What is Google?

Google is the world’s top search engine, with a proprietary algorithm that retrieves and orders search results to offer users the most relevant information possible. Its dominance has even spawned the use of “Google” as a verb; to search for something online, it’s common to say you “googled it.”

The company produces many popular services that have become household names. Its web browser, Chrome, is one of the most widely used internet software programs available. It also operates a large advertising business, placing and serving the banner advertisements you see on many websites.

Other popular Google products include the Android mobile operating system, Google Maps, and the video-sharing site YouTube. Its e-mail service, Gmail, is an industry leader with more than a billion active users, and its cloud-based software suite, Google App Engine, provides the tools for developers to create scalable web applications.

Its online mapping service, Google Earth, offers virtual tours of many of the world’s most iconic locations. It also has a variety of other social media and communications apps, including the photo-sharing service Google Photos, the instant messaging program Google Hangouts, and the blog platform Blogger.

Google’s initial public offering in 2004 made founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page millionaires instantly and made the company a member of the Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index. Since that time, the company has grown to operate dozens of data centers around the world and employs thousands of people worldwide.

In 2015, Google reorganized itself into the holding company Alphabet Inc. Internet search, advertising, apps, and maps remained under the Google name, while other ventures, including longevity research company Calico, home-products maker Nest, and its “moonshot” research lab, Google X, became separate companies under Alphabet. Brin and Schmidt stayed on as co-founders of Alphabet, but stepped down from their positions as CEO and executive chairman respectively. Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Google’s product division, took over as Alphabet’s CEO and retained his position at Google.

Along with its main line of products, Google also maintains a number of hidden or experimental services. Known as Easter eggs, these include Google H4x0r (which displays the Google homepage and search results in leet speak), Google Klingon (displays the Google homepage and search results in Klingon), and Google Pig Latin (displays the Google homepage and search results using Pig Latin). Google also has a number of other well-known hidden features such as the Google Toolbar for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox.

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