AIB Featured Business – Google
As a brand that needs no introduction, American technology company Google has had a remarkable business journey since its inception in 1998. Specialising in internet-related services and products, Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin who were PhD students at Stanford at the time. When formed, its mission statement was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and this has remained true to this day. Over the years, rapid growth has seen Google branch out to services including online advertising, search, cloud computing and software. The focus has always been on the user, and “providing the best user experience possible”. Google’s focus is simple – to ensure that any new changes will ultimately serve the user, rather than their own internal goal or bottom line.
When Page and Brin created Google, conventional search engines at the time ranked results by counting how many terms appeared on the page. The pair wanted to go beyond this to create a more complex system, analysing the relationships between websites. Originally named “PageRank”, the technology determined a website’s relevance by the number of pages and the importance of those pages that linked back to the original site. For those familiar with today’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practices, this original theory forms the basis of the Google algorithm that exists today.
According to Google, Larry Page once described the perfect search engine as something that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want”. Since then, Google has worked to offer products beyond the search engine function which also endeavour to make it as easy as possible to gain the information you need. Over the past decade, Google has acquired many companies to expand their products and services. Most notable acquisitions include Keyhole Inc. – the start-up that developed a product called Earth Viewer and later renamed Google Earth in 2005. In addition, Google acquired video-sharing platform YouTube in 2007 for $1.65 billion in Google stock. While they do not disclose detailed figures for YouTube’s running costs, Forbes Magazine projected the 2008 YouTube revenue as $200 million with progress in advertising sales.
It’s no secret that Google is one of the largest organisations in the world, and with that comes a strong company culture. In 2007, 2008 and 2012, Google was ranked first on Fortune magazine’s list of best companies to work for. Google has adopted a corporate philosophy very different to normal businesses, with key principles such as “you can be serious without a suit” and “you can make money without doing evil”. As of 2013, the organisation had 47,756 employees based in 40 offices around the world.
One of the more unique motivation techniques in place at Google is the policy named ‘Innovation Time Off’, where Google engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on projects which are of interest to them. Interestingly, some of the major features of Google such as Gmail, Google News and AdSense originated because of this initiative. Google’s headquarters ‘Googleplex’ in California is also a common topic of conversation due to its differences to traditional office spaces. Recreational amenities are scattered throughout the campus including weights rooms, a massage room, video games, table tennis and snack rooms. In addition, free food is available to employees 24/7 with the offerings focusing on healthy and nutritious options.
What do you think?
When we look at the story of Google, it is great to see that it began with two ordinary people, with an idea of doing something better. Over the years, Google has been built into this multibillion-dollar organisation, which shows that doing things differently can reap some great rewards. I am interested to hear though, what do you admire most about Google’s business journey? Comment below and share your views.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Wikipedia; Google Philosophy;
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