18 years ago today, in 1997, the Google.com domain name was registered signalling the birth of what was to become not just the Internet’s most widely used search engine, but a vastly influential multi-national conglomeration.
To celebrate its birthday, we have compiled a brief history of Google, looking at some of the business’ key moments and achievements.
In 1995, Larry Page and Sergey Brin meet at Stanford University aged 22 and 21 respectively and begin collaborating a search engine called BackRub in ‘96. BackRub has been operating on Stanford servers for more than a year but eventually starts taking up too much bandwidth.
The pair register Google.com as a domain on 15th September 1997. The name is a play on the word "googol", a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros and reflects Larry and Sergey's mission to organise a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.
In 1998, Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim writes a check for $100,000 to an entity that doesn't exist yet. Google files for incorporation in California. Larry and Sergey open a bank account in the newly established company's name and deposit Andy Bechtolsheim's cheque.
"PC Magazine" reports that Google "has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results" and recognises Google as the search engine of choice in the Top 100 Web Sites for 1998.
Google AdWords launches with 350 customers in 2001. The self-service ad program promises online activation with a credit card, keyword targeting and performance feedback.
Adwords Ads use a system based on the pretense that you only paid for your advertising if some clicked on your ad link – hence the term Pay Per Click (PPC) is born.
The initial success of Adwords, now Google’s main source of revenue, gave Google the funding needed to invest in research and development to produce future technologies. Last year, Google's total advertising revenue reached $59 billion.
Gmail is launched on April Fool’s day, 2004. The service is made to rival the free online mail services supplied by Yahoo and Microsoft (Hotmail) at the time, and its enormous 1 GB of email storage was unheard of – ten times anything offered by its rivals.
Today Gmail boasts more than 425 million users.
The first video goes up on YouTube in 2005 and Google acquires the company the following year.
In 2007, The YouTube Partnership Programme is expanded to include some of the most popular and prolific original content creators from the YouTube community. Today more than 1 million channels earn revenue from the program.
TrueView is introduced in 2010: after 5 seconds, if an ad doesn't seem relevant or interesting to you, you can skip it. This aims to ensure that viewers watch ads that are most relevant to them, and advertisers reach the right audience.
In 2012, Psy’s Gangnam Style becomes the most-watched video of all time – the first YouTube video to reach 1 billion views. It still holds the number 1 spot with 2.4 billion views (2x as many as Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ in second place).
Today, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine after Google. 100+ hours of video are uploaded every minute and people watch a staggering 6 billion hours of video per month.
Google Analytics is released in 2005 for measuring the impact of websites and marketing campaigns. Analytics is based on Urchin, a company acquired by Google, and is now one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing.
Analytics is now the most widely used website statistics service, utilised by 66% of the 10,000 most popular websites.
On 11th August 2015, Sergey & Larry leave Google to start Alphabet, a collection of ventures aimed at empowering and developing great entrepreneurs and businesses.
With the legal landscape of data privacy constantly shifting, Alphabet allows the co-founders to focus an increasing amount of time and money on futuristic projects, from self-driving cars to data-capturing contact lenses, in a risk-free environment that Google is no longer able to provide.