COM 208: Google

Beginnings of Google

  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded the company when they were students at Stanford University
  • Began as a research project in 1996
  • Incorporated as a private company in 1998
  • Went public in 2004
  • Based in Mountain View, Calif.
  • Fortune magazine has rated Google the No. 1 place to work
  • Google is the misspelling of the word googol, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros

Note: Key sources for this page include “What would Google do?” by Jeff Jarvis and “Googled: The End of the World As We Know It” by Ken Auletta.

Google sells itself

  • Among the fastest growing companies in the world
  • Didn’t need a marketing campaign
  • Only company as visible is probably Coca-Cola

Google’s goal: To change the world

  • Google, some experts say, has changed the fundamental architecture of society and industry
  • Google encroaches on every media industry
  • Google acts without asking for permission

Size and impact of Google

  • Number of employees: nearly 20,000.
  • Google is the most visited site on the Internet
  • Google sells $20 billion in ads per year – or 40 percent of online ad spending
  • Google’s YouTube hosts two-thirds of all Web videos. 15 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. That is equal to 86,000 full-length movies per week

What kind of company is Google?

It started as a search engine, then quickly expanded its reach.

  • Internet
  • Software
  • Technology
  • Advertising
  • Media

What Google does

  • Google organizes an abundance of information and knowledge
  • Customers are in charge
  • The mass market is gone. It’s now a mass of niches
  • Google allows people to organize without having an organization
  • Build it and they will come

Google’s business model

  • Google gives away most of its services. That attracts a huge number of users. Google then sells – or lets you sell – ads to that audience
  • Business is based on conversing, not marketing

Googlethink: Ten things we know to be true

Seeing the world differently

In the Google era, companies must do business differently

  • Company’s public face used to be found exclusively in its ads, slogans, brands and logos
  • Now, ideally, company’s public face should be found in the face of satisfied customers
  • Example: MyStarbucksIdea

Google is a company of engineers

Getting a job at Google is tougher than getting into Harvard. But once you’re in, it’s a great company to work for. Google offers employees:

  • 1 day per week to work on personal projects (half the company’s new initiatives, including Google News, Gmail and Adsense, came from this off time)
  • $70 million in free meals and snacks per year
  • Free massages, physicals, barbers, dentists, day care, laptops, commuter bus, oil changes, car washes and other perks
  • Five months maternity leave for moms. Seven weeks for dads, with full pay.

It’s all about numbers

  • Google’s advertising rates are based on number of clicks
  • That takes the mystery out of advertising
  • Advertisers have a better idea what they’re paying for

Mel Karmazin, then a Viacom executive, visited Google in 2003. He realized Google’s approach to advertising would hurt traditional media advertising. He said, “You’re f–king with the magic.”

Google’s adversaries include:

  • Authors Guild
  • Associated Press
  • Newspapers
  • Hollywood
  • Advertising companies
  • Telephone companies
  • Viacom and other companies that produce TV programs

Rupert Murdoch, founder and CEO of News Corp., the third-largest media conglomerate

  • Suggested in November 2009 that he would block Google from spidering his Web sites’ content
  • Google sets the price of doing business on the Internet, some critics say
  • If Google’s spiders are blocked, then the value of Google’s search index would fall


  • Will Google grow so big that it will become the enemy?
  • Will it safeguard our information?
  • Can it be trusted?
  • Will it do evil?
  • Will Google make us stooopid?

A nation of browsers

  • Lack of depth and critical thinking
  • Diminished capacity for concentration and contemplation

What do you think?: Is Google changing the way we think?

Driving us to distraction

  • Internet companies want us to be online as long as possible
  • The more hits, the more ads
  • The more distracted we are, the more money these companies make

But: Does filling our heads with content make us smarter?

  • Author Nicolas Carr wonders if we becoming “pancake people”? That is, are we increasingly superficial?
  • What do you think? Are we letting Google make more and more of our important decisions?
  • Are we losing capacity for deep thought?
  • Are we less human and more machine?

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