Google’s birthday: Here's a look at the significant milestones in Google's 23-year history

Google’s birthday: Here's a look at the significant milestones in Google's 23-year history
Google is celebrating its 23rd birthday todayGoogle
  • Google has turned 23 years old today, growing from a research project at Stanford University to shaping the modern internet.
  • Over its 23-year old history, the search giant has had an impact on various aspects of digital connectivity, including smartphones, the web, video consumption and more.
  • Here’s a look at some of the key milestones of Google over the past 23 years.
Not many companies can claim credit for shaping the internet in the way that Google can. From search engines to advertising, email and smartphones, Google has been vital in changing the way we connect with the world and consume information. Today, Google has turned 23.

Technically, Google turned 23 years old on September 4, 2021, but the company shifted its anniversary celebrations from September 4 to September 27 in 2005, in celebration of reaching a new record in terms of indexed pages.

Google started as a research project on Stanford’s private network in 1996 and received $1,00,000 as its first angel investment in 1998, and as of now, its market capitalisation stands at a shade under $2 trillion.

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Here’s a look at the fascinating journey of Google from a university project to one of the most impactful companies of the 21st century.

1996: Google launched on Stanford University’s private network as BackRub


Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google as a research project on Stanford University’s private network. Initially known as BackRub, it was Page’s idea to crawl pages for backlinks and understand how to rank them. Both Page and Brin came together to launch PageRank, an algorithm that ranked pages based on the linking behaviour across pages.

This would go on to be the foundation of the most powerful and dominant search engine in the world.

1997: domain registered

The domain was registered a year before the company was incorporated.

1998: Google incorporated with $1,00,000 angel funding

Google incorporated with an angel investment of $1,00,000 from Sun Microsystems’ co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Sergey Brin and Larry Page relocate to the garage of Sujan Wojcicki who would go on to become the CEO of YouTube.

1998: The first Google doodle

Google doodles have become synonymous with celebration and recognition of important events worldwide. However, this began with the Burning Man festival on August 30, 1998. Today, the search giant is celebrating its own birthday with a doodle on its homepage.

2001: Eric Schmidt joins Google

Larry Page and Sergey Brin bring Eric Schmidt onboard to provide guidance to a rapidly growing company. Brin later remarked that they needed “adult supervision”.

Prior to joining Google, Schmidt was the CTO of Sun Microsystems and the CEO of Novell. He became Google’s CEO in August and oversaw the launch of Google’s IPO, Gmail and Android, among others.

He remained in the position for 10 years before moving to the position of executive chairman.

2002: Google turns down Yahoo’s $3 billion acquisition offer

One of the biggest decisions for Page and Brin was declining Yahoo’s $3 billion acquisition offer. The zinger is the fact that they declined the offer because they thought Google was worth $5 billion. A mere $2 billion more and Yahoo would have had a $2 trillion worth company in its portfolio today.

Then again, who knows if Google would have ever achieved the growth that it did if it had been acquired by Yahoo.


2002: Google News launched

After turning down Yahoo’s offer earlier in the year, Google launched a news aggregation service called Google News. This would later go on to change how digital news was distributed on the internet.

2004: Google launches Gmail on April fool’s day

Google used April fool’s day in 2004 to launch one of its most important services – Gmail. Offering free email with 1GB storage, this was launched as a limited beta, and the exclusivity drove its adoption initially.

2004: Google goes public at a valuation of $27 billion

Google went public in 2004, launching its billion-dollar IPO. It mopped up $1.7 billion from the listing, giving it a valuation of $27 billion at $85 per share.

Google’s shares are currently trading at $2,844. This does not account for the bonus shares, stock split and rights issue that Google may have announced since the IPO, but it should give a decent idea about the wealth accumulation that has happened over the course of the last 17 years.

2005: Google acquires Android

Google acquired Andy Rubin’s Android operating system. Initially designed to compete with BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile smartphones, Google would subsequently redesign it from the ground up to compete with

2005: Google Maps launched

Google Maps launched, offering step-by-step directions and business listings such as hotels.

2006: Google acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion

Google acquired YouTube for a mere $1.65 billion, barely a year after the video service made its debut. Today it is one of the most valuable properties of the company, serving over 2 billion users worldwide. It is the world’s second-most visited website, only after Google.

2007: Google acquires DoubleClick and cements its position in the ad industry

Google bolstered its ad business with the acquisition of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, the second-most expensive acquisition for the company.


2008: Google launches the Chrome browser

Google brought over Mozilla Firefox developers to launch the Google Chrome browser. It leapfrogged both Firefox and Internet Explorer in a span of 4 years and it now serves nearly two-thirds of the web browser users worldwide.

2008: Google launches Android with the HTC Dream

Google finally launched the first Android smartphone in partnership with HTC. The HTC Dream would go on to be the beginning of Google's dominance in the smartphone industry, and a precursor to the demise of Nokia, the leader in this space.

2010: Google launches its first smartphone, the Nexus One

Two years later, the Android maker launched its first smartphone, the Nexus One, in partnership with HTC. It ran on an unskinned version of Android and would receive updates directly from Google.

2011: Google launches its own social network, Google+

Google launched its own social network, Google+, in a bid to counter Facebook and Twitter. It would go on to shut down in 2019.

2011: Google announces acquisition of Motorola Mobility

Google acquired Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion and launched the Moto X and highly popular Moto G in 2013. Neither of those would be enough to prevent Google from offloading Motorola’s smartphone business to the Chinese tech giant, Lenovo, in 2014.


2012: Google Glass unveiled

Google Glass was unveiled as an experimental project by Google X and ATAP divisions, with a skydiving demo by Sergey Brin. While it didn’t result in a successful new product line, it showed off the capabilities of Google X.

2013: Google Reader shut down

Google Reader, a highly popular RSS reader, shut down.

2014: Google claws into the AI sphere with the acquisition of DeepMind

Google acquired DeepMind, a UK-based AI company marginally beating Facebook to the punch. It is one of the biggest contributors to Google’s expertise in speech synthesis and improved data centre efficiency.

2015: Google reorganises under Alphabet Inc.

Google restructured itself under the banner of Alphabet Inc. Since then, companies like Waymo, Verily and even YouTube have come under the Alphabet umbrella.

2016: Google Assistant launched

Google Assistant, a voice-powered digital assistant, was launched to compete with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa assistants.


2016: Google reorganises its hardware segment with the launch of the Pixel brand

Google launched the Pixel brand to launch a range of smartphones and audio accessories, after shelving the Nexus brand previously.

2018: Google fined a record $5 billion by EU

The Android maker was fined a record $5 billion by the European Union for monopolistic and antitrust practices.

2020: Google’s quantum computer achieves a chemistry milestone

Researchers at Google announce they have achieved “quantum superiority” after their quantum computer successfully simulated a simple chemical reaction. This would allow scientists to improve their understanding of molecular reactions and lead to discoveries.

2021: Google launches Tensor, its first chipset for smartphones

Google and most other Android smartphone makers rely on Qualcomm to power their devices, but this means they cannot integrate the hardware and software as much as Apple can with its iPhones and A-series chipsets.

To this end, Google launched the Tensor chipset that is developed in-house and powers the Pixel 6 smartphones.


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