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Journey to the Center Of Google
Brett_Tabke




msg:1233852
 3:22 am on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Fascinating read on Google history - twice:
[men.style.com...]

Tipped off by John B: [battellemedia.com...]

 

Liane




msg:1233853
 5:45 am on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good article, but the use of the term "the boys" is very condescending. Those "boys" are two of the brightest men in modern history. They have changed the world ... (for the better) and made countless people very wealthy in the process, including a lot of webmasters and SEO practitioners.

They had a vision which they were able to achieve and they managed to assemble an excellent team to help them do it. They were further able to convince the big guns to invest in their company and still maintain control.

I think a little respect is in order, despite their unconventional methods. I don't think Einstein was considered "conventional" either, but I doubt even his most avid detractors would have treated him like a child when he refused to give up on his theory of relativity.

Good for them for sticking to their guns and doing things in a way which they could live with. They earned their success and deserve the respect of not only their peers but also their elders ... including the big guns whom they helped to become even bigger guns!

vitaplease




msg:1233854
 8:47 am on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

..a company’s genetic code gets set in its first eighteen months. “After that,” he said, “companies are impossible to change; their cultures are hardwired in. If the DNA is right, you’re golden. If not, you’re screwed.”

I'd say there is a lot to be said for that, at least for fast growing companies.

internetheaven




msg:1233855
 3:15 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

and made countless people very wealthy in the process, including a lot of webmasters and SEO practitioners.

Are you saying that the 150million searches wouldn't be performed if Google didn't exist?

Fair enough saying that they have made their own employees very rich but I think its unfair to imagine that Google are the reason behind my own success as a webmaster. They have the largest "market share" of searches - that doesn't mean that they created those searches.

As for them being brilliant and market leaders I think the next couple of years will really show the true colours of Google as they are forced into more commercialism. They grew because they were popular, they were popular because they had created something useful, it was useful because it gave you the results you were searching for .... now lets watch them reverse that pattern and turn into the next Overture ....

Tapolyai




msg:1233856
 5:22 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

A great find, albeit a slightly odd place...

I always take comfort in knowing that even billionaire and genius boys can be clutzes (sp?). They are human, and act human despite the distance they are from the rest of the bell curve...

You are going to get a stroke if you try to be PC too often. ;-)

gomer




msg:1233857
 5:49 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Amazing article with incredible insights into Google, thanks Brett.

Rachel




msg:1233858
 6:33 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Personally, that article raises my opinion of the people running Google. I've always had a soft spot for men/women who can't abide authority, go their own way, make their own decisions, and the consequences be damned. It might be a little "childish", but at least they were thinking for themselves and weren't blindly following the crowd.

MarkHutch




msg:1233859
 6:40 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now that Google is public, they will have all kinds of investors that want nothing but growth from their stock. Any sign that the company is not growing as fast as they would like and the stock will suffer.

In my opinion, this is what causes many good companies to go bad. The attitude to grow at all cost, will eventually make good hearted people start doing the wrong thing for a quick buck to make the investors happy. Once a company starts down that road, then it's just a matter of time before they start doing tricky things each quarter, just to make sure the company meets Wall Street expectations.

It will be interesting to see how long Google will be able to do the right thing when their stockholders and investors are only interested in short term profit.

jimbeetle




msg:1233860
 6:44 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

I always enjoy reading Heilemann's work and, as usual, he did a superb job here. Straightforward reporting, well researched and sourced, a great behind the scenes look at G's DNA.

I think the Moritz quote that vitaplease pulled out above ("If the DNA is right, you’re golden. If not, you’re screwed.") is very important to the story and to G's future. Do "the boys" still need "adult" supervision? A firmer hand? Maybe not while the stock is still flirting with a $200 per share price, you can't argue with that success. In the future though, if tough decisions have to be made, they might best be taken from the business side, and not by the engineers.

It's going to be very interesting to see how the Google culture matures, growing from a free-wheeling operation into a fully-fledged, disciplined business enterprise, while keeping all that free-ranging creativity a-buzz inside the 'Plex.

Namaste




msg:1233861
 9:27 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

the power of VC culture. Shows how important it is to get a good VC who not only invests but guides young companies

MoneyMan




msg:1233862
 10:01 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Great read, thanks for posting it Brett.

They have the largest "market share" of searches - that doesn't mean that they created those searches

To some extent, i would assert they did.

Would the mass market adoption of search happened by the general public if the SERP relevancy was the same prior to G's integration of the PR algo? While I'm sure advances would have eventually come along, it's fair to say that G forced a leap in quality of SERP that gave the market a reason to use SE's rather than other sources avaliable.

Similar to what MS did for the explosion of personal computers. If there hadn't been the mass adoption of a standard platform, its also fair to say the proliferation of software development and thus the reasons for owning a personal computer would not have grown at the rate it did.

I'm sure this could be a hotly debated topic, just MHO.

docbird




msg:1233863
 1:42 am on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

I also think they’re growing. Not growing up—I hate it when people call them ‘the boys.’ Please don’t ever put those words in my mouth. I don’t think of them that way. And if I ever did, I sure don’t anymore.”

John Doerr, one of the company’s venture-capital investors (Oops! - my betting is he wishes he could delete that from tape/notebook)

article mentions how they
met Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney—and presented her with a Slinky

maybe, too, writer knows more than the going against received wisdom approach, to bolster his use of "the boys". As he suggests, we'll learn more come crunch time for google.

Liane




msg:1233864
 1:54 am on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are you saying that the 150million searches wouldn't be performed if Google didn't exist?

Yes, I am! Before Google started returning very relevant results (and I am not referring to search results today - that's another matter) ... there weren't nearly as many people using the internet on a daily basis to source information. Google provided the venue and created the demand which both MSN and Yahoo were not able to produce.

They revolutionized search and because of these two students with a brilliant concept, MSN and Yahoo and every other "wanna be" in the world is chasing them and trying to catch up.

stubnolez




msg:1233865
 8:53 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

“Don’t be evil” the corporate motto.
Enough said.

activeco




msg:1233866
 9:26 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

They revolutionized search and because of these two students with a brilliant concept, MSN and Yahoo and every other "wanna be" in the world is chasing them and trying to catch up.

Not at all. They didn't invent anything revolutionary.
And number of internet searches has nothing to do with Google being brilliant or something.
Switching from Altavista or Yahoo to Google was a pure quality advantage, nothing new.

Yes, they are still my favorite SE, but with very narrow margin. The others have been catching up in a speedy pace.

twinsrul




msg:1233867
 9:45 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good article, but the use of the term "the boys" is very condescending. Those "boys" are two of the brightest men in modern history. They have changed the world ... (for the better) and made countless people very wealthy in the process, including a lot of webmasters and SEO practitioners.

I wonder what these "bright" men are going to do once the bubble bursts. Hope they're smart enough to sell some of their shares now.

SlyOldDog




msg:1233868
 9:52 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

So why were they brilliant businessmen again?

From reading that article it seems google would never have made a profit if things had stayed the way they wanted it.

incrediBILL




msg:1233869
 10:23 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Those "boys" are two of the brightest men in modern history

Maybe some day I'll get so smart I'll plant my butt in a plateful of crème fraîche.

Something to look forward to.

karmov




msg:1233870
 10:41 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

“Don’t be evil” the corporate motto.
Enough said.

Don't forget the qualifying ramark

Schmidt would say, “Evil is what Sergey says is evil.”

There's a lot there. Don't be evil is kind of hard to qualify in and of itself, but then to base it on what one person sees as evil or not. History is full of people who mistakenly thought they were doing the right thing from their perpective.

I hope that the fact that there's three of them involved in most decision will keep them close to the straight and narrow that they're trying for.

Liane




msg:1233871
 3:21 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not at all. They didn't invent anything revolutionary.

So ... the last 3 or 4 years have been a figment of my imagination? Where the heck were Yahoo or MSN in all that time and exactly what did they achieve in the area of search advancement? They did virtually nothing!

In the meantime, Google brought quality search results to almost every household in the free world while Inktomi faltered with technical difficulties and almost withered on the vine. Google created a huge demand for search ... and they delivered the results.

Page rank definitely was a revoluntionary concept and it worked rather well for quite a while. "Semantic algorithms", "hilltop" combined with various filters (both good and bad), "image search", "froogle" and more. How can you say they didn't invent anything revolutionary? Please!

Unless Sergey and Larry had done what they did ... who knows where the "search" industry would be today? Still mired in hopelessly useless results is my guess. That is not to say that I think they are putting their best foot forward at this exact moment in time ... but at least they are trying everything they can to make search even better on a daily basis.

Until only a few weeks ago, MSN was next to hopeless and Yahoo (Inktomi) lost its grip on search years ago. OK ...both are working on it ... but they are playing a serious game of catch up ... they aren't exactly the lead horse in the race!

I could spend hours and hours fact checking in order to provide a detailed account of recent history and what has transpired in the past 5 or 6 years on the search front ... but if your memory is that short, then no amount of detail will help.

However, this list from a "not so old" notebook may help you remember the landscape from just a few years back:

Yahoo, MSN, Alta Vista, Excite, Hot Bot, AOL, Snap, Canada.com, Find Rex, Ask Jeeves (Ask), Search King, Fast (AlltheWeb), Infoseek, Infospace, whatUseek, Anzwers, Teoma, Lycos, Goto (Overture), Go, Mamma, About, Splash, Northern Lights, Dogpile, search.com, Info Tiger, webcrawler, Netscape, metacrawler, Scrub, Wisenut ... the list goes on and on!

Remember when we had to submit our sites to these engines and wait up to 6 months or longer to be included in the database?

Today, sites are often indexed within 24 hours of launch. Who did that first? Yahoo? MSN? ... I don't think so!

For years and years, MSN just sat back and did nothing while using Inktomi results, which, while they were doing "a job" they were not doing "the job".

Inktomi was by far the major supplier of search results 5 or 6 years ago. Over the years, they supplied Yahoo, MSN, Hot Bot and many, many others. They gave it their best shot, but fell behind in 2000/2001 after their index became hopelessly spammed by porn sites through various submission portals and they've never really regained the ground lost.

Google snatched the Yahoo contract away from Inktomi ... which was a major coo for this young start up company at the time. In fact calling it a major coo is a vast understatement! This was a massive victory! Who do you think swung that deal?

I don't think anyone can honestly argue the point that with the exception of some short term lapses and reversals, Google has, for the past 5 years been "the" mover and shaker in the search arena.

As much as I may be ticked off with the current state of Google's search results (though I will again state that my own site is doing well) ... I can't give them enough credit for what they have done for the modern world.

I have complete faith that although they may be undergoing major growing pains with their algorithm, I truly believe it is in the interest of finding a better algorithm. Trial and error is what its all about. If you don't make mistakes and learn from them, you cannot advance.

My head hurts ... I haven't had to dredge up memories of "the good old days" for quite a while! :)

gomer




msg:1233872
 4:45 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

A few more thoughts on "don't be evil".

Just as long as evil doesn't affect the bottom line.

Shortly after the Sept. 9 launch of Google's (GOOG) site for searching Chinese news outlets, it was revealed that the search kingpin is voluntarily excluding several sites banned by China's Internet censors.

[businessweek.com...]

There are many companies that would give in to the pressure of chasing big dollars in huge markets... but at least they don't go on with this "don't be evil" crap.

Double shame on you Google.

Sharper




msg:1233873
 5:59 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

What do you get when you buy a share of Google stock?

Not dividends, they stated up front that they weren't going to EVER pay any.

Not ownership of the company, the "boys" and their closest buddies retain a different set of stock with special voting rights that ensure them eternal complete control.

So about the only thing you are buying is a chance to speculate that the stock will go up because of demand from some other sucker so you can eventually sell it to someone else.

Sometimes I wonder if some of the people buying in the stock market even know the definition of what a stock is. :)

Don't get me wrong, I love Google and make a lot of money from their existance.

However, their IPO has got to be one of the biggest cases of making Billions from selling intrinsically worthless pieces of paper since the invention of paper money. For that feat alone these guys are financial geniuses of the first rank.

limitup




msg:1233874
 6:11 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

They created a search engine that worked well and caught on. If a company/product becomes a household name and then they decide to go public, of course there's going to be a lot of hype surrounding the IPO. That doesn't make them financial geniuses.

The only financial geniuses are the people shorting GOOG lol

MarkHutch




msg:1233875
 6:21 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

The only financial geniuses are the people shorting GOOG lol

Interesting thing about shorting a stock like Google. You might get rich, but the risk of losing a fortune in the process is a real possibility. I doubt if there are any folks left that shorted Google on it's first few days. They have all licked their wounds and moved on. You've got to be very rich or have a margin account from heaven to continue to short a stock that keeps going up day after day and month after month. :)

activeco




msg:1233876
 12:54 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Page rank definitely was a revoluntionary concept and it worked rather well for quite a while. "Semantic algorithms", "hilltop" combined with various filters (both good and bad), "image search", "froogle" and more. How can you say they didn't invent anything revolutionary? Please!

No, PR was not revolutionary at all, neither was it "invented" by Google.
Eugene Garfield, William Goffman, Jon Kleinberg, Sougata Mukerjea, Peter Pirolli, James Pitkow and especially Ron Weiss, Bienvenido Velez, Mark Sheldon, Chanatip Manprempre, Peter Scilagyi, David Gifford and Andrzej Duda (which finalized the concept of "hierarchical network search engine that exploits content-link hypertext clustering"), are the real inventors of something new in nature.
They are all rightly recognized as the decisive influence in Google's PR work.

Hilltop was brought to light as a variation of other connectivity based algorithms (so nothing esentially new), by Krishna Bharat (working for Compaq at the time) and George Mihaila (from University of Toronto).

Many other new Google "gadgets" came as a result of pure money spending needs.
After going public, they raised the money for... what?
They couldn't use all the money for significantly improving web search so they needed expansion into another related areas.
It seems it's going well for them in those areas too and I hope they will survive as "the boys" are good guys after all. Yes, I am very supportive for the "do no evil" and "f*ck greed" philosophy.

Google created a huge demand for search ... Unless Sergey and Larry had done what they did ... who knows where the "search" industry would be today?

Please do not exaggerate.
Almost the same as saying that Microsoft has invented anything.
Google was the logical answer to higher demands of net community. It is/was a natural process.
If not Google then someone else would take the position.
Again, it was not some bright new invention which revolutionized some aspect of our lives.
They perfected already widely used technique(s), nothing else.

incrediBILL




msg:1233877
 6:12 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google created a huge demand for search ... Unless Sergey and Larry had done what they did ... who knows where the "search" industry would be today?

Oh how people so easily forget that back in the day AltaVista was all the rage, and then Inktomi was the next hot thing, then Google bumped them both out. There was always a demand for search, Google just came up with better results than the others. Does that make them geniuses or the others complacent? I'll opt for the others became complacent and Google stepped in and took their business away from them just like Microsoft does to everyone else.

Now MSN search is looking like they're getting their act together and if I was Google I would be afraid, very afraid, as Microsoft has never been a company with short term goals. If Microsoft doesn't succeed initially they just keep pounding on it until they take a significant market share in whatever they are going after.

If you don't think this is the case, Microsoft has slowly but surely overtaken industry leaders in many fields, they are the slow tortoise that consistently wins the race.

Example:

- Novell once WAS networking, now they are a has been player still making noise.
- Lotus 123 once WAS the spreadsheet, now it's a give away application to sell computers
- Word Perfect once WAS word processing, all professionals had to have it, now it's second rate
- Netscape once WAS the browser, and are now scraping to get back 10% of the industry they created
- cc:Mail once WAS the corporate email, and MS bought their competitor and MS Mail buried them

I could go on and on and on, but someday within the next 5-10 years it wouldn't surprise me to add to this list:

- Google once WAS the top search engine....

SlyOldDog




msg:1233878
 4:12 pm on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Don't forget supercalc and Dbase.

mackandy




msg:1233879
 1:32 am on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I must agree with incrediBILL.

Although i don't like it, Bill G has been incredibly smug recently, slagging off exisisting search offerings, saying big things are on the way.

Cause of his track record, something big in search may happen soon.

You must admit; everything he's saying is slagging off search as we know it, and he's usually a winner!

Is it a bluff?

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