September 3, 2008
Search is Google, Google Is Search: The Corporate SE Giant Will Be Ten Years Old on Sunday, September 7th
From Garage to Corporate Campus. "It is conceivable that future historians will regard the first day of Google Inc on September 7 1998 ... as the true dawn of the 21st century," writes David Smith in Google, 10 years in: big, friendly giant or a greedy Goliath? (The Guardian). Of course, the initial launch of the Google search engine came earlier. The first version of the SE was released on the Stanford University website in August 1996 (and finally shutdown in 2006), but Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn't get down to the business of search for another two years.
It started with a $100,000 check from Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, a check Page and Brin could not cash because "Google Inc." did not exist as a legal entity. "There was no way to deposit the check. It sat in Larry's desk drawer for a couple of weeks while he and Sergey scrambled to set up a corporation." Google Corporate History. Fixing that minor legal detail and acquiring additional start-up capital totally close to $1 million, Google Inc. was launched on September 7, 2008 in its first corporate headquarters -- Susan Wojcicki's garage at 232 Santa Margarita Avenue, Menlo Park, California (Click on image above left for the obligatory viewing of Page and Brin in the garage.) -- with a staff of three and overhead costs of $1,700 per month for renting the garage. See The house that helped build Google (USA Today). One employee benefit, the driveway provided free parking for the staff.
The company moved out of the garage in February 1999 but it seems fitting, albeit not very original, that we use Google Maps for a overhead view of Wojcicki's house and Googleplex, the company's international headquarters in Mountain View, California.
|Menlo Park||Mountain View|
Google bought the house in 2006 around the time of the 10th anniversary of the search engine's launch. BBC news story.
Susan Wojcicki, by the way, joined the company in 1999. She produced some of the first now familiar holiday logos, was responsible for the initial development of Google Image Search, Book Search and Video Search and managed the licensing of web search and site search to Google's first customers. She is now Google's vice president of product management.
Search Engine History. Check out Best of the Web's 1994 Popular Navigational Aids and History of Search Engines: From 1945 to Google 2007 for a glimpse at all those old web tools and SEs we used before Google Inc.'s SE was unleashed in beta to the world beyond Stanford. [First logo, left] If market dominance counts (and it does), early SE history is just a footnote to Brin and Page's 1998 paper, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. Indeed, I found the Best of the Web 1994 link in the paper
The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine describes the then current features of the Google SE (page rank algorithm, anchor text, and proximity information) and its architecture for gathering web pages, indexing them, and performing search queries over them. [Click on second image, left, for the paper's diagram of the architecture]. See also Barroso, Dean & Hölzle's Web Search for a Planet: The Google Cluster Architecture, IEEE micro 23 (2): 22–28 (2003).
Search Engine Transparency. In the paper, Brin and Page write, "we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent." SE transparency remains an issue. It has become much more complex. Advertising seems minor compared to the consequences of doing SE business in countries that do not respect human rights. Google's record leaves much to be desired. See Will Google Remain Evil?
SE transparency has also been complicated by Google becoming a very significant web content expediter (YouTube, Blogger, Knol) and provider (Google Maps, Google's Book Digitalization Project), something the founders may not have envisioned ten years ago when they wrote, "search engine bias is particularly insidious." For example, if you perform a Google Web Search for any location the first result you will get is an image of a Google map with a link to Google Maps for directions. [Third image above left] Does anyone remember Mapquest? My wife, for example, doesn't. She uses Google Maps. I'm still old school; I use my Mapquest bookmark. This may be recognized as grounds for divorce in the State of Ohio someday.
|Happy 10th Anniversary Googler Staffers. Valleywag is reporting here and here that afternoon snacks and tea for Googlers will no longer be free. They’ll still get free breakfast and lunch but free dinners are now reserved for geeks only.|
Let's not forget the connection between Google's digitalization project and Google Book Search. How often does a search result list a book "digitized by Google" first? Try A Tale of Two Cities. When I performed the search, the metadata indicated that the source came from Harvard University and the copy was digitized on Feb. 7, 2008. The first page of the PDF download explains "this is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the world’s books discoverable online." Is the 1922 Macmillian edition of A Tale of Two Cities so bibliographically significant that it deserves pride of place in a book search engine?
Moving from SE to Browser Wars. Yesterday, Google launched Chrome, its open source browser. Checking the fine print of Chome's end-user license agreement, Webware's Ina Fried discovered that Google says it has a right to display some of your content, in conjunction with promoting its services. Not quite sure what this means but it's not exactly user-friendly. Well, at least Chrome does not automatically make itself your default browser.
Endnote. We don't need a Venn diagram to know that for all practical purposes Search is Google. For a list of search engines we don't and won't use because Google is Search, see ReadWriteWeb's Top 100 Alternative Search Engines. See also the Yahoo vs. Google tool to map out how Google and Yahoo search results are linked to each other. [JH]
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