What is Google?

Google is the world’s most popular search engine and one of the most fundamental forces behind the internet as we know it. With a global network of data centres and offices, the company operates in numerous areas including hardware, cloud computing, advertising and software. It has grown from its roots as a garage startup to become a global giant, and the phrase ‘googling’ is now a part of everyday language.

The company was founded in 1996 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two Ph.D students at Stanford University in California, USA. They created a search algorithm called BackRub that prioritized Web pages based on the number and quality of other Web pages that linked to them, rather than the content or keywords. This improved the relevance of results and rapidly increased Google’s market share. They later renamed the site Google after the mathematical term googol (one followed by 100 zeros).

In the early days of Google, the founders ran the company out of their own garages in Mountain View, California and relied on friends and family for funding. They eventually landed $100,000 from Sun cofounder Andy Bechtolsheim, and in 1998 the company became Google Inc. It has since expanded to operate offices around the globe and employs thousands of people. The company’s headquarters remain in Mountain View, with other major regional offices located in Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, London and Paris.

Google’s product portfolio is hugely diverse, encompassing everything from online advertising to smartphone operating systems and virtual reality. It even owns a hardware division that includes the Pixel smartphone range and the Chromecast in-home media streamer. Other products include Gmail, YouTube and the Google Drive office productivity suite.

Despite its many services and products, Google still earns nearly all of its revenue from its search engine technology. In 2016 it earned nearly $49.5 billion from ads that appear based on users’ search requests.

In 2015, Google reorganized into a holding company named Alphabet Inc. Its Internet search, mobile operating system Android and video-sharing website YouTube remained under Alphabet while its longevity research firm, Calico, home-products company Nest and research lab Google X became separate companies. Page remained CEO of Alphabet, while Brin and Eric Schmidt retained their roles as president and executive chairman respectively. The company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol GOOG. As of 2019, it is worth over $700 billion and is the fourth most valuable company in the world by market cap. Its vast portfolio of offerings makes it a leading competitor in the high-tech marketplace, alongside Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. It also owns the most extensive network of data centers in the world. This allows it to offer a fast, reliable and secure experience for its customers around the globe. Its broad product range also places it at the forefront of artificial intelligence.

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