Google handles over 1 billion search requests per day. But even though Google is a household name for most of us, how much do you actually know about this unconventional company?
Keep reading to find out 6 interesting facts that people don’t typically know about Google.
1. Google was first stored in a Lego tower
The founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, started Google in 1996 as a PhD research project at Stanford University. Initially housed in a friend’s garage, the initial 40GB search engine was stored in hard drive enclosures made of Lego. Although it seems a little strange to do this, it was actually pretty practical. Lego is tough and allowed easy and cheap expansion as the algorithm grew in size.
Today Google indexes over 100 million gigabytes of data and operates huge data centers around the world, there are at least 12 located in the US.
2. Google mows its lawns with goats
As part of their environmentally friendly mission, Google rents 200 goats to clear fields of weeds and brush at Mountain View HQ. They think the goats are ‘cuter to watch than lawnmowers’ and less noisy and pollutant. Interestingly, it costs them about the same to use goats as it does a lawnmower.
Google is into sustainability in a big way and has invested $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects. They also buy ugly veggies from local vendors for their cafe to save on food waste.
3. Google’s original name was ‘BackRub’
Google is well known for naming its algorithm updates after animals, some of the most famous are: Hummingbird, Pigeon, Panda, Penguin and Possum.
But Google itself had a quirky name originally, it was called the ‘BackRub’ search tool. The name was applied to the search engine by Page and Brin because it found and ranked pages based on backlinks, rather than page titles. The name was changed in 1997 to Google because they thought it was a better representation of the amount of data they were indexing.
Google is a wordplay on ‘googol’, which is a mathematical term for the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes, and fitting for a company that organizes a huge amount of web data. But when a search was done to see if the domain name was taken, the searcher spelt it ‘google.com’ instead of ‘googol.com’ and it stuck.
4. Google bought a company a week
Google is one of the largest most profitable tech companies in the world, and has deep pockets when it comes to acquiring promising new businesses, or taking over existing ones. At one stage of aggressive expansion in 2010 and 2011 it was purchasing more than one company a week. The Google acquisitions are part of a larger holding company called Alphabet Inc.
As of August 6, 2018 Alphabet had acquired 218 companies, some of the most notable being You Tube in 2006 for $1.65 billion and Motorola Mobility, for $12.5 billion. Google almost bought Tesla at one stage in 2013, when the electric car company wasn’t doing too well but business picked up in the nick of time.
5. Google outage decreased Internet usage by 40%
On August 16, 2013 between 3.50pm and 3.55pm Pacific time, Google suffered an outage that caused the Google.com homepage, YouTube, Google Drive, and Gmail to go offline. During that time global internet usage decreased by 40%.
Google has a market share of about 90% of all search engines. So this rare occurrence shows how reliant people are on Google and all its products. Luckily for Google the outage only lasted for 5 minutes but it still cost them $545,000 in revenue. Ouch!
6. Google python goes missing on April Fools Day
In 2001 an email was sent to Google employees in the New York office informing them a 3 foot nonvenomous python named Kaiser had escaped its tank and was missing. The timing of the email was unfortunate, 1 April ‘April Fools Day’. Workers didn’t know whether to believe the email or not but it wasn’t a joke.
Kaiser was finally found 3 days later and removed from the premises. Turns out he belonged to a Google engineer who had taken advantage of the New York office’s policy to allow pets at work. ABC News reported the story calling it ‘Another Successful Google Search’.