History of Google Documentary


For centuries, the idea of power
within our global society has been perpetuated, transferred, and
grasped at by nations and empires; the political lines of
countries and continents have formed the outline of existence
for billions of people. This arrangement provided
some modicum of stability, a foundation for individual
cultures to flourish, and a framework for economic activity. However, as with any
manmade structure, certain elements decay, new pieces
are added for support, and eventually, its composition
is irreparably changed. While business and trade have been a
part of our human consciousness since the first humanoid traded a sharpened
rock for a piece of dry wood, in recent decades, industry has
exponentially evolved and assumed a much larger role in the daily
lives of people across the globe. People used to identify with nations,
pledging their allegiance to one king or another, but the broad boundaries of
loyalty, as a concept, have expanded. From birth, we are trained to
ally ourselves with groups of like-minded people, whether it is
the other members of our hometown, believers in a certain faith, or devoted
fans of one musician or artist. Industry was somewhat late to this
game, and for many years, the business world was purely a place of commerce,
a place where needs were met. As companies swelled in
size and began overflowing into other regions,
nations, and continents, familiarity created a superficial
form of popularity or brand loyalty, but that was primarily
based on availability. However, the influence of corporate
entities has never stopped growing. As we look around the world today, we see
that where loyalty, wealth, and power used to remain firmly and undeniably in the
hands of nations and political entities, businesses have gradually reached
the same echelon of influence. This is not to say that foreign
relations and global politics have become any less important
in the progress of the world; they merely have to share the
stage to a certain degree with other very important
economic and industrial actors. The intermingling of business and
politics has become a tangled, indecipherable web that touches, restricts,
or drives every country on earth. In reality, the number of sovereign
states is anywhere between 195 and 203, depending on who you ask
and what country they’re from. However, for all intents and purposes,
the number of sovereign nations on the planet should also include the
massive political and economic clout of a few dozen corporations that
exist and thrive around the world. For example, in 2013, Google reported a net
income of approximately 12.92 billion USD. According to the IMF’s report
of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product), Google is wealthier
than 64 sovereign nations. A single corporation, which is
less than 20 years old, has managed to develop enough of a
loyal following around the globe to outrank roughly 1/3 of the planet’s
nations in terms of individual wealth. If you consider Google’s
net income, which is a more accurate measurement
in comparison to GDP, then this search engine
titan brings in more money per year than 114
nations of the world. These numbers and comparisons may be
staggering, but you must also consider that Google is only a single company out of
hundreds of multi-billion dollar corporations. Google isn’t the most wealthy
– not by a long shot. It doesn’t even make it into the Top
50 (#52, according to Forbes, 2013). The point is, the days of
thinking that the world is run by presidents, parliaments, dictatorships,
and democracies are over. Although we may not like to admit
it, money makes the world go round, and the significance of
business and industry are undeniable. Unlike nations, where citizenship
presupposes a certain amount of loyalty, the vast majority of global businesses
participate in a free market, meaning that people can pick and choose
which golden idol they want to worship. Competition is a cornerstone of commerce,
which means that companies are desperate to grow, influence, impress, and engage more
and more potential customers as possible. Certain companies seem to have found the
secrets to success, the magic words that cause millions of people to flock
to their doors, wallets in hand. Certain companies have the advantage
of supplying a necessary (or perceived as necessary) product, such as oil
companies and other energy providers, but the truly visionary
companies are those that are not “essential” in the
Maslowian sense of the word. The past two decades have seen
the astronomical rise of tech companies as the Digital Age
moved from dawn to daylight. Many of the most successful
and wealthy tech companies have rather
inspiring origin stories, but Google’s rise to dominance has been
particularly profound and thought-provoking. By largely throwing out the
model for successful business practices and reconstructing a
strategy for success from scratch, Google has been able to grow
faster and more efficiently than almost any company
(or country) in history. For that precise reason, millions of
hungry, eager eyes look to the company for inspiration on everything from
product design to company culture, but on a purely quantitative level, the
growth of Google is what fascinates people. This search engine, which
at first glance is no different than many
of its functionality competitors, has created an empire that
spans industries, oceans, and generations. In other words, it’s probably worth taking a
look under the hood to see what makes this ever-growing, modern-day giant so consistently
impressive, innovative, and successful. Dream Big: Be Big The scale of ambition is one of the most
immediately impressive things about Google. Although, to be fair, the concept
of a search engine is inherently ambitious – accumulating and
organizing the collective, ever-expanding knowledge of the human
race is a daunting task for any company. Many people think that Google
was the first search engine, but in fact, Google was nearly
six years late to that party. Companies like AltaVista, Excite, Yahoo!, and
Lycos were enabling people to search the World Wide Wed long before Larry Page and
Sergey Brin brought Google into the arena. However, as they have done time and
time again since that fateful step forward, Google went further than
any competitor had previously done. They widened their gaze and based
their search engine on real-world activity, crawling the web for
new content and ranking websites based on relevance, reliability, and
user feedback (in the form of clicks). Essentially, Google is
constantly adapting and changing based on what
users want and enjoy; the more than 150 million unique
Google searches each day perpetually customize and improve the accuracy
of the search engine results. This was the sort of ambitious
dream that Google began with, and while their initial version was
far simpler than the search engine monster that Google has
become nearly two decades later, their original vision is
what continues to drive them. They clearly operate under a
simple mantra – Dream Big. They don’t need to be the first
or the flashiest name in a given industry, but when they
choose to enter a given market, whether it is in telecommunications,
advertising, Cloud computing, or anything else, they do it
in grand, expansive fashion. Things are deemed impossible
because no one has ever done them, but the philosophy of Google argues
that everything is possible, but there are some things
that haven’t been done yet. Officially, Google’s mission
is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally
accessible and useful”, and they have dutifully held true to
that mission since their inception. Instead of improving on what they’ve already
accomplished, Google has always sought to find new areas where they can provide value
to their customers and loyal followers. For example, Gmail became the world’s
largest email service in less than a decade (it was launched in 2004), and now
boasts over 500 million active accounts. Rather than simply creating a competing
service and trying to chip away the market share of other companies
with a few shiny new services, Google deconstructed the idea of e-mail
and developed a simple, easy-to-use service with far more advanced functionality
than anything else on the market. The two most obvious issues with
other email providers that held back and frustrated users was storage
space and search capabilities. Google offered immediate
solutions, providing a gigabyte of storage for users, and access
to a web search function. Gmail also united all of
the other functions of Google, meaning that before
the age of app stores, Gmail was the central hub
where you could access all of your other Google-related
tools (Chat, Calendar, etc.). It wasn’t as if these were well-hidden
problems that companies were unaware of; these were glaring obstacles that
users complained about for years. For every problem, there is a solution
– and Google has consistently put its bold and presumably impossible solutions
into the ring in dramatic fashion, often knocking its opponents
out of contention. As business has risen in planetary
prominence, so too has advertising, like a strange, symbiotic
relationship on a global scale. Within the digital sphere, advertising
is now a $40 billion business, and an impressive percentage of that
is brought in by Google AdSense. What started as advertisements
inserted in Gmail has now grown into the
world’s largest ad network. It has opened up Internet advertising
to hundreds of thousands of content publishers who attract customers
to tailored website suggestions. It customizes its ads based on
user search history, keywords, purchase history, and any number
of other freely offered variables. The program has evolved and improved
over time, right alongside its parent company, remaining flexible,
subtle, and successful from Day One. Google doesn’t simply
create something and then let it exist until
it becomes obsolete; they continually respond and react
to user feedback and behavior to optimize their services and
ensure that at the end of the day, they are giving the people what they want. Companies trust AdSense
because it is run by Google, the unchallenged
“King of the Internet”, and the universal use and
availability of Google means that its ads have reached more
than 80% of the online world. E-commerce is projected to be a $1.5
trillion sector of the global economy. Many people argue that Google’s
AdSense, which has connected so many millions of consumers to businesses
through an efficient, non-spam approach, is largely to thank for the
massive growth of that economic sector, which barely
existed twenty years ago. In terms of what was discussed earlier,
this is the sort of global impact that corporations now have, if they have the
ambition and the infrastructure to achieve it. Google may have set out to be a
search engine, but it has become something far more powerful – a
central player in the online world. These examples are only a
small sample of Google’s unique approach to market
entry and innovation. Google Chrome, the Android platform,
and even Google Books (30 millions books scanned, and counting) all
sought to go bigger and better, defying expectations of failure
or futility, and solidifying Google’s growth in more and
more industries every year. Google is a paradigm of
diversification, spreading and growing across the
Internet, the stock market, and our global society’s collective
consciousness, but it does so in a way that users welcome, expect, and even demand, which is
where the true genius of the company lies. Overcompensate, Oversimplify,
and Overachieve The maxim of “under-promise
and over-deliver” is not exactly a
prophetic revelation; that old adage has been passed around
more conference rooms and dusty business school lecture halls
than this author cares to count. However, there is a reason that old
adages stick around for so many decades – they remain relevant,
no matter how times may change. Companies naturally create
expectations for their customers; the foundation of advertising
and commerce is the creation and achievement of
expectations for consumers. When a company develops a
reputation for something positive, it is essential to maintain that
level of success or approval. The struggle, of course,
lies in the constantly changing demands of
the consumer public; while this dynamism is
hardly a new phenomenon, it seems to be speeding
up in recent decades. The standards for instant gratification,
complete customer satisfaction, and overall Return on Investment
(of time, energy, resources, etc.) are continually raised,
because competitors will always be biting at the heels
of an industry leader. Everyone wants to knock out the champ. Many people look at search engines, email
providers, and telecommunication platforms as largely similar technologies
with small pros or cons that may draw
users to one or another. In terms of temporary success and a
quick buck, any company can bite out a corner of a market for a short
while with a single innovation or particular advancement in one
narrow area of functionality. To reach the truly elite levels
of success (and stay there), consistently thrilling your users
and customers is required. To accomplish that admirable
feat, it’s essential to understand another old adage –
the devil is in the details. Improving the user experience
is another bottom-line mantra for Google (they seem
to have a number of mantras). If it’s possible, then it should
be done, because when all is said and done, Google users are
the most important components. Their feedback, click patterns, purchase
frequency, and a dozen other behaviors comprise the data that Google uses
to continually improve its services. Just as the one between business
and international politics, Google and its users have formed
a symbiotic relationship, and Google is perennially dedicated
to holding up their end of the deal. The changes and improvements that Google
makes over the course of a day, a week, a month, or even a year may be
imperceptible to the average user, but that seamless and
unwavering delivery of superior functionality ticks an
unconscious box in its users. How often does a Google search fail to
bring up a result you’re happy with? Regardless of how disjointed
or unclear your search query is, doesn’t Google
manage to figure it out? Has it ever taken longer
than .5 seconds (provided you’re on a reliable
Internet connection)? The answer to those questions for 99.99% of
people on the planet is a resounding “no”. Granted, you may occasionally have
to readjust your search terms if they are truly off the mark and you
want your answer in the top result, but barring any legitimately
unrealistic expectations, the Google search engine
functions as a mind-reader. The search engine itself has evolved
its own industry-leading algorithm hundreds of times – every year
– since it was first released. There are a dozen or so
major changes each year, but the algorithm is
never the same for long. Perpetual growth and
improvement is the hallmark of Google’s
search engine dominance. The algorithm has become
so advanced that it is basically inseparable from
artificial intelligence. It not only learns a
user’s habits and utilizes search histories to
facilitate streamlined results, but it also reads search queries
as ideas, not collections of words. It interprets the jumbled search keyword
ramblings of college students and CEOs alike, determining what was intended
and what is most likely being sought. Many other search engines still spit out
results based on individual keywords, meaning that users may have to search
dozens of times with increasingly specific or customized search terms to
find the answers or results they desire. It’s no wonder that Google
dominates the search engine arena; high estimates propose that Google
handles ¾ of all online searches. Even with its high-level competitors,
those with similar predictive algorithms, Google still stands
head and shoulders above them. Google has reported the speed of
the results page deliver, and while it may not make a tangible
difference to individual users, reducing search time from .4
seconds to .2 seconds makes light-years of difference in the
grand scheme of the online world. Also, on a very subconscious level,
Google argues that any delay in the journey from search to
result disrupts productivity and leaves that split second of space for
someone to consider another search engine. While that may sound silly to
some (given that .2 seconds is slightly shorter than the
actual blink of an eye), it matters to Google engineers,
programmers, and algorithm designers. This overcompensation is what
keeps google ahead of the pack; it literally doesn’t
allow their users’ minds time to think of trying
a competing service. A poor user experience
can be just as damaging to a company as a poor
product or service. Slow generation of a
results page might cause users to question
Google’s reliability, but aggressive or distracting ads
can threaten users’ interest or preference for Google’s
overall aesthetic experience. The simplicity of Google is legendary; for many years, their search
engine page has remained remarkably stark, empty, and
focused on one thing – searching. Although Google has its fingers
in the pots of a dozen industries, it also knows when
to focus on a single thing. For millions of users, Google’s
search function is the single most important aspect of their
relationship with the company. The search page isn’t
cluttered with unwanted ads or extraneous messages
from the company; the average number of actual words on
Google’s home page is usually less than 40. As the famous French poet and
designer, Jean Cocteau, once said – “Style is a simple way
of saying complicated things”. Google may not seem like the
most stylish company out there, as search engines
aren’t inherently sexy, but when it comes to doing
impressively complicated things in a simple way, no one is better
than Brin and Page’s creation. Their perpetual drive to
overcompensate, oversimplify, and overachieve is an inspiration
to companies around the world. Google continues to grow because it is
always one step ahead of the competition. Even when the company does suffer
a setback, or is faced with a new competitor, they simply
work their way back to the top. They keep their promises
to their customers, while continuing to raise the bar
in every industry they enter. Empower Your Empire In the past, companies generally had
a recognizable shape – a pyramid. Hierarchical systems have been the norm
for thousands of years in our society. From political structures and
military organizations to corporate entities and monarchies, hierarchies
can be seen everywhere. This sort of top-down leadership has evolved
over the past century or so, but there are still constructs that inevitably make their
way into the vast majority of companies. Even in liberal, open-plan
philosophies, there is some level of control or authority, a manager to
report to, a creative director, an innovation guide…
whatever a company calls it, there is still some vestige
of that old hierarchy, perhaps wrapped up in a different title
and a different superficial structure. Companies so often purport
themselves to be innovative, or to be using a new type
of management structure that enables more productivity and
individual ambition, but there are many businesses that try to
lure talent with false freedom and are still restrictive,
competitive, cannibalistic, and ultimately wracked by the same
problems as Old School hierarchies. Google, as has already been discussed
in earlier sections, is a company that backs up its promises, and that
doesn’t only apply to its customers; employees are the key variable
that makes Google a success, so every effort is made to
liberate their creativity, utilize their potential, and
empower them to new heights for the benefit of the company
and the world at large. The hiring process of Google
is one of the most intense in the business, and with
approximately 1,500 applications coming into Google’s mailbox
every day, they have the cream of the global
crop to choose from. However, Google’s hiring practices aren’t
directed at a single ideal candidate; Google understands that to
achieve global coverage and dominance in their
various industries, they need a diverse
group of engineers and innovators that will
think in different ways, identify problems that others might miss,
and find solutions from new directions. Having a wide pool of
talent and specialization means that establishing a
formal work structure, reporting schedule, or
hierarchical oversight would be foolish,
and unproductive. Instead, Apple empowers their
employees to be their own managers, removing an entire level
of the traditional hierarchy and simply allowing groups of workers to
form project teams with rotating leadership positions based on personal specialty
or experience with a given subject. Collaboration is king. Most of these teams are
groups of three engineers who have full control
over their own projects. When they identify problems, they take
necessary steps to fix it, even if the issue is with a product or service
that has been previously launched. Google spends nearly
100 “Google-hours” training and preparing
each of their employees, who have already proven themselves
to be some of the brightest, most innovative, and exceptional
minds in the field. Some are academic stars of the
world’s finest universities, while others are dark-horse start-up
geniuses who never applied to college. Google doesn’t care where
their employees come from; they care about what each team
member brings to the table. After investing so much time in
choosing and preparing their employees, Google places a high level of trust in
their decision-making capabilities. Furthermore, the transparency between
departments and the information-sharing of the company’s executive
leadership makes every employee a knowledgeable, essential, and
respected part of the company. Their fundamental function for
millions of people around the world is to share information
faster and in more efficient ways; it would be rather hypocritical
if they didn’t design their internal communication network
with a similar goal in mind. The content of quarterly board meetings
are shared with Google’s more than 25,000 employees, and they are shown the exact same
things as the shareholders and executives; Google doesn’t need to hide anything. Open communication and honest
discussion of ideas, plans, projects, and new ventures is something Google
promotes, not actively prevents. For that reason, they believe that their
employees should understand just as much about the vision and the direction
of the company as the executive team; after all, the engineers, designers,
and innovators are the ones doing the legwork to turn major
company ambitions into reality. Beyond these project teams that
run and monitor themselves, Google is also a big fan
of “blue sky thinking”, pursuing new, occasionally outlandish
ideas and seeing how far they can go. Progress is not about
playing it safe, and that implicit trust that
Google places in its thousands of employees allows them to pursue
their own projects with “20 Percent Time”. This program has become a widely admired
and emulated system that essentially gives employees one free day per week to work on
whatever new projects or dreams they want. Google’s revolutionary driverless cars, which
have logged over 750,000 miles without an accident in these early testing stages
of this fascinating new technology. This was a pet project
of some of the engineers out in Palo Alto that
has put Google into one of the most exciting and potentially
lucrative industries in the coming decades. Without the flexibility and empowerment
of those employees, Google wouldn’t have nearly as many projects in the works
or even on the cutting room floor. Sergey Brin’s breakdown of focus
is 70% search and advertising, 20% in strong potential products,
and 10% in new innovations. This simple division of
attention and resources within the company hasn’t changed
much in recent years, and it provides the foundation for
continuous capital flow and an attractive environment that draws top
talent from numerous relevant fields. By granting employees freedom to
explore their own ideas, providing all of the necessary information
for their assigned tasks, and constantly seeking out
new data and customer feedback to improve innovations
to the user experience, Google has essentially
deconstructed the corporate hierarchy and made every
employee a potential leader. As someone’s idea grows, their
position within the company does too; however, while this may lead to
detrimental competition in other companies, employees of Google are
a special, collaborative breed. They are devout believers in Google’s
mission, obsessed with improvement and intensely devoted to innovation,
more so than personal gain or glory. Google is able to sustain their
growth because every piece of their complex corporate
puzzle can be impactful; there is no telling where the
next spark of brilliance may occur, nor what interesting
new fires it will start. Maintaining this balance of leadership,
creative vision, and perpetually motivated employees means that the company is truly
greater than the sum of its parts, because it has some of the most unique
and empowered parts in the business. Pick Your Battles, Choose Your Allies When it comes to
dominance of the digital sphere, Google does not
completely stand alone. Yes, certain products and
services of the company lead their respective sphere and
have done so for many years, but there are other newer ventures where
Google has taken hits and had to go into the proverbial trenches with other tech
giants, like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. Google is so comprehensive and
widespread in its activities that it often faces competition from numerous
industry challengers at once, something that niche
companies or more one-directional organizations
don’t struggle with. Competing for attention and
traffic is something that every company deals with, but Google
has to handle advertising, social media platforms, telecommunications,
software, hardware, app platforms, and every other industry
that they’re delving into. No matter how big,
ambitious, or wealthy Google becomes, it can’t field every
battle with competitors; a wise company knows how
to be patient, learn from the mistakes of others,
and offer something legitimately competitive
or advanced when you do enter the market with a
new product or service. When a company has as many facets
and interconnected parts, it can be difficult to choose where
to push and where to hold back, but again, the data collection
strategies and perpetual development on every platform and product
pushes them in the right direction. The tech industry has been in a complex
arms race for over a decade, and it has only become more intense since
the advent of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and phablets –
and will likely grow more urgent and competitive
with whatever comes next. As seems to be its style, Google entered
a number of markets slightly behind Apple, and while Steve Jobs’ visionary
corporation received much of the glory, Google quietly climbed into contention
with oftentimes more streamlined, less expensive, and more functional options for
markets like smart phones and tablets. Instead of going head-to-head with
Apple’s loyal following, Google added something that Apple couldn’t, and
acquired the Android platform, which greatly increased the
functionality and convenience of all their products
for loyal Google users. In a sense, Google changed the
battlefield, and didn’t make it about who could make a sleeker smartphone
or a sexier package design; they were far more concerned
with what the actual usage patterns of the
products were going to be. They tailored their “rebuttal” products and
platforms to more accurately predict their customers’ needs, and this consideration won
them a significant portion of the market. This discerning nature of when to rise
to a “battle” is coupled with extremely wise acquisitions, even in seemingly
unrelated or “random” industries. When a company is large enough, it
has the economic wiggle room to make large acquisitions when a program or
company is just coming to fruition, even if the viability is unknown or
widespread proof of value doesn’t exist. Google purchased YouTube, AdMob,
Motorola Mobility, Applied Semantics, and even Nest, a smoke
detector and thermostat company. Many of these billion-dollar purchases
seemed unrelated to Google at the time, but as different elements of the tech world
become more and more interconnected, there is no telling what puzzle pieces
companies might be looking to find. Regarding that final acquisition,
Nest Labs, made by Google in early 2014 for a cool $3.2 billion,
Larry Page, CEO of Google, didn’t justify it in terms of what
company they were getting, but rather what people they were
welcoming into the Google family. Google has picked its partners
remarkably well, and company acquisitions are more like job
applications on a much larger scale. The team at Nest Labs, some of whom began
their careers of innovation at Apple Inc., effectively became Google team
members when Nest Labs was acquired. Visionary design and creativity
are rarely applicable to a single industry, and by spreading the acquired
talent throughout the company, Google is strengthening
its entire infrastructure with each
subsequent purchase. Since 2010, Google has purchased
an average of one company per week, ranging from a few million
dollars to over $12.5 billion. This is their other way of
avoiding future head-to-head competitions with major industry
players – simply buy them first. Google founders never forgot
that they were just two guys in a garage in the
early days of their empire, and they are not arrogant
enough to think that the next generation won’t produce
similar success stories. The executive team at Google
carefully monitors developments in the business world and buttresses
itself against future pressure by giving many of those companies a
golden ticket – being affiliated, owned, and protected by the
undisputed king of the Internet. Google knows that competition
is healthy, but it also can be distracting, disruptive, and detrimental
to a company’s bottom line. By turning potential enemies
into allies and using smaller, innovative companies as veritable
incubators of great talent, they skip some of the slow drudgery of
seeking out and shaping top employees. It’s a win-win situation for
everyone involved, and Google continues to lure the best minds
that the world has to offer. Explore, Engage, Experiment There are certain tech companies that put
a lot of stock in flash and panache; they spend excessive amounts of
time and energy creating a mystique or an exclusivity to their products
that is inherently attractive. The legendary secrecy and
meticulous attention to detail of Apple Inc. comes
to mind immediately; Steve Jobs was famous for finding and
eliminating every possible mistake or obsolete element of his products,
obsessively dedicated to perfection. When he revealed the content of his company’s
brilliance, he wanted it to be in full workable condition, with every possible
question answered and contingency considered. Apple also values its privacy
above all other things; leaks and unwanted
revelations of what’s coming next have always been a
problem for that company. Google has found success in a
much different way, integrating its users into the developmental
process as much as possible and finding errors based on real
user experience and feedback, rather than brainstorming every possible
issue in corporate think tanks. One of Google’s many philosophies is
to see the world as their laboratory. If their services are meant to exist
and flourish in the real world, then that is where the ideas should be tested,
stressed, explored, and improved. Google doesn’t believe in barring the doors
to anyone without an employee keycard; in fact, they welcome anyone
to add, utilize, and even code programs using their core
processing infrastructure. That may sound like madness for any
company to allow the average person to get close to their intellectual
property – Apple’s worst nightmare – and yet Google operates under the assumption
that with the proper regulations in place, they shouldn’t restrict their platform to
Google-designed and -inspired functions. Despite Google’s exhaustive efforts
to find top talent, there will always be prodigies and lightbulb moments
that Google wants to be a part of. By allowing users to
piggyback on much of their functionality, Google
is far more likely to already be implemented
on the ground floor of new projects of which
they were not even aware. For example, Google Earth was a
pioneering step forward for public GPS technologies and gave us a
new way to look at our world; if Google had closed that technology and not
allowed it to be implemented in new and ever more informative ways, then what good
is creating such a brilliant technology? Amateur computer programmers and
hackers alike can re-appropriate Google’s basic platforms
and use them in new ways, such as mapping the potential
impact of increased sea levels from global warming, or even as
a tool for disaster response, environmental protection,
and awareness-raising of threats from urban sprawl. These were not projects conducted
or released by Google; they simply released their fundamental
technology and allowed the world to play, explore, and evolve their
ideas into even greater achievements. Google has turned millions of
users into a global development team that works far beyond
the bounds of Google Earth. Their mobile platform, Android, has
inspired millions of would-be developers around the globe to design their apps
and products with Google in mind. There are over 1.3 million
apps developed for the Android platform by outside developers
using Google’s platform as a foundation and utilizing the company’s
welcome support and resources to do so. Developers work in a
“sandbox”, meaning that they have limited access to a
specific area of the system, unless they receive express consent
and security clearance to dive deeper into Google’s coding, so the tech giant’s
core system remains well-protected. Hundreds of different products are
now also designed to be compatible with Android, so the dependence
on Google grows every day, and the ideas continue to
flow from the best source of free ingenuity on the
planet – creative users. Between Google’s developer’s kit and the
Android SDK (Software Developer Kit), the company is making it easier than ever to
become an active part of the community, and that inclusiveness spurs
growth, interest, and loyalty that other companies have to
achieve through fewer avenues, such as great customer service
or superior products. Google is welcoming, a
universally accessible and increasingly compatible way
of accessing online content, maintaining connectivity
between all of your devices, and contributing your
own ideas to the world. Google counts on this interactivity
and user contribution to grow in an inexpensive
and user-friendly way, without taking on the
responsibility of designing hundreds of thousands
of individual programs. Google has been criticized in the past
for its unique approach to beta-testing, which is quite different than the heavily
guarded tradition of beta testing for most companies that produce
intellectual property. Google, however, often rolls out
unfinished or nearly finished products to large groups of users and asks them
to report back on functionality bugs. Sometimes these are early releases
of products about to be opened up to the general public, while other times
they are apps, programs, or updates from Google for which they
want immediate feedback. While this form of crowdsourced beta
testing makes some companies take a step back, Google stands behind the
trial-and-error nature of their strategy. When the tangible and
intangible barriers between a company and its
customers are eliminated, it promotes immediate growth by instantly
attracting a new base of users, supporters, creators, developers, and
aspiring partners to your brand. Keeping all of your secrets
locked in an ivory tower may increase the buzz and
mystery around your company, but it won’t necessarily establish
long-term loyalty or guarantee growth. That is where Google has
excelled in recent years, and where it will likely continue
succeeding into the future. Journeys are Perfect, Not Destinations To remain at the top of
anything, be it a local market, a niche field,
or a globe-spanning industry, requires some
level of understanding and acceptance that
failure is inevitable. No matter how perfectly coded or designed
something may be, it is essential to remember that mistakes will always arise –
there will always be ghosts in the machine. Google is perhaps the greatest
success story of our times, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes
– and big ones – from time to time. Have you ever heard of Google Lively? Or Dodgeball, which was purchased
at the same time as Android? What about Google Buzz? Obviously, things like Gmail, Google+,
Android, and Google Maps are part of our collective consciousness because
they are widely used and loved, but there are probably more failures under
Google’s belt than home-run successes. This is because Google works
in uncharted territory; as mentioned, Google looks for the
empty spaces in the market, filling the needs of people before they
even realize they need something. This is an inherently unpredictable
process, and sometimes, real-world roll outs don’t go nearly as well
as the designers at Google expect. That is partially the reason for the
unique approach to beta testing discussed earlier, but is also a foundational
aspect of the company as a whole. The company may bring in
revenue and new users through their successes,
but many of those revolutionary ideas and services have earlier
failures to thank for even existing. Fail often, but fail early and fail wisely. Google may be bold and ambitious,
but it is far from foolish. They carefully monitor their larger
ventures, and when a certain threshold of invested time and
resources has been crossed, they ask themselves serious
questions about the reality of this new idea ever
seeing the light of day. The company doesn’t
pour endless amounts of money into projects that
continue to stumble; they pause, readjust,
and either scrap the project or transform it
into something else. However, it is important to
fail early, before the venture becomes a real black eye, both to
the public and Google’s wallet (speaking of Google Wallet,
that Paypal-like service was one of the company’s
most notable failures). Failing wisely is really where Google excels,
and many of its now-forgotten projects were re-engineered and re-branded into
something we recognize and love today. For example, Google Buzz is seen by many
industry professionals as a rough evolutionary step towards Google+, which now has
approximately 400 million active users. Making mistakes is a never
a bad thing, as any good entrepreneur or business
professional will tell you, provided that something can be learned
or taken away from the failure. This ability to bounce back from
failures and use those traditional low points as fodder for future greatness
is one of Google’s great strengths. If a company allows setbacks to discourage
future risk-taking, they should probably just close their doors and cut their losses,
because all progress requires risk. Google is actively trying (and
succeeding in many cases) to change the world, and that change is not always
going to come without a fight. Take Google Glass, for example,
a potentially revolutionary new technology that has seemingly
limitless applications. However, interest in
Google Glass has waned, and what was potentially
going to be the next evolutionary step forward
in personal computing and telecommunications
has largely stalled. This is obviously disappointing for the
search giant, but at the same time, their ambitious project has started the
ball rolling into the next generation. The avid supporters of the technology,
as well as its vocal critics, popularized the idea to millions of
people, if not the product itself. I have no doubt that owning a
Google Glass-inspired product will become the new normal
within the next decade, and much of its success will hinge
on eliminating the inadequacies of its ancestral product and
improving the marketing approach. Failures are too often seen as
write-offs, things to move past and forget, but the cutting-room floor
of the world’s top companies are littered with brilliance,
perhaps developed too early, not approached properly, or not fully
pursued to their natural end. For every Gmail, there is a SearchWiki –
and Google wants to keep it that way. As a search engine, Google
understands that nothing is perfect. An algorithm will never
exist that produces the precisely desired result
for every search; imperfection is unavoidable. The pursuit of perfection,
therefore, is never-ending. They encourage their employees to
pursue their own ideas, make their own mistakes, and apply the knowledge
gained to the next shot-in-the-dark. When 25,000 people start
dreaming, a lot of unicorns and impossible visions come to the
surface, and these often fail. However, when 25,000
people start dreaming, truly amazing things can
also be discovered. Google counts on failures to grow
their business just as much as their successes, because failures form
the foundation for their future. Essentially, you have
no way of knowing what works unless you also
know what doesn’t. I’m Feeling Lucky This search engine turned
global game-changer understands that for every empire that
rises, another falls. As they continue to grow in more
unpredictable and life-altering ways, other companies will either
find a way to compete or bow out. Larry Page and Sergey Brin
haven’t forgotten their roots, however, and know
that somewhere in the world, future innovators are pouring
their morning coffee, dreaming of the next big thing, or even playing
with their parents’ tablet. The leadership and loyal ranks of
Google represent one of the most concentrated groups of intellectual
talent and creative energy in the world, but they never discount
the element of luck. They were lucky to have
reached such great heights – countless things could have
tripped them up in the past, and as their project
become bolder and more high-stakes, they could still
trip up in the future. That is why the company remains so
firm in its vision, so passionate in its development, and so active in
dozens of industries around the world. Google isn’t ready to
get comfortable and rest on its laurels, of
which there are many. Like a search engine shark, it
must either move forward or die. That being said, given the growth
factors that Google demonstrates in everything they do, from customer
interaction to hiring practices, they show no signs of
stopping or reaching a point of obsolescence
for many years to come. Google has become a part of our lives, a
go-to when we’re stumped about… anything, and a reliable provider of more novelties
and services than we even realize. It has not only grown in size,
but also in significance, and that is where the
long-lasting value lies. If Google disappeared
from the world today, competitors would rise to
fill those market gaps, many of which Google
created and filled simultaneously, but it
would never be the same. Just as a country can’t be wiped
off the map, neither can Google. Branding wars can be fought,
digital arms races can escalate, but the impact of a
company that injects itself so comprehensively and beneficially into
global culture can never be erased. As long as the company continues
to protect its borders, while still expanding into
the uncharted future, then it will continue to be an essential
part of our global conscience. If you don’t believe me…just Google it.

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