khosla talking the duo down to $750,000.
How Google Grew
By 2003, Google took another step forward and moved from the garage to the current headquarters
at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California which came to be called the Googleplex.
The building was leased from Silicon Graphics.
In February of the same year, Pyra Labs, a company that created blogger service was acquired
This acquisition gave the company the opportunity to use information from blog posting to improve
speed and relevance of articles in search engines.
In August 2004, Google went public and offered 19,605,052 shares at $85 per share.
It even sold shares using an online auction format and the resulting sale of $1.67 billion
gave the company a market capitalization of at least $23 billion.
Google expanded rapidly as it hired more engineers and built a sales team.
One of the software engineers that joined the team in 2004 was Eric Schmidt who agreed
to work at Google for 20 years until 2024 and who would go on to be an Executive Chairman
at Google in later years.
In January 2005, Google was valued at nearly $52 billion making it one of the world’s
biggest media companies by stock market value.
In a bid to motivate its engineers in 2005, Google launched a policy called Innovation
This policy urged the engineers to make use of 20% of their work time on research projects
that interested them.
Marissa Mayer, the Google Vice-President of Search Products and User Experience until
July 2012 showed in a talk at Stanford University that half of the all the new Google service
products launched toward the end of 2005 such as Gmail, Google News, Orkut, and AdSense
emerged from this policy.
In September 2005, Google announced a long-term partnership with the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) which would involve Google in the establishment of an
R&D center at NASA’s American research center for large-scale data management which would
include lab offices and housing for engineers.
Google also formed a partnership with Sun Microsystems in October 2006 to help share
and distribute each other in technologies.
Part of the partnership involved Google hiring employees to help in the open source office
As a result, Google increased in size so much that it became a competition against other
large technology companies one of which was Microsoft.
In 2006, the leased Googleplex building was finally bought from Silicon Graphics at $319
million by which time the name “Google” had become an everyday word and it was added
to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb
defined as “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.”
The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first to use the term “Google” as
a verb in 2002.
In March 2006, Google was added to the Standard and Poor's 500 Index as a replacement of Burlington
Resources, an oil company.
A day after the announcement Google’s share price rose by more than 7% and from 2007 universal
search provided all types of content in search results.
Google experimented with markets such as radio print publications.
In January 2008 Google announced its purchase of the radio advertising company, dmarc which
provided a system that allowed companies to advertise on radio.
Google’s Eyes on Video and A.I
Google bought the 18-month-old YouTube video sharing platform for $1.65B billion in 2006.
This acquisition eventually phased out Google Video.
In January 2010 Google began investing in an X lab devoted to technology such as internet-linked
glasses, self-driving cars and using high altitude balloons to provide internet service
in remote locations.
Some of these developments evolved into companies such as the Waymo self-driving car unit.
Google is now a major player in artificial intelligence with rivals including Amazon,
Apple, and Microsoft.
Google Falls in Social
The Google Plus launched in June 2011 proved to be a useful innovation as it was able to
compete with Facebook as a social networking platform but Google plus wasn’t able to
win the war as Google announced it absolute closure in 2018.
By 2015, Google underwent a corporate reorganizing that led to the creation of Alphabet Inc.
the multinational conglomerate that became the parent company of Google and many former
Larry became the new CEO while Sergey became the president.
Today, Google has over 60,000 employees across 50 countries and has become the most widely
used web-based search engine with over 3.5 billion searches per day and a net worth of
more than $279 billion.
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