I have just finished The Google Story by David Vise. It’s a fascinating look at how Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, took Google from being just another Internet start-up to a company with a market value of tens of billions of dollars. There are many reasons for Google’s amazing success. This article will look at the one reason that most resonated with me: the simple, yet unrelenting, desire of Google’s founders to build the world’s best search engine.
Google grew from the desire to solve a problem. In the mid-1990′s companies such as Yahoo!, AltaVista and Excite were the popular search engines. While they did a reasonably good job of searching the Internet, they did a poor job of ranking search results.
Enter Sergey and Larry. Whilst at Stanford University they recognised this problem and began the passionate pursuit of trying to help people find more relevant information online in less time. In The Google Story, Larry Page is quoted as saying: “we started this company because we were unhappy with current search technology. If we are successful, that will be a great side effect.”
Successful they were. Not just in building the world’s best search engine, but also in creating an astonishing money making machine, the likes of which the world had not seen before. It seems funny then to learn that initially neither of the guys had a clear idea of how the company would make money.
At most companies the primary motivation is to make money, and products are created with this end in mind. In contrast, Google tries to first find ways to solve problems. Only later, if ever, do they try to monetise these ideas or products.
Related to this is Google’s focus on the medium to long term. It could easily make more money in the short run if it so desired. The best example of this is Google’s homepage. This homepage, probably the most valuable piece of real estate on the Internet, is entirely free from ads! Google is focused giving users a high quality search experience, and it knows that this will mean greater revenue and profits in the medium to long term.
There is much more to the Google story than what I have told here, so I would recommend reading the book if you haven’t done so already.
If you enjoyed this article, you can read here about how Google directly impacted my approach to this blog and how you can be more like Google.