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Happy 20th Birthday Google

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Google will no longer be a teenager as of September 27th, 2018. Numerous websites have incorrectly reported that Google already turned 20, because in years past Google has celebrated their birthday on September 7th. The truth of the matter is that Google will offically turn 20 on September 27th, the day Google officially celebrates their birthday.

While we are absolutely convinced that the most important years for Google are still ahead, this is a great time to examine the history of Google as it is very close to becoming the second $1 trillion valued company. Apple became the first $1 trillion publicaly traded company on August 2nd. 

Google Started as a Ph.D. Project

When Larry Page first visited Stanford as a prospective student his tour guide was the first-year student Sergey Brin. The two initially argued about everything. In fact, it was not until Larry Page's academic advisor suggested that he start collecting links from the internet that he created the first search engine of sorts as a Ph. D. project. Larry envisioned that students needed a way to cite sources from web pages, so he and Brin finally joined forces to create PageRank. Yet, the two still had problems working together because Larry was much more studious than Brin who was constantly socializing. Since the biggest data storage device at the time was 4 GB, the duo took 10 of them and assembled them in a rack built of Legos to provide the storage they needed for PageRank and BackRub.

Stanford Demands PageRank and BackRub be Moved

The earliest version of the search engine called BackRub launched in August 1996 on Stanford's computers, but it proved so useful that it overpowered their system frequently. Therefore, the university demanded that the duo move their system off their computer system.

BackRub Renamed Google

The two remained committed to their project, but they decided that BackRub was not an appropriate name, so they remained the company Google after the mathematical term googol. After starting to beg professors for money to get their project going, the duo moved their fledgling company to Susan Wojcicki garage apartment. While Susan says that she wishes that she foresaw the future of Google when she let them move into her garage apartment with their one employee, she says that the truth is that she had a mortgage to pay on her new home, and she needed the money.

Andy Bechtolsheim Invests in Google

Finally, professors at Stanford introduced the two students to Andy Bechtolsheim who invested in their company. Bechtolsheim says that he actually invested in the company so that he could solve his own problem because, in 1998, he found it very difficult to find information on the internet. He says that the check that he gave the company was the first money that Google ever received and the best business decision of his life. Google was incorporated on September 4, 1998.

Tried to Sell to AltaVista

Larry and Brin, however, were not convinced that they wanted to give up their studies at Stanford to pursue creating the company. In fact, they tried to sell their PageRank software that was used to send people to other websites for information to AltaVista for $1 million. AltaVista turned the duo down because they thought that their program which tried to provide the right answers without the user leaving their site was the correct answer.

Eric Schmidt Hired to Provide Adult Supervision

While Page and Brin were young and wanted to play, they realized that the company needed an experienced leader or as they called it "adult supervision." Therefore, they hired Eric Schmidt who first joined the board before becoming the company's CEO in March 2001 when the company was not yet four years old. When Schmidt arrived for his first day on the job, he found that he had an officemate who had moved out of the company's six-person engineering office because it was too crowded. After a heated conversation with the head of sales, Schmidt hung up the phone and his officemate Amit Singhal said he could tell Schmidt why the sales figures were not what Schmidt was expecting. Amit who had a strong background in data analytics explained the current problem to Schmidt but more importantly set into motion the company's dependence on data analytics to prove its points. In 2011, when Schmidt became the executive chairman and Paige took over day-to-day operations, Schmidt announced the move by tweeting "adult supervision no longer needed."

Yahoo's Failed Attempt to Buy Google

It seems ironic that Yahoo tried to buy Google in 2002 for $3 billion. The company refused to sell because they thought they should get at least $5 billion for the entity. While Yahoo sold to Verizon for just $4.3 billion, Google is valued at $120.9 billion in 2018.

News Agitator Service Started

In 2002, Google started one of the first news agitator services. Despite the fact that Bob Woodward accused the service of killing newspapers, the Wall Street Journal's publisher Les Hinton calling Google News a digital vampire, and Rupert Murdoch saying that Google was the biggest pirate of all time, by the time that the service was 10 years old, it regularly published information from 50,000 news sources across 72 editions and in 30 languages. For their part, Google maintains still today that they have a well-defined opt-out policy for publishers and are designed to bring people only the headlines encouraging those who want more details to click through to the publisher's site.

Launching of Gmail

No date is more important in the company's history than April 1, 2004, because that is when Google launched Gmail. While there were other email servers available like HotMail and Yahoo Mail, the company quickly caught the viewer's attention by offering 1 GB of free storage. In fact, it seemed so improbable that many thought that the company was trying to capitalize on April Fool's Day to get attention for its new program.

The program, however, was almost never invented, except that Paul Buchheit who was the company's 23rd employee was determined that he would have a working sample before his first day at the company was done for his own private use. He used the software from Google Groups to accomplish his task. When he showed other engineers his work, they thought it was a brilliant idea and wanted it for their own emails. Soon, the company realized that they had a commercially viable product because of the email's programs vastly improved ability to search emails.

Jeff Bezos Investment in Google

The fledgling company that was soon approaching a decade old still had money problems, however, as they were dependent on angel investors to help them meet their goals. One of those investors was Jeff Bezos who had founded Amazon just four years before investing in Google. One of the first things that Bezos did after founding Amazon was to buy Junglee, an Indian delivery service, that was operated by Ram Shriram who had privately been advising Google's co-founders on some business matters. Ram arranged a meeting with Bezos and he gave the duo $250,000. After Google finally went public on August 19, 2004, Bezos invested another $750,000. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Bezos would have become a millionaire even if he had never started Amazon. It is unclear, however, what Bezos did with his shares of the company.

Google AdWords Invented

Google received more than $25 million from angel investors in 1999. One of the reasons that investors were so willing to cut checks to Google was they saw an opportunity to make money through the beginning of Google's digital marketing program. The original AdWords program was beta tested in 2004 with just 350 advertisers. While AdWords would bring badly needed money into the company, it would not be the first attempt by Google to sell advertising. Their first attempt was launched earlier in 2004, and it was called Premium Sponsorships. These banner-style ads that were sold by a human salesforce on a cost-per-impression basis appeared at the top of search result pages while Google AdWord ads appeared down the right-hand side. The first Google AdWords office was opened in Tokyo, Japan, and its very first customer was eBay Australia. While Google AdWords had a wonderful run before becoming rebranded as Google Ads in June 2018.

Google Launched to Public

If you had been a smart investor, you would have bought a share of Google when it first launched on August 19, 2004. The company filed its initial public offering of 19,605,052 Class A stocks valuing them at $85. As of September 7, 2018, that stock was valued at $1,184.40. Six months after its first initial offering, the company was valued at $52 billion making it one of the largest media companies in the world by stock market value.

Google Maps Launched

In 2004, Google also purchased Where 2 Technologies owned by Lars and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen and Keyhole technology. They immediately turned a team of 50 engineers loose on the project of developing a map that was zoomable and searchable. While the company was not the first to launch a mapping program as it was beaten by Yahoo and MapQuest, it was not until Google released satellite imagery that people put away their paper maps and began relying on the internet to get its directions.

Google Purchases YouTube

On October 9, 2004, Google purchased YouTube. While many argue that the company who paid $1.6 billion for YouTube was crazy at the time, the acquisition turned out to be a great investment. Google had already invented and failed at Google Videos. Yet, they felt they needed to get their foot in the video market. As of 2018, YouTube is valued at $160 billion according to Morgan Stanley.

Google Purchases DoubleClick

Google cemented its place in digital advertising with its purchase of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in 2007. That amount was about 10 times what the company was valued at, but it gave Google a competitive edge in selling digital marketing over Microsoft who also wanted the company.

Google Develops the Chrome Browser

After battling that Google was still a small company who according to Eric Schmidt could not withstand the brutal browser wars, Brin hired engineers from Mozilla Firefox to develop Chrome. The company released it for Windows Explorer on September 3, 2008. In order to make the announcement, the company hired Scott McCloud to create a 40-page comic book about the product. In the original terms of service, Google was granted permission to use all content published using a Chrome browser. After this was pointed out by CNET, the company changed their terms of service. While the company enjoyed almost 1 percent market penetration with the browser immediately, that penetration quickly fell to 0.69 percent. Today, however, the company enjoys about a 62 percent worldwide penetration while Mozilla Firefox only has about 16 percent and Internet Explorer only about 12 percent.

Google Purchases Android

Google had quietly purchased Android in 2005 for $50 million. Some declare it the best purchase that the company ever made. It spent the next three years developing the mobile phone application before finally releasing it in 2008 on the T-Mobile G1 phone called the HTC Dream in many parts of the world.

Google's Second Decade

The first ten years were very busy for Google, but the next 10 years were almost as productive. Highlights from these 10 years include:
     ~Nexus One release on January 5, 2010
     ~Google initiated service to China in 2000. After being severely censored in January 2006 after launching its page in simplified Chinese. After first redirecting its users to their site in Hong Kong, Google gave up providing its services to China in 2010. Except for Android phone services, Google still looks for ways to operate in the country without censorship.
    ~After battling for eight years through multiple courts, Oracle seems to have beaten Google unless the United States Supreme Court intervenes as Oracle claims that their IP was violated when Google reproduced it inside their Android operating system.
   ~Google produced their first self-driving cars in 2010 before eventually spinning the development off into its own company called Waymo.
   ~After developing the Chrome operating system, Google went on to release the first Chromebook on June 15, 2011.
   ~After developing Orkut, Google Friend Connect and Google Buzz, the company released Google+ in June 2011 to try to compete in social networking.
   ~Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion on August 15, 2011. They sold it for $2.3 billion on January 29, 2014. Yet, Google’s head of mergers and acquisitions Don Harrison called the deal a success because of the patents that Google obtained through the purchase.
   ~Sergey Brin took to skydiving to introduce Google Glass. While the product was banned from many venues, it is credited with starting the computer wearable revolution.
   ~Google introduced Google Reader, their RSS/Atom feed aggregator, on October 7, 2005. After declining use, Google discontinued the product on July 1, 2013.
   ~After Ray Kurzweil was hired by Google in 2012, the company purchased DeepMind in 2014. This and other acquisitions prove that Google thinks the future is in artificial intelligence.
   ~Larry Page restructured Google as Alphabet Inc. in 2015 giving room for various elements of the former company to compete against themselves. The umbrella organization is a collection of many different companies with a revenue in 2017 of $110.86 billion and over 89,000 employees.
   ~Google launched Google Assistant on May 18, 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the company sold more than 7.6 million units, but it was still behind top competitors like Amazon's Alexa.


It is anyone's guess what the future holds for Google. We can hardly wait to see the developments that will occur before it turns 30 in 2028. With the revenue from its digital advertising through Google Ads and YouTube along with other sources of income, this company may surpass anyone's wildest expectations.

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