Whether you realize it or not, you use Google. Even if you swear off the search engine aspect—which would be a strange decision, to say the least—surely you use either Google Maps, YouTube, or chief iPhone rival Android. (Each of these boasts over 1 billion users.) Is your web browser Chrome? Probably. After all, it’s the most popular web browser, commanding nearly 42 percent of all desktop web traffic. Still, we’d bet good money that you don’t know these 15 facts.
1. Google Isn’t Actually Google
As of October 2015, Google is no longer Google. Instead, the company is now Alphabet, a larger conglomerate with many companies—Google being the largest—under its umbrella. Ostensibly, according to Alphabet’s filing letter, this decision was made to allow more autonomy to “the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products,” like the driverless cars and glucose-sensing contact lenses and whatnot. In reality, though, we bet it was a decision based on some complicated financial reasoning. On the topic of Google’s driverless cars, we wonder if they’re as road-ready as the guys who master our tips for safe and effective driving.
2. Google Loves Pranks
Every April Fool’s Day, Google, like the master, George Clooney, does a few pranks. Among the pranks this year, Google Maps turned into a game of Ms. Pacman, and “launched” Google Wind, a tongue-in-cheek reimaging of Holland’s windmills, keyed to prevent cloudy and rainy day. Their first prank, however, dates back to 2000, and is, for our money, their best one. Google implored users to stare into a red-and-blue hypnosis spiral while mentally focusing on a search term before clicking on the spiral. The spiral then led to page of results for “April Fools.” It was called MentalPlex, and it was brilliant.
3. Gmail Was Kind of An Accident
Legend has it that Google offers something called “20 percent time,” urging employees to spend 20 percent of their work hours on projects of their own direction and design. One of these projects was something you likely use every day: Gmail. At the time, the idea of a 1GB email storage—that’s 500 times what the primary service, Hotmail, offered—was outrageous. But Googler Paul Buchheit used his “20 percent time” to figure it out. Currently, Gmail offers a base of 15GB per user. “20 percent time” is a great leadership tip, for sure, but for others, be sure to brush up on what, exactly, every first-time leader needs to know.
4. Google Was Originally Called “Backrub”
Stanford students Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded the search engine in 1996 as a grad school project. When it was first incarnated, the name was “Backrub.” A year later, the co-founders decided to change the name to something that would more accurately reflect the near-unlimited potential of searching the web, as opposed to, you know, foreplay.
5. The Current Namesake is Appropriately Nerdy
Googol is a math term for a number followed by 100 zeros. Incidentally, we give it just a few more years before Google’s coffers reflect their namesake.
6. “To Google” is An Official English-Language Verb
Check Merriam-Webster; this is an actual entry. As legend has it, the original text read “to obtain information about someone or something” on the World Wide Web.” But the company objected, claiming that colloquial use of “Google” as a verb would dilute the brand, if people used the term to describe searches via a different search engine, like, say, Yahoo The official entry now begins with, “To use the Google search engine…”
7. Google Is Pretty Strict About TV Appearances
An obsession over minutiae in a dictionary entry keeps in line with Google’s fastidious eye on how they’re portrayed. In television, producers need explicit permission to feature Google. Apparently, this is tough to come by. In You’re The Worst, the company is referred to as Zoiddle. And in Arrested Development, characters routinely tell each other to “do a ‘something’ search,” and one character even drives a “something” car—it’s obviously a Google car, but the logo is blurred out.
8. But Google Collaborated on The Internship
On the other hand, Google worked in tandem with Twentieth Century Fox to make The Internship, the 2013 Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy about two middle-aged salesmen competing against whiz kids for an internship at the tech giant. Naturally, The Internship portrays Google as one of the coolest places in the planet to work.
9. Google Loves Food
Perhaps proving The Internship’s point—that Google really is the coolest place in the world to work—the company offers free food to all employees. And it’s not just a singular sloppy mess hall. No, it’s estimated that there are a whopping 30 separate dining establishments on the Googleplex campus—and each one is farm-to-table fresh, serving everything from vegetarian options to hearty meats. (The company has steadfastly refused to provide an exact figure.) Check out this report from Serious Eats to truly get a look for how mind-numbingly delicious the food seems.
10. Instead of Lawnmowers, Google Uses Goats
Seriously. When the grass on the Googleplex lawn needs some trimming, Google will bring in 200 goats from a company called California Grazing. The goats will munch on the grass for about a week; it’s a zero-emission way to keep the lawn clean and orderly.
11. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” Button Doesn’t Work Anymore
Back in the day, Google offered an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to augment search. If a user searched something, they could click the button and be automatically taken to the first result on the search page. This function no longer works. Allegedly, this caused the company to lose over $100 million per year in ad revenue, so they phased it out with the integration of an auto-filling search bar. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button can still be seen, though, on Google’s homepage.
12. Gogle.com Relinks to Google
Google was smart enough to snatch up the domains surrounding Google.com. If you go to gogle.com or gooogle.com, you’ll be redirected to Google.com. Goggle.com, on the other hand, does not. In tech parlance, it’s what they call a “typosquatter,” or a site that profits simply by sucking up traffic from users’ spelling errors. In a 2011 report by Bloomberg Businessweek, typosquatters cost the top 250 performing websites upwards of $285 million annually.
13. Google Execs Used to Park at NASA
What’s your driveway like? As recently as 2007, Brin and Page used to park their shared ride, a customized Boeing 767-200—yes, as in the plane—at the nearby NASA Ames Research Center airstrip. For this privilege, it cost the guys a reported $1.3 million a year. As a tradeoff, NASA also got to place equipment for scientific analysis on the plane.
14. Yahoo! Offered $3 billion For Google
Back in 2002, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel offered Google $3 billion for the company. Google turned the offer down, refusing to accept anything less than $5 billion. How times change. Google currently has a market cap of $650 billion. Yahoo’s is $48 billion.
15. It’s the only website to create one of these
Just trust us. Try it.