Google: a synonym for searching the web
Around the globe, Google has become a synonym for searching the Internet, as in let's ``Google'' that. In Silicon Valley, the Mountain View company is the hottest private company around, with a good shot at becoming a business legend like Netscape, Apple or eBay.
Founded by a pair of Stanford graduate students in 1998, Google reinvented online searching. Today, the company says it handles 200 million searches a day and, according to some estimates, about 75 percent of all search-engine-generated traffic to Web sites. The site makes it possible to search instantly for virtually anything on the Web. Google is an encyclopedia, phone book, shopping catalog, news archive and gossip sheet rolled into one.
``Google has made knowledge a habit,'' said Barbara Quint, a librarian and editor of Search Magazine. The company is also a rare reminder that there is financial promise in the Internet. Google, with 800 employees and growing fast, won't disclose its finances. But speculation within the industry is that Google will ring up $400 million to $700 million in sales this year, most of it from using technology to target relevant ads to Web users. The company says it has been making money since December 2000.
Yet profits alone don't seem to be enough for Google's two ambitious young founders. Their ethos of thinking big evokes other celebrated valley companies that tried to change the world through technology.
The mindset has trickled down through Google's geek-filled staff and is enforced by an official policy that company engineers devote a quarter of their time to thinking up great, new ideas -- even if their financial promise is questionable. In many ways, co-founders Larry Page, 30, and Sergey Brin, 29, have the quintessential valley story: using Stanford as a lab for their brainchild, launching in a garage and attracting high tech's premier venture capitalists.
In the wake of the valley's most precipitous slump in decades, they represent a new dot-com generation focused on perfecting their product and turning a profit -- before going public, not after.