Depending on how hip to the Web you are, you may or may not have heard of Google. You've likely heard catch phrases like "odd Google," which is commonly used in Web logs and online diaries when visitor stats reveal a person reached a site by typing a laughable combination of words into the search engine. Or perhaps when utilizing Yahoo! to search the Web, you ended up with results "powered by Google."
Whichever way you look at it, the masses are catching on to the buzz, and an increasing number of users--from the 100-plus Internet companies that pay Google Inc. for its search services to journalists scouring the Net for extremely specific information--are looking to the Mountain View, California, search engine company for the best results. The exact formula for attaining the best results is a well-guarded secret, but the reasons why Google has not only stayed afloat amid the dotcom dive and current recession, but avoided layoffs to boot are quite obvious.
"Never heard of it!" laughs Ray Sidney, a 32-year-old software engineer who's been employed by Google Inc. for three years in regard to that fateful spring of 2000 when so many Internet companies shut their doors. He believes Google's success in avoiding tragedy is an amalgam comprising an "incredible love of Google out there" and the fact that the company has actually entered the black.
If you ask co-founder and president Sergey Brin about the stunning success of the company he and Larry Page founded in 1998, he'll tell you it's the concept itself. Search is the No. 1-used application on the Web, second only to e-mail in all online activities. Last July, Jupiter Media Metrix reported Google ranked first among "free-standing" search engines like AltaVista, Ask Jeeves and GoTo, and ranks 15th in usage among all Web sites.
"If you look at the history of these companies, all the search engines decided they wanted to be Yahoo! around '96 and '97," says Brin, 28. "They were going to be portals and decided search was not really that important. Our perception was that search was very important, and the quality of results was important to people. That was a hypothesis that [turned] out to be true," says Brin. It was also the goal that brought Brin and co-founder and president Page, 29, together and prompted Internet big guns to back Google when it was still operating out of Brin and Page's Stanford dorm rooms.