Did you know that Google was originally called Backrub or that Yahoo had the opportunity to acquire its technology and turned it down?

As the web giant marks its 20th birthday (on 27 September) here are 20 facts you might not know about it:

  1. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have respective net worths of $54.4bn and $53bn according to Forbes. Parent company Alphabet, which also owns YouTube and all other former Google subsidiaries, reported revenue of $110.9bn in 2017 and net income (profit) of $12.6bn.
  2. “Google” was included in the Oxford English Dictionary from June 2006 as a verb meaning: “Search for information about (someone or something) on the Internet using the search engine Google.”
  3. Page and Brin found each other obnoxious when they met in 1995 at Stanford University on a campus tour.
  4. Brin was a second-year student when Page started his studies at the university. Google started as a PhD project, when Page started collecting links on the Web in 1995. As the son of a computer science professor he knew that links worked like citations, giving a web page greater authority.
  5. By combining their maths and computer science expertise, the Google co-founders created the PageRank algorithm which led to search engine optimisation. SEO arrived with the Google toolbar which allowed webmasters to compare how Google saw their sites. Companies then found ways to manipulate the rankings.
  6. The first version of Google was named “Backrub” and was released on Stanford’s website in August 1996.
  7. They renamed the search engine “Google” in 1997, which is a play on the word “googol” coined by a mathematician and meaning the number one followed by 100 zeros.
  8. Google.stanford.edu was the first version of Google the search engine and would regularly crash Stanford’s internet connection.
  9. They set up their first office in Susan Wojcicki’s garage in Menlo Park, California. She later became CEO of YouTube under Google’s ownership and Brin married Susan’s sister Anne.
  10. The first Google Doodle was a Burning Man figure, an “out-of-office” to let everyone know that Page and Brin were at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert in August 1998.
  11. Also in 1998 Google received its first substantial funding –  $100,000 from the co-founder of Sun Microsystems.
  12. Google pitched its technology to search engines Excite, Yahoo and Altavista between 1998 and 1999 for $1m but was rejected by all three.
  13. Google News was launched in September 2002.
  14. Google Analytics was launched in November 2005, it tracks and reports on website traffic.
  15. YouTube was bought for $1.65bn and was the largest purchase Google had made up till then. It was seen as a move to buy users rather than tech.
  16. Google bought Android in 2005 for $50m and the first Android device was launched in 2008. Some 88% of all smartphones sold to end users in 2018 were phones with the Android operating system, according to data on Statista.
  17. Motorola Mobility was bought by Google in 2011 for $12.5bn.
  18. AI company DeepMind became part of Google in 2014. It developed AlphaGo AI, the first machine to beat a professional player of the ancient Asian board game Go.
  19. Alphabet became Google’s parent company in 2015 and reports having 89,058 employees.
  20. Its headquarters are in Mountain View, California and are known as “the Googleplex”.

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