Happy 15th Birthday to Google

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Google's 15th Birthday

Google – Are You Really 15 Already?

Believe it or not, this Friday, September 27th marks the 15th birthday of Google!  For a search engine, that’s like being a 90-year-old human.

Because it serves up the search results better than any other search engine currently available, Google has a dominant position in the marketplace.  How dominant is it really?  The numbers are staggering (according to Statcounter, a service like the Nielsen ratings, except for the web)

  • Google has 89.93% of the world’s search market, with Bing coming in second at 3.89%
  • It controls 78.32% of the US search market, with Bing taking 11.87% and Yahoo 7.96%

Astonishing, no?  But, just like every other company, there was a time where it was just another idea.  How’d Google go from an abstract concept to one of the largest corporations in the world?

Google’s Story:

  • 1996 – Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin a research project as PhD students in Stanford that attempts to create a single, universal digital library.  During the process, his supervisor, Terry Winograd encouraged him to stick to the idea of studying the number of nature backlinks to pages on the web (sound familiar?).  Page and Brin eventually came to the conclusion that using “PageRank” was a better method for ranking web pages than ranking pages based on how many times a search term appeared on each page.
  • 1997 – Google.Stanford.edu is brought into existence
  • 1998 – Google is incorporated.  Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, writes out a check to help fund Google before it even exists!
  • 2003 – Microsoft approaches Google, discussing a partnership or merger, but it never materializes.  Aren’t we all thankful that didn’t happen?
  • 2004 – Google goes public, despite some hesitation from Page and Brin who did not want to give up control of their company.
  • 2013 – Google is now worth $292.5 billion and strives to not only dominate search, but also to become an all-around technology leader.

Even Google is Capable of Disasters…

Even though it dominates search and has what is clearly an exceptional idea, Google has done many things that haven’t worked.  Check out a couple ideas that fizzled:

  • 2010 – Google Buzz – This integrated into Gmail and allowed users to share photos, links, messages, and updates.  A Harvard student actually ended up suing Google, claiming Buzz violated many privacy laws.  The idea has since been scrapped in favor of Google+.
  • 2009 – Google Wave – Wave promoted its ability to allow users to collaborate and edit work in real-time.  It never attracted a significant following and eventually went by the wayside.
  • 2005 – Google invests in AOL – Back then, Google sunk $1 billion into AOL to take control of 5% of the company.  It later sold that stake in 2009 for $283 million.

Google Still Does Search the Best

Even though not every idea Google has tried has worked, it still does search much better than any other engine.  Let’s all be thankful for that, wish Google a happy 15th, and look forward to what the company comes up with next.

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