Schoolgirl wins Google Doodle competition

Google has marked the launch of its London GooglePlex by getting a London child to design a new logo for its home page

A London schoolgirl has beaten thousands of rivals and won a competition to create a doodle for Google's UK Web site.

Lisa Wainaina, aged 11, triumphed with an effort called 'The Day of the Child'. As a reward for her efforts, Wainaina received an upper case G of frosted glass, while her school won an interactive whiteboard.

Wainaina's winning entry was due to go up on Google at 1700 Wednesday, but at the time of writing it was not yet visible, due to "technical problems", according to Google.

The 'Doodle for Google' school challenge was open to 4,000 pupils at 25 London schools. It was judged by Dennis Hwang, the 26-year-old creator of the popular Google doodles that appear on Google's homepage to mark special occasions.

"I thought I had a pretty secure job, but these kids are competition I wasn't aware of," said Hwang. "My job security just went out the window."

Click here to see pictures of the event.

Google held the competition to mark the launch of a new London office, which like Google California office is called The GooglePlex, on two floors of Belgrave House near Victoria Station.

Although Google has had a UK presence for the last seven years, The Googleplex marks an important point in Google's advance. According to executives at the launch, it will host a new engineering office, and will function as a strategic centre where the company will develop new ideas. It will also help Google to continue expanding into Europe.

"Google are fast, aren't they," said Nicky Gavron, deputy mayor of London. "They've already used London as the launch pad and set up in many European countries."

Omid Kordestani, vice-president of business development and sales for Google, told ZDNet UK that Google is keen to expand its global reach.

"Thirty percent of our revenues come from outside the US. My aim is to get it to the same level as our usage, which is 50," Kordestani told ZDNet UK.

Kordestani added that Google is particularly interested in benefiting from the UK's wireless expertise, describing it as "light years ahead of the US".