Google turns 20: Things you didn’t know about the search engine giant

Google is a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s a testament to how the site has become a part of our daily lexicon, from frustrated cries of “I don’t know, Google it,” to passive aggressive links to LetMeGoogleThatForYou.

The search engine, which for many acts as a gateway – and gatekeeper – to the depths of the internet, turns 20 this month. Given its mammoth stature, this is quite surprising. In human terms, 20 years will get you a taste for craft ale, a penchant for Jack Kerouac and a few ill-advised romantic endeavours.

Google, meanwhile, has become the nucleus of the internet; it’s the rabbit hole through which hours of online gaming, academic research, social media, retail therapy, even regular therapy take place. It’s a tangle of inconceivable amounts of information, all lurking behind its simple, sunny exterior.

To celebrate Google’s two decades of existence, we’ve compiled a list of twenty facts you *probably* didn’t know about the company.

  1. Google was ill-advisedly christened “BackRub” at its inception (supposedly in reference to the site’s use of backlinks).
  2. Google is a misspelling of the word “googol” – a large number that you can write as the digit one followed by 100 zeroes (if you have the time).
  3. The above name was meant to denote the masses of information that the company delivers. 
  4. If you search for the word “askew” in Google, the results will appear slightly tilted to the right. 
  5. Google began in the garage of eventual employee Susan Wojcicki’s Menlo Park home.
    susan_wojcicki_google_youtube
  6. Wojcicki went on to become the CEO of Google-owned YouTube. 
  7. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin offered to sell Google for $1 million (£760,000) back in 1999. The offer was rejected.
  8. A venture capitalist got the above offer down to $750,000 (£570,000). Still, the buyer refused. Talk about a missed opportunity. 
  9. Google is the most visited website in the world. 
  10. “Don’t be evil” was one of the company’s original mantras.
  11. Google often brings in goats to “mow” the lawns of its offices.
    goats_at_google 
  12. The first Google Doodle was a stickman, as a homage to Burning Man 1998, which Larry Page attended (and evidently enjoyed). 
  13. Members of deceased Google employees in the US will receive 50% of their salaries for a decade after their death. 
  14. Jeff Bezos was an early investor in Google. 
  15. Google offices must be no further than 200 feet away from food, upon Sergey Brin’s instruction, according to Forbes
  16. If you type a ridiculously long number into Google, followed by the search term “=english”, it’ll tell you that number in words. 
    google_turns_20
  17. “Google” has been a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary since 2006.
  18. Every minute, 2.4 million searches happen on Google.
  19. Google went down for a few minutes on 16 August 2013, and global web traffic dropped 40%.
  20. Google works out traffic density via the speed at which Android devices on the road are moving.

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