Google is one of the biggest tech companies in the world. So much so that its name is often used as a synonym for the Internet – hey, it is perhaps the first page most people head to when they are seeking information. And did you know that it all started on this very day – September 4 – twenty years ago. So as the company turns 20 years old, what better way to wish it a very happy birthday than to come up with 20 (of course) interesting facts about the search giant that you probably did not know:
1. Founders met by accident
Back in 1995, Lawrence Page, who was 22 at the time, was considering attending Stanford University for his Ph.D., whereas Sergey Brin, then 21, was already pursuing his Ph.D. there. The second-year student, Brin, was asked to show Page around Stanford, and the rest, as they say, is (search) history!
2. It was originally called BackRub
Your mind might go straight to massageland on hearing the word “BackRub,” but this was what its founders called Google originally. When they began working on the search engine, they decided to name it based on its underlying algorithm of checking backlinks – hence, well, BackRub. Imagine, if that had stuck, we would be saying “BackRub it” instead of “Google it.” Ouch!
3. Google came from a spelling error
After BackRub, Google was supposed to be named “googol”, a mathematical term representing one followed by a hundred zeros, which signifies the search giant’s capacity to access the information present on the Internet and, of course, the binary code, but as per some sources, an investor misspelled the term “googol” as “google,” and it stuck. As per another story, a student misspelled the name while looking for an available name for the company. Well, whatever the story may be, the typo was definitely a good mistake to make. Thank God there was no autocorrect!
4. Doing a doodle first time …
We have all adored Google Doodles over the year, but the first-ever Google Doodle was actually a message for the users. In 1998, Brin and Page were traveling to Nevada to attend the Burning Man festival when they created a doodle of a man standing behind the second O in the logo in order to let the users know that they would not be able to fix tech issues.
5. …and now more than 2000!
Since the first doodle in August 1998, the team of designers and illustrators have produced more than 2000 doodles for Google’s homepage. These doodles often mark the date for important events and anniversaries of legendary people in different areas of expertise.
6. Doodle? Play too!
Google Doodles mark legendary events and anniversaries – and some of them are interactive games too. The first-ever “playable” doodle? On 21 May 2010, when the company created a PAC-MAN doodle to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the arcade game.
7. It all starts with a garage
Just like a stereotypical Silicon Valley start-up, the Google story also needed a garage. While they may not have started out in their own garage like the Cupertino giant, in September 1998, Page and Bryn rented out Susan Wojcicki’s garage on Santa Margarita Avenue in Menlo Park, California. Google then went ahead and bought the house where it all started and later filled it with candy, snacks, and lava lamps. The company now owns more than 70 offices in 50 different countries (cue to play, “started from the bottom now we’re here” by Drake).
8. Stored in a Lego case
When first developed, Google was actually stored in ten 4 GB hard drives, which were put in a, well, Lego casing. Legend has it that the Lego casing was used because not only would it let the founders expand easily but also because Legos fit the founders’ then budget. The lego casing is now showcased at Stanford University.
9. First ever snack? Not phish, but Swedish Fish
Known for offering gourmet food and snacks to its employees, Google’s first snack ever was actually not so gourmet. In 1999, the company offered its employees Swedish Fish which was a chewy candy like gummy bears.
10. The first ever investor
Judging by the size of the company now, you might think the first investment in the company must have been in the range of at least millions, but actually, it was not even close to that number. Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim was the first investor in Google who initially invested a sum of USD 100,000 in the company in August 1998. Good call, Andy!
11. Mow a lawn, get some goats!
Google is undoubtedly one of the biggest tech companies in the world, but do you know what this tech behemoth does when it needs to get its lawn mowed? Well, it rents goats! Yes, you heard it right. First started in 2009, the Google headquarters rented 200 goats from California Grazing to mow their lawns. As per the employees, not only is it a lot more cute to watch goats than lawn mowers, it is actually pretty environment-friendly as well. That’s not so Mehhhh, is it?
12. A geeky entrance on Twitter
I'm 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010
— Google (@Google) February 26, 2009
It is no surprise that binary code is close to Google’s heart, and one of the ways in which the company expressed its love for the code was when it made its first tweet. Google, in binary code, tweeted “I’m feeling lucky”, a button that was earlier present on Google’s homepage. The tweet looked like, “I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010.” And before you ask, it did not break the character limit – 133 characters, folks!
13. It owns a dinosaur…
Well, not a real one but a skeleton structure of a dinosaur. The Google head office has a skeleton structure of a T- Rex nicknamed Stan, who is actually the inspiration behind the game “Dino-Run.” Yes, that’s the game you end up playing on Google Chrome when you cannot connect to the Internet!
14. …and it loves them doggos
While the adult-sized ball pit, the gourmet food, and the gym are all pretty cool, what really makes Google office a hit is its dog policy. Any dog with a strong bladder and friendly nature is more than welcomed in the offices. Although the policy is not quite the same for its feline fellows, as that could cause some distress. Woof!
15. Not a deal to go Yahoo about
When the founders initially created Google, they wanted to sell the company to Yahoo! (yes!) as they did not want to own a startup (yes!). Legend has it that Yahoo declined the offer but later on realized its mistake and offered USD 3 billion for the company in 2002, which then was declined by Google. Shades of Coca-Cola missing out on the chance to buy out Pepsi, eh?
16. How many searches daily? Think billions, dude!
Being the biggest search engine in the world might sound very glamorous, but it is a lot of hard work on the inside. The Google search engine receives and processor over 3.5 billion searches per day. That’s about forty thousand searches per second! If that’s not hard work, we do not know what is!
17. Go to Denny’s, order mozzarella sticks, and buy YouTube
Google and YouTube negotiated a deal for the search giant to take over YouTube at Denny’s. Over mozzarella sticks too. Whoever said food and work do not mix clearly needs to work at Google.
18. A company a week…whattay takeover diet!
Takeovers are the day-to-day business for Google. Literally. The search giant has been acquiring more than one company per week since 2010. That’s a whole lotta companies. Keeping each other company. In companionship. All right, end puns!
19. “Search” ing for the best place to work?
From 2012 to 2017 and in 2007 and 2008, Google was ranked number one on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list. This means the search giant won 8 times out of 11 up until 2017, which is a pretty great track record. Searching for a great place to work? Google it!
20. GBikes to travel around the Googleplex
In 2007, Google introduced “Clown Bikes,” – 1,000 Google-logo-coloured, basket-equipped beach cruisers called bikes for its employees to commute around the Googleplex. Employees can simply borrow the nearest set of bikes and drop them off close to the office entryway for other Googlers to use. Many bikes we like!
All right, happy birthday, Google.
PS: 21 facts next year? You betcher!