It all began with a problem that led to an algorithm. How can we find relevant items online? Thinking of academics who monitor the quality of an article by checking citations, Larry Page had the idea of counting and weighing the links to a webpage; Sergey Brin worked on the mathematics that led to a search algorithm they called “BackRub.” Two years later, in 1998, they renamed the algorithm, tested it, and launched a company called Google. “The name was a play on the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros and aptly reflected Larry and Sergey’s mission ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’.”
The success of the search engine, paid for by placing advertising on pages and developed as an advertising business, led to the rapid financial growth of the company, which gave Google the ability to fund innovations across the online world, including Google News, Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Chrome in its first 10 years. In 2015, Google became the main subsidiary of the holding company, Alphabet. Other milestones include its acquisition of Android in 2005, YouTube in 2006, Doubleclick in 2007 and DeepMind (AI) in 2014, the development of the Nexus One mobile phone in 2010, the Chrome OS in 2011, Google Glass in 2012, Chromecast video streaming in 2013 and Google Assistant in 2016.
With the stated aim, “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Google’s product page lists 82 products “for everyone,” 32 products for business, and 17 for developers. Some Google products serve specialized groups (education, small business, health).