“Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” So began the “letter from the founders” penned by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in the company’s securities registration form in 2004. Despite ever-increasing commercial success since that date, Brin and Page have kept to their word.
Google is an unconventional company with a huge stake in our online lives. It is a source of fascination for many, including us, but what really happens in the Googleplex? And what cool factoids and stats exist from the company’s relatively short past?
Here we bring you 10 fun facts about Google to quench our own thirst for Google knowledge as well as hopefully offer you a distracting diversion from your daily life.
The First Google Doodle
Google’s famous homepage “Doodles” (the changing Google logo graphics) are well known and enjoyed by millions around the world as a way to mark an event or anniversary. But did you know that the very first Google Doodle was designed as a kind of “out of office” message?
In 1998 Brin and Page took the weekend off to go the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The Burning Man doodle (shown above), was designed by the Google guys and added to the homepage to let their users know they were out of office and couldn’t fix technical issues like a server crash.
2. Interesting Figures from the Google IPO
While the initial price for Google’s stock at its Initial Public Offering in August 2004 is an interesting stat in itself, there’s more to the story. The opening price for Google’s stock was $85 per share. At the time of writing, the stock price was $483 but has soared as high as $600 in the past year, making GOOG a rather nice investment for many.
A bonus factoid from Google’s IPO process is the value Google stated it hoped to raise on its S-1 form — as much as $2,718,281,828. It may just look like a string of numbers to non-mathletes, but 2,718,281,828 is actually the first ten digits of the mathematical constant “”e”,” showing that even as their company was planning to go public, the Google guys could still geek out with a bit of numerical humor.
3. The First Google Storage Was Made From LEGO
As proud hosts to Google back when it was still a research project, and known as “BackRub,” here Stanford now showcases the original Google storage from way back in 1996. It’s made up of a whopping 40 GB (less than a modern iPod) and it’s made from, as fans of the building bricks will be delighted to see, LEGO. It even hash funny mini-figures on the top.
Legend has it that the reason for the LEGO construction was that the Google guys needed an easily expandable, and cheap way to house 10 4 GB hard drives, and LEGO fit the bill. Whether the primary colors of the bricks used were the hues that went on to inspire the Google logo’s design is up for debate, but we’d guess it wasn’t just a coincidence.
4. Google’s First Ever Tweet
Google’s first ever Twitter post was as satisfyingly geeky as you could hope for. The message, sent in February 2009, reads “I’m 01100110 01100101 01100101 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101100 01110101 01100011 01101011 01111001 00001010.”
For anyone not fluent in binary, here’s a hint — it’s a well known phrase from the company’s homepage. Got it? Yep, it reads: “I’m feeling lucky.”
5. Google Rents Goat
This one isn’t actually one of Google’s infamous April Fools’ Day jokes: Google rents out goats. Yes you read that right. It rents goats from a company called California Grazing to help cut down the amount of weeds and brush at Google HQ.
The operation of 200 goats (plus herder and a border collie) is kind to the environment, and as Google puts it: “A lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.”
6. Google’s Impact on Language
While you’d think the news that the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English Dictionary adding “google” as a verb to their lexicons in 2006 would thrill the search engine, Google was actually none too pleased with the development.
“We’d like to make clear that you should please only use ‘Google’ when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services,” the company wrote in a blog post at the time.
The rationale behind the semantic displeasure was that Google had “a brand to protect,” and feared Google would “slip from trademarked status into common usage.” Now, four years later, we have to say Google was fighting a losing battle — just ‘google it.’
However, we’ve found some other Google-themed linguistic delights for you — a Google staffer is commonly referred to as a “Googler,” while a new team member joins as a “Noogler.” Nooglers also used to wear a colorful hat with a spinner on top. According to a former employee, those hats are now pretty scarce in some offices, instead: “Every Noogler gets a yellow smiley balloon and a nameplate.”
7. Google Is Dog-Friendly
Google is a super dog-friendly company. It proudly names “company dogs,” like Yoshka (described as a “free-range Leonberger”) pictured above. Yoshka accompanies Urs Holzle, senior VP operations and Google Fellow to the Googleplex. Less senior staff are also allowed to bring their dogs to the office.
According to Google’s “Dog Policy”, one indiscretion too many on the Google carpets, or aggressive behavior, means Lassie will have to stay at home in the future. Strong bladdered and friendly canines are more than welcome across the campus.
Unfortunately, cats are not quite as welcome. Here’s an excerpt taken directly from Google’s Code of Conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”
8. Google’s First Ever “Company Snack” Was Swedish Fish
Back in February, 1999, the chewy candy known as “Swedish Fish” became the first ever company snack (not counting beverages) that was ordered into the Google office.
Although a relatively small event, it has led to big things. Google is infamous in the industry for treating its employees to not just free drinks and snacks on tap, but full-on gourmet meals, three times a day at a plethora of on-site cafes and eateries, as well as regular BBQs during the summer.
Brin and Page have been quoted in the past as saying no Googler should have to go more than 100 feet for food, leading to snack-filled “microkitchens” that are liberally dotted around the Google offices.
In fact, the free food is said to be so tempting that Googlers risk the “Google 15,” similar to the “Freshman 15,” where they pile on weight soon after joining the company. Good thing they also have a Google gym.
Backing this up, here’s a stat from Google — “Bay Area Googlers consumed approximately 5,500 pounds of handmade chocolates from the snack bins in the microkitchens in 2007.” Wow.
9. The Google Logo Was Not Centered Until 2001
Google’s famously sparse homepage is considered a classic design in the online world. The Google logo, however, wasn’t actually centered on the page until March 31, 2001. As early users will remember, the homepage had a bias to the left-hand side, and even earlier — back in 1998 — Google sported a Yahoo-style exclamation mark.
10. Google Has a Company Dinosaur
By all accounts, there are many wondrous sights to be seen at the Googleplex, but one of the most arresting is surely the gigantic T-Rex skeleton — nicknamed “Stan” after a “real” dino found nearby — that looms menacingly at Googlers in Mountain View.
Joining Stan in the unique campus decorations is a scale replica of the SpaceShipOne, enormous Android-themed models, pink flamingos, a large LEGO man, Google-colored phone boxes and grown-up size ball pits. One thing seems for sure — just like the company itself — life at the Googleplex must be far from dull.