Google: Happy Birthday to us!

Google wishes itself a happy eight years of search engine bliss today!

Google's homepage today features a special Google logo incoporating a birthday cake and an oversized number eight designed to celebrate "Google 8th Birthday!"

According to Google's FAQ:

When is Google's birthday?

Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake.
Google apparently feels like having cake today!

DMM92706HBG.JPG

Google's official timeline:

The search for a buyer

Larry and Sergey continued working to perfect their technology through the first half of 1998. Following a path that would become a key tenet of the Google way, they bought a terabyte of disks at bargain prices and built their own computer housings in Larry's dorm room, which became Google's first data center. Meanwhile Sergey set up a business office, and the two began calling on potential partners who might want to license a search technology better than any then available. Despite the dotcom fever of the day, they had little interest in building a company of their own around the technology they had developed.

Among those they called on was friend and Yahoo! founder David Filo. Filo agreed that their technology was solid, but encouraged Larry and Sergey to grow the service themselves by starting a search engine company. "When it's fully developed and scalable," he told them, "let's talk again." Others were less interested in Google, as it was now known. One portal CEO told them, "As long as we're 80 percent as good as our competitors, that's good enough. Our users don't really care about search."

Touched by an angel

Unable to interest the major portal players of the day, Larry and Sergey decided to make a go of it on their own. All they needed was a little cash to move out of the dorm — and to pay off the credit cards they had maxed out buying a terabyte of memory. So they wrote up a business plan, put their Ph.D. plans on hold, and went looking for an angel investor. Their first visit was with a friend of a faculty member.

Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, was used to taking the long view. One look at their demo and he knew Google had potential — a lot of potential. But though his interest had been piqued, he was pressed for time. As Sergey tells it, "We met him very early one morning on the porch of a Stanford faculty member's home in Palo Alto. We gave him a quick demo. He had to run off somewhere, so he said, 'Instead of us discussing all the details, why don't I just write you a check?' It was made out to Google Inc. and was for $100,000."

The investment created a small dilemma. Since there was no legal entity known as "Google Inc.," there was no way to deposit the check. It sat in Larry's desk drawer for a couple of weeks while he and Sergey scrambled to set up a corporation and locate other funders among family, friends, and acquaintances. Ultimately they brought in a total initial investment of almost $1 million.

Everyone's favorite garage band

In September 1998, Google Inc. opened its door in Menlo Park, California. The door came with a remote control, as it was attached to the garage of a friend who sublet space to the new corporation's staff of three. The office offered several big advantages, including a washer and dryer and a hot tub. It also provided a parking space for the first employee hired by the new company: Craig Silverstein, now Google's director of technology.

Already Google.com, still in beta, was answering 10,000 search queries each day. The press began to take notice of the upstart website with the relevant search results, and articles extolling Google appeared in USA TODAY and Le Monde. That December, PC Magazine named Google one of its Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines for 1998. Google was moving up in the world.