Tuesday, 8 May 2012



  • Google started in January, 1996 as a research project at Stanford University, by Ph.D. candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were 24 years old and 23 years old respectively.
  • Googol is a mathematical term 1 followed by one hundred zeroes. The term was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasne.
  • The name Google™ was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for ˜Googol™”.
  • Google consists of over 450,000 servers,  racked up in clusters located in data centers around the world.
  • When Serge Brin and Larry Page were born, Bill Gates had a nervous breakdown.
  • Atlantis, Shakespeare’s unknown diaries and Mozart’s unreleased album were found using Google.
  • The infamous “I’m feeling lucky” button is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
  • Google translates billions of HTML web pages into a display format for WAP and i-mode phones and wireless handled devices.
  • 57% of American kids say ‘Google’ as their first word.
  • 620 million visitors visit Google.com daily.
  • 97% of Google Revenue comes from their advertising services.
  • Google processes 20 Petabyte of information daily.
  • As of December 2009, Google’s assets were valued at $40.5 billion.
  • Google has a world-class staff of more than 2,668 employees known as Googlers. The company headquarters is called the Googleplex.
  • Google’s index of web pages is the largest in the world, comprising of billions of web pages. Google searches this immense collection of web pages often in less than half a second.
  • All the letters used in the ‘Google’ word are copyrighted by Google. According to forecasts, Google will buy rights for other letters soon (which made Chinese and Japanese very happy). The company name won’t change, though.
  • When Google started it indexed 25,000 web pages. Today Google indexes billions of web pages and each time it grows by 10-25%.
  • According to Google “As the web grows search becomes more and more important”. It acts like a library , the bigger the library the more important is the index.
  • The biggest break in search came when Google introduced their improved spell checker seen as “Did you mean ? ”.This feature doubled their traffic and soon the developers discovered that the ideal placement was at the bottom of the search results.
  • Every now and then Google makes small changes and test them with a given set of users. The users aren’t told of this. They are presented with a new interface and the testers observe how the users react to it.
  • There isn’t any restriction for proper dress code in the Google office. This may include pajamas and even super hero costumes.


The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn’t know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. In fact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.


Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked ‘Whats up?’ to which they replied “We are waiting for the rest of it”. To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.


One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the “Did you mean…” feature. This instantly doubled their traffic, but they had some interesting discussions on how best to place that information, as most people simply tuned that out. But they discovered the placement at the bottom of the results was the most effective area.


The infamous “I feel lucky” is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.


Orkut is very popular in Brazil. Orkut was the brainchild of a very intelligent Google engineer who was pretty much given free reign to run with it, without having to go through the normal Google UI procedures, hence the reason it doesn’t look or feel like a Google application. They are looking at improving Orkut to cope with the loads it places on the system.


Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren’t told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.


Google has the largest network of translators in the world


They use the 20% / 5% rules. If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included. At least 5% of people need to use a particular search preference before it will make it into the ‘Advanced Preferences’.


They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base. They run labs continually and always monitoring how people use a page of results.


The name ‘Google’ was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for ‘Googol’


Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.


They listen to feedback actively. Emailing Google isn’t emailing a blackhole.


Employees are encouraged to use 20% of their time working on their own projects. Google News, Orkut are both examples of projects that grew from this working model.


This wasn’t a technical talk so no information regarding any infrastructure was presented however they did note that they have a mantra of aiming to give back each page with in 500ms, rendered.

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