No, it’s probably not what you’re thinking. It’s not how you spell the word meaning 10100. Actually it refers to the Google headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Yes Google, that amazing search engine that I find myself taking for granted more and more each day. Whenever I want to know something or find something, I just think, ‘I’ll Google it.’ It’s as if to ‘Google’ were a verb for searching materials on the internet. And why not? They are clearly the dominant force in the search engine market. It seems like it has a certain appeal to people looking for answers. However, as good as the technology may be and as innovative and bold as the company is, Google has found itself in it pretty deep over the past year. 2005 has been quite the year for Google. Let’s talk business for a minute.
Google started off the year with its shares trading just shy of the $200 mark. Some analysts said it had nowhere to go. Others pointed to even higher share prices, prices that seemed irrational and unreasonable back then. Numbers like $250, $270 and the like were thrown out there. But Google didn’t follow those analyst predictions. Instead it blasted past all of those predictions and rounded out the year solidly entrenched above $400. Google can now say that it is the third most valuable stock currently being traded on the NASDAQ, following only Microsoft and Intel. I’m talking over $120 billion. That’s quite a feat for a company which only went public less than a year and a half ago. Is it justified? Well, market capitalization has always been an indicator of potential, much like what happened during the dot-com boom and bust. The potential was there, but with the lack of results, companies imploded. Google definitely has a great deal of potential. Just look at the services and features it has launched this past year. It’s also these things that have brought the company some headaches.
Just look at that list of some of the headlines that Google has made this past year. Google taking on Microsoft, Google versus copyright laws, Google versus itself. The number of articles are endless. People are spellbound by the company that could. They’re attracted to the company that doesn’t do things everyone else does. I mean who doesn’t disclose earnings estimates for the coming quarter and the fiscal year? Google is definitely a different sort of company.
I guess I can say I had the ‘great’ opportunity to have spoken with a few people who work for Google. This past semester, Google sent a recruiting team to the University of Waterloo to give presentations about working at Google and answered questions. The image they presented of the company was unlike any other company I’ve ever heard of. It was the most casual and laid-back work environment you could imagine. I won’t go into it in detail, but doing my search for Googleplex on Google actually brought up this page which is exactly how they described the work environment.
Now if that’s not a nice place to work I don’t know what would be. That page is so properly titled. Google does indeed have its own culture of sorts. Almost every line in that description is capped with a joke or nudge at one thing or other that makes Google what it is, unique. Could a workplace based not on deskwork but on mutual interaction and the exchange of ideas really exist? Oh those things happen in most jobs, I know, but are they the cornerstone of what makes the company? Can a company be run by the employees instead of by a few upper management types? Speaking with the some of the former UWaterloo students who now work for Google, one thing they agreed they love is the flexibility. Instead of doing the same thing day in, day out, they had a lot of freedom to do some of the things they want. For example, they get so much time each week they can devote to a little project of their own they’d like to see done. And that doesn’t mean Friday is work on your own project day. You can save up those days for a long time and spend weeks on end working on that little thing you want to see happen. Things are taken into the employees hands. Ideas are allowed to flourish instead of being stamped on by the feet of management. And that’s how so many of Google’s little ingenius features have arisen. One person was working on something he thought would be useful for others. He was allowed to work on his idea and all of a sudden, Google itself if launching that service you devised sitting there late one night.
Honestly speaking, I’ve recently been somewhat biased against Google. I feel as though we’re heading back to the dotcom days on this one company again. Yes, a lot of great ideas have been coming out of Google, but be it good or pointless, it seems like more and more people are hailing Google as the new King of technology. People who are blindly following the company, which has been one of the darlings of technology this past year, are spouting misinformation left and right. GoogleTalk is the best thing in the world! Google and Sun are developing OpenOffice to take down Microsoft! GoogleOS! Long Live Google! Maybe Google’s becoming a little too powerful for its own good.
Google started off as that awesome search engine company but it has quickly evolved into the definitive name in online search, advertising and just about anything else internet-related. As much as I fear how much power it could obtain (think Microsoft-esque but without the ‘M$ Sux0rz!!!11!’ types to blacken its name) I have commend Google for taking paths other companies wouldn’t dare take and furthering this little World Wide Web of ours.