"Don’t be evil.” And “Do the right thing."
Number of staff
Mountain View, California, US
The founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, met when the former showed the latter around the Stanford University campus in 1995. They worked on a research project together as part of their PhDs and, a year later, created a search engine called BackRub, working from an office in their garage.
The duo renamed it Google in 1998 as a nod to the mathematical term “googol” (which can be expressed as a decimal using 1 followed by 100 zeros), reflecting their ambition to organise huge amounts of data in a structured way. Six years later, Google floated on the NASDAQ with an initial share price of $85, which shot up to $100.33 by the end of the first day’s trading.
In fact, one of the biggest challenges for the brand has always been its meteoric rise, which has prompted significant interest from antitrust authorities. Google’s mission, according to Page, is to “understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want” – something it is achieving as its products and services pervade more aspects of consumers’ lives.
It launched self-service ad program Google AdWords in 2000, Google News in 2001, Google AdSense in 2003, Gmail in 2004, Google Earth in 2005, Android in 2007, Chrome in 2008 and Google+ in 2011. In addition to its in-house innovations, the company has grown through acquisitions, such as YouTube in 2006.
Google has always tried to cultivate a culture of openness. At its weekly ‘TGIF’ meetings, open to all staff, employees are encouraged to ask senior management questions.
Another initiative synonymous with its early philosophy is the ‘20% rule’, under which employees are encouraged to spend a fifth of their time working on a ‘passion project’ not necessarily directly related to their day job. This risk-taking culture has led to some breakthrough innovations such as AdSense, Gmail and Google News. However, it has also resulted in less successful projects, such as Google Glass.
The design of its offices, complete with cafes and colourful collaboration spaces, aims to foster this culture and reflect the brand’s informal spirit. The sense of playfulness is also conveyed by Google’s online branding through its ‘doodles’. Google’s attention to interior detail has upped the ante for all organisations targeting top talent in the tech sector, creating comfortable, creative environments for optimum productivity. The company also focuses on wellbeing, running mindfulness and emotional intelligence programmes, not only for those within the company, but also for the wider corporate community.
The company’s values have been open for discussion from the outset. At one meeting, employee Paul Buchheit reportedly suggested the initial corporate code of conduct, “don’t be evil”, a motto that was later replaced by “do the right thing”. Other guiding principles – what Google calls “things we know to be true”, include “focus on the user and all else will follow”, “fast is better than slow” and “you can be serious without a suit”.
In August 2015, Page announced on Google’s official blog that a new holding company, Alphabet, would be created. This resulted in a restructure, placing Google and its subsidiaries under the Alphabet umbrella. Page has said it will make Google "cleaner and more accountable”.
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1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, US
Lorraine Twohill, senior vice-president of global marketing, Alphabe
Jeffrey Whipps, vice-president, Google brand
Graham Bednash, marketing director, Google Search and Maps, EMEA
Ben Malbon, marketing director
Torsten Schuppe, senior director, brand and consumer marketing, EMEA