I recently had the pleasure of visiting Google’s HQ in Palo Alto, California.
Google is creepily impressive. The company was founded in 1998 by a couple of college students. Google went public in 2004. Google now employs over 50,000, 2012 revenues exceeded $50 billion and the company’s equity exceeds $70 billion, which is more than Ford and GM combined. Google has the capital to acquire both Ford and GM. That’s daunting. Now, recall that the company was founded in a garage fourteen years ago, and now has amassed enough capital to purchase two of America’s century old industrial icons; that’s a bit unsettling.
Here’s another way to think about it. Fourteen years ago a couple of kids got together and using a grant from the National Science Foundation purchased a couple of PCs to use in a research project. Their goal was development of a digital library. Did I mention that these guys were nerds? By the way, I like nerds. Show me a heralded sports hero and I’ll show you a nerd who owns them. I digress. Today, they (the Google nerds) can write a check for Ford and GM, not Ford or GM cars, but the companies, both of them. If that didn’t shock you then you may not have a pulse.
What does Google do? Let’s first consider what Ford and GM do. Nuts, bolts, screws, panels, engines, transmissions, tires, gaskets, hoses, seats, electronics enter the factory at one end and at the other a beautifully made touchable, seeable, and drivable vehicle emerges. The Google experience on the other hand is ethereal. Ethereal? Exactly. What the heck does ethereal mean? Google it, I say.
Sit down for this next epiphany. Google now owns or is partnered with a long list of companies and government agencies including: Time Warner, You Tube, Energy Companies, News Corp, British Sky Broadcasting, The Pope, NORAD, NASA, and the CIA.
Why did I use Ford and GM as a relative comparison?
Try to keep up. I’ll explain the car connection while the NORAD and NASA connection sinks in. The most amazing and the only tangible Google product I saw during the visit was the Google Car. The Google car is essentially a Prius equipped with dome, the size of a Shriner’s hat, mounted on top. This fleet has accumulated more than 500,000 miles without fail. The driver-less car can deliver passengers to their destination, search and find a parking spot, and then return when called. Prodigious, that’s my best adjective. The Google caravan is prodigious.
The World Wide Web swept in a new era, the information age. Google’s success confirms the pervasive use of on-line search as the primary means by which people, private and professional, take the first step in their decision making process. The average person now has more information available at their fingertips than Galileo amassed in a lifetime.
Just in case you’re still reading, I’ll share some unfathomable numbers. In 2012 4 billion YouTube videos were viewed ‘daily.’ Facebook got 1 trillion pages views each month. Nearly 5 billion searches were made on Google each day. It’s no wonder everyone is looking down at their smart phone and missing life.
One last thought regarding Google; they recently formed a foundation, Google.org. The purpose of the foundation is to fight climate change. They may wish to read the story of King Canute before investing too much money in an effort to control the climate. Ford and GM might be a better investment.
Did you know you could google Google?