Going Global: Google's Ascent

Using the BackRub software they had first begun with, Brin and Page re-launched it under the name of Google. The name was chosen as a play on words of ‘googol’, a mathematical term meaning a 1 followed by 100 zeros. They originally used the Stanford University website as the host for their program, with their website being google.stanford.edu.

On September 13, 1997, www.google.com was officially registered. One year later, on September 7, 1998, Brin and Page first incorporated Google as a private company. Due to word of mouth advertising, over 10,000 people were using Google every day. “All these people were using Google, and we didn’t have enough computers or enough resources to really provide a great service to people,” recalls Page. “So we needed capital to do that. We wanted to get everyone in the world to use it.”

The company had just moved out of Page’s dorm room and into a friend’s garage. The two realized quickly that they needed more virtual storage space. “We went out and we found this really good deal on hard drives,” says Page. “And we bought, like, 120 hard drives. And we had to use all of our credit cards and our friend’s credit cards and our parents’ credit cards.” Despite having a massive credit card debt, the two soon felt some relief when private investments from Stanford came through.

As Google continued to grow 20% per month solely by word of mouth, Brin and Page realized that they had hit upon something great. After approaching potential partners like Yahoo! to see if they could license their technology, they found little interest. Few saw the profitability in improving their search engines. Thus, Page and Brin decided to grow the company themselves.

They began to approach angel investors, and later venture capitalists, embarking on months of trying to raise money. Unlike before, they now had much success, which Page attributes to the usefulness of the product itself. “Everyone we talked to actually wanted to invest,” says Page. “That was a nice thing. But that’s because it’s a great product and everyone was using it. People could understand why it was better.” In total, Page and Brin had raised almost $1 million.

In 1999, Google finally moved into an office in Palo Alto, California. Now with eight staff, Google was answering over 500,000 searches each day. That year, the company got its first commercial search customer, Red Hat, and also secured $25 million from two leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. As more staff began to be hired, Google again moved headquarters to its current location in Mountain View, California. Companies such as AOL/Netscape selected Google as its search engine, pushing Google’s users into the millions.

Over the next five years, Google continued to grow and expand its services. It introduced innovative advertising programs, improved its own benefits, went international, partnered with other corporate giants and even went public in 2004. It has been named Brand of the Year and its founders Persons of the Year. Today, Google is available in more than 35 languages and is used by over 380 million people worldwide.

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