Search

The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary

 
     
 

Encyclopedia

Dictionary

Quotes

 

Google

For the search engine produced by Google Inc., see the article on Google (search engine).

Google, Inc. , is a U.S.-based corporation, established in 1998, that manages the Google search engine. Google is headquartered at the "Googleplex" in Mountain View, California, and employs over 3,000 workers. Dr. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Novell, took over as Google's CEO when co-founder Larry Page stepped down.

Contents

History

Beginnings

Google began as a research project in early 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. candidates at Stanford who developed the hypothesis that a search engine based on analysis of the relationships between Web sites would produce better results than the basic techniques then in use. It was originally nicknamed BackRub because the system checked backlinks to estimate a site's importance.

Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant Web pages must be the most relevant ones, Page and Brin decided to test their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. The domain www.google.com was registered on September 15, 1997. They formally founded their company, Google, Inc., on September 7, 1998 at a friend's garage in Menlo Park, California. In February 1999, the company moved into offices at 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto, home of a number of other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. Google quickly outgrew the University Avenue site. After further outgrowing two other sites, the company settled on a complex of buildings (known by some as "The Googleplex") in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, in 2003.

The Google search engine gained a following among Internet users for its simple, clean design and relevant search results. In 2000, Google had begun selling advertisements by the keyword so that they would be more relevant to the end user. The ads were text-based in order to keep page design uncluttered and fast-loading. The concept of selling keyword advertising was originally pioneered by Overture[1], formerly Goto.com. While many of its dot-com siblings went under, Google quietly rose in stature while turning a profit.

describing Google's ranking mechanism (PageRank) was granted on September 4, 2001. The patent was officially assigned to Stanford University and lists Lawrence Page as the inventor.

In February 2003, Google acquired Pyra Labs, owner of Blogger, a pioneering and leading weblog-hosting Web site. The acquisition seemed inconsistent with the general mission of Google. However, the move secured the company's ability to use information gleaned from blog postings to improve the speed and relevance of articles contained in Google News.

At its peak in early 2004, Google handled upwards of 80 percent of all search requests on the world wide web through its Web site and clients like Yahoo!, AOL, and CNN.[2] Google's share fell in February 2004 when Yahoo! dropped Google's search technology in order to deliver independent results. As further evidence of Google's popularity, the word "google" has entered North American slang as a verb meaning, "to perform a web search (using google's search engine)".

Google's declared code of conduct is Don't be evil. Their site includes humorous features such as cartoon modifications [3] of their logo for special occasions, the option to display the site in fictional or humorous languages such as Klingon[4] and Leet[5], and April Fool's jokes [6] about the company.

It is conjectured that Google's response to Yahoo will be personalized searches, using the personal data that is gathering from Orkut, Gmail, and Froogle to give results based on the individual. In fact, there is a Personalized Google Search Beta in Google Labs, the experimental section of Google.com.

Etymology

The name "Google" was first used in the 1927 Little Rascals silent film "Dog Heaven", used to refer to a having a drink of water.

The name "Google" is a play on the word googol, which was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of U.S. mathematician Edward Kasner in 1938, to refer to the number represented by 1 followed by one hundred zeros. Google's use of the term reflects the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the Web. A Googolplex is 1 followed by a googol of zeros.

Financing and IPO

Google's major investors are the venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. In October 2003, while discussing a possible IPO (Initial Public Offering of shares), the company was approached by Microsoft about a possible partnership or merger; no such deal ever materialized.

In January 2004, Google announced the hiring of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to arrange an IPO. That IPO (one of the most anticipated in history) was projected to raise as much as $4 billion. According to a banker involved in the transaction, the deal would yield an estimated $12 billion market capitalization for Google.

On April 29, 2004, Google filed an S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO to raise as much as USD $2,718,281,828 (with a touch of mathematical humor as e = 2.718281828...). The filing revealed that Google turned a profit every year since 2001 and earned a profit of $105.6 million on revenues of $961.8 million during 2003.

In May 2004, Google officially cut Goldman Sachs from the IPO, leaving Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston as the joint underwriters. They chose the unconventional way of allocation the initial offering through an auction (and specifically a "Dutch auction"), so that "anyone" would be able to participate in the offering. The smallest required account balances at most authorized online brokers that are allowed to participate in an IPO, however, are around $100,000. In the run-up to the IPO the company was forced to slash the price and size of the offering, but the process didn't run into any technical difficulties or result in any significant legal challenges. The initial offering of shares was sold for $85 a piece. The public valued it at $100.34 at the close of the first day of trading which saw 22,351,900 shares change hands.

After some initial stumbles, Google's initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004. 19,605,052 shares were offered at a price of $85 per share. Of that, 14,142,135 (another mathematical reference as √2 = 1.4142135...) were floated by Google and 5,462,917 by selling stockholders. The sale raised $1.67 billion, of which approximately $1.2 billion went to Google. The vast majority of Google's 271 million shares remained under Google's control. The IPO gave Google a market capitalization of more than $23 billion. Many of Google's employees became instant paper millionaires. Ironically Yahoo! also benefited from the IPO because it owns 2.7 million shares of Google. The company was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol GOOG.

Since the IPO, Google's stock market capitalization has risen to $50 billion as the stock price has doubled. On August 19 2004 the number of shares outstanding was 172.85 million while the "free float" was 19.60 million (which makes 89% held by insiders). In January 2005 the shares outstanding was up 100 million to 273.42 million, 53% of that was held by insiders which made the float 127.70 million (up 110 million shares from the first trading day). The two founders are said to hold almost 30% of the outstanding shares. The company has not reported any treasury stock holdings as of the Q3 2004 report.

Salaries

A seen in the Googleplex parking lot
Enlarge
A license plate seen in the Googleplex parking lot

The basic salaries at Google are considered to be low compared to industry standards. For instance, system administrators earn no more than $33,000–37,000: this is considered to be low by Bay Area standard levels.

However, despite the low salaries, Google's strong brand and stellar prospects (relative to most Bay Area companies) continue to attract far more applicants than there are positions available. As a result, Google reportedly had to hire one in-house legal recruiter just to help the legal department sort through resumes from job-hungry lawyers.

Management

Job: name, age, pay (as of Summer 2003)

Analysts

Research analysts covering Google Inc. See also GOOG: Star Analysts for GOOGLE - Yahoo! Finance

Corporate culture

Philosophy

Google is known for its relaxed corporate culture, reminiscent of the Dot-com boom. Google's corporate philosophy is based on many casual principles including, "You can make money without doing evil", "You can be serious without a suit" and "work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun." A complete list of corporate fundamentals is available on Google's web site [7]. The company encourages equality along the corporate levels and tells its employees to work on a personal project one day a week. Twice a week there is a roller hockey game in the company parking lot.

Twenty percent time

Each Google engineer is required to spend 20% of their work week on projects that interest them. Some of these end up as Google services (notably Gmail and Google News).

Googleplex

The Googleplex's lobby (Google headquarters) is decorated with a piano, lava lamps and a real time projection of current search queries. The hallways are full of exercise balls and bicycles. Each employee has a Linux workstation and access to the corporate recreation center. The recreation center includes a workout room with weights and rowing machines, locker rooms, washers and dryers, a massage room, assorted video games, Foosball, a baby grand piano, a pool table and ping pong. In addition to the rec room, there are snack rooms stocked with various cereals, gummy bears, M&Ms, toffee, licorice, cashews, yogurt, carrots, fresh fruit, and dozens of different drinks including fresh juice, soda and make-your-own cappuccino. After eating, people can relieve themselves on digital toilets similar to Japanese toilets.

IPO and culture

Many people have suggested that after Google's IPO their culture will not be able to stay so "fun" and focused on the future.[8] [9] The company may be required to answer to shareholders who will want the company to cut back on employee benefits and to focus on short term advances. Also, it may be hard to maintain a collegial atmosphere when approximately 1,000 (30%) of the employees are paper-millionaires. In a report given to potential investors, co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page promised that the IPO would not change the company's culture. Later Mr. Page said, "We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements."

Criticism and controversy

Despite Google's apparent success it has also managed to become the target of critics.

Copyright issues

A number of organizations have used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to demand that Google remove references to allegedly copyrighted material on other sites. Google typically handles this by removing the link as requested and including a link to the complaint in the search results.

There have also been complaints that Google's web cache feature violates copyright. However, Google provides mechanisms for requesting that caching be disabled (which Google respects; it also honors the robots.txt file which is another mechanism that allows operators of a website to request that part or all of their site not be included in search engine results).

Dispute with Agence France Presse

In March 2005, Agence France Presse (AFP) sued Google for $17.5 million, alleging that Google News infringed on its copyright because "Google includes AFPs photos, stories and news headlines on Google News without permission from Agence France Presse." [10] It was also alleged that Google ignored a cease and desist order, though Google counters that it has opt-out procedures which AFP could have followed but did not.

It is possible that AFP will make additional arguments in court that it has not yet made in public, but currently, many pundits are confused by the decision to sue [11][12][13] because Google does not display the full article on its site, provides a link to one of AFP's 600 online clients such as Channel News Asia (which presumably benefits AFP because more people view the article and advertising), and because the articles are available via the providers' websites regardless of Google's actions. It was argued that had AFP wanted to prevent free use of its articles, it should have asked its providers to require subscriptions rather than suing google. Additionally, "in 2002, a federal appeals court ruled that Web sites may reproduce and post 'thumbnail' or down-sized versions of copyrighted photographs," so Google News' thumbnails are likely legal. [14] Still, AFP argues that the headline and first sentence of an article constitutes the "heart" of the work and that reproducing it is copyright infringement.

According to the Canada Free Press , "Google Inc. is now attempting to remove all postings of Agence-France Presse material from its site, although AFP spokesmen say that even if this is done, the lawsuit will continue... It seems that the basis of the lawsuit is just the abstract notion of copyright without any real damages to justify the action." The article concluded " It would be a sad day for those who look to the Internet for news if AFP is successful in limiting what Google can display... FPs lawsuit, if successful, is bound to have a major impact on how news is delivered on the Internet."[15]

The lawsuit's outcome will likely depend on whether Google can win that its use of AFP's material constitutes "fair use" under copyright law. Google could even argue that it "adds value" to AFP's news without harming the French news wholesaler.[16]

Multinational corporation

Google is a multinational corporation, having offices in over a dozen countries [17]. In order to comply with the varying laws of these countries, several versions of Google restrict very specific keyword searches. According to French and German law, for example, hate speech and Holocaust denial are illegal. Google complies with these laws by banning keyword searches related to these terms. The People's Republic of China, whose human rights record has been widely criticized by the international community, has in the past restricted citizen access to popular search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google. This complete ban is currently lifted, however the government remains proactive in filtering internet content.

Legal issues

Google's efforts to refine its database has led to some legal controversy, notably a lawsuit in October 2002 from the company SearchKing which sought to sell advertisements on pages with inflated Google rankings. In its defense, Google stated that its rankings are its constitutionally protected opinions of the web sites that it indexes. A judge subsequently threw out SearchKing's lawsuit in mid-2003 on precisely these grounds.

In late 2003 and early 2004, there were rumors that Google would be sued by the SCO Group over their use of the Linux operating system, in conjunction with SCO's lawsuit against IBM over the claimed ownership of intellectual property rights relating to Linux.

In May 2004, the Baltimore Sun interviewed Peri Fleisher, a great-niece of Edward Kasner, the mathematician whose nephew coined the word googol, who said Kasner's descendants were "exploring" legal action against Google due to its name.

Google recently settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Yahoo! by issuing 2.7 million shares. Yahoo! had earlier alleged that Google's Ad Sense program violated a patent held by Yahoo!'s Overture unit. The settlement cost Google around $275 million which resulted in the company posting a net loss in the third quarter of 2004.

Partiality

In February 2003, Google banned the ads of Oceana , a two-and-a-half-year-old non-profit organization, which was protesting the environmental effects of a major cruise ship operations' sewage treatment practices. Google claimed that their editorial policy states, "that Google does not accept advertising if the ad or site advocates against other individuals, groups, or organizations."

Offensive search results

In April 2004, Google received complaints that a search for "Jew" on its site listed the anti-Jewish website Jew Watch at or towards the top of the list. Google insisted this was a result of their content-oblivious PageRank algorithm. [18].

Privacy

Main article: Google and privacy issues

Some have pointed out the privacy implications of having a centrally located, widely popular data warehouse of millions of internet users' searches, and how under existing US law, Google would be required to hand over all such information to the US government.

It has been claimed that Google infringes the privacy of visitors by uniquely identifying them using cookies which are used to track web user's search history. The cookies possess excessively distant expiry dates and it is claimed users' searches are recorded without permission for advertising purposes. In response Google claims cookies are necessary to maintain user preferences between sessions and offer other search features. The use of cookies with distant expiry dates is not uncommon.

Some users believe the processing of email message content by Google's Gmail service goes beyond proper use. The point is often made that people without Gmail accounts, who have not agreed to the Gmail terms of service, but send email to Gmail users have their correspondence analyzed without permission. Google claims that mail sent to or from Gmail is never read by a human being beyond the account holder, and is only used to improve relevance of advertisements. Other popular email services such as Hotmail also scan incoming email to try to determine whether it is unsolicited email.

Chris Hoofnagle, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC warned that "As courts become more frequent integrators of electronic records, there is a greater risk of Google ... becoming a serious privacy threat."

The PageRank system

Google's central PageRank system has been criticized, some calling it "undemocratic". Common arguments are that the system is unfairly biased towards large web sites, and that the criteria for a page's importance are not subject to peer review. The system is also highly susceptible to manipulation and fraud through the use of dummy sites. See Google bomb and Spamdexing.

Google's association with the Wikimedia Foundation

On February 11, 2005, news [19] [20] emerged that discussions are in progress over the possibility of Google hosting a section of the Wikimedia Foundation's information on donated servers and internet transit. Early information states that no advertising (such as Google's AdWords) would be necessary on Wikimedia's projects. The Foundation confirmed that the two groups will hold a private IRC chat in March to further discuss possibilities, and stressed that no details have yet been finalised. As a result, some outsiders have coined the unofficial term "Googlepedia".

April Fool's Day jokes

Main article: Google's hoaxes

Google has a tradition of creating April Fool's Day jokes such as Google MentalPlex which featured the use of mental power to search the web. In 2002 they claimed that pigeons were the secret behind their growing search engine. In 2004 it featured Google Lunar which featured jobs on the moon and in 2005 a fictitious, brain-boosting drink termed Google Gulp was announced.

External links

Corporate information

Conference calls

Legal controversies

Technical Overview

Google Linux Cluster

Criticism

The contents of this article are licensed from Wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy