How Google Grows...and Grows...and Grows 
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 How Google Grows...and Grows...and Grows

How Google Grows...and Grows...and Grows

.. Its performance is the envy of executives and engineers around the world
.. For techno-evangelists, Google is a marvel of Web brilliance ... For
Wall Street, it may be the IPO that changes everything ( again ) ... But
Google is also a case study in savvy management -- a company filled with
cutting-edge ideas, rigorous accountability, and relentless attention to
detail ... Here's a search for the growth secrets of one of the world's most
exciting young companies -- a company from which every company can learn.

by Keith H. Hammonds photographs by Timothy Archibald
from FC issue 69, page 74 Read more stories from this April 2003 issue

On Tuesday morning, January 21, the world awoke to nine new words on the
home page of Google Inc., purveyor of the most popular search engine on the
Web: "New! Take your search further. Take a Google Tour." The pitch, linked
to a demo of the site's often overlooked tools and services, stayed up for
14 days and then disappeared.

To most reasonable people, the fleeting house ad seemed inconsequential. But
imagine that you're unreasonable. For a moment, try to think like a Google
engineer -- which pretty much requires being both insanely passionate about
delivering the best search results and obsessive about how you do that.

If you're a Google engineer, you know that those nine words comprised about
120 bytes of data, enough to slow download time for users with modems by 20
to 50 milliseconds. You can estimate the stress that 120 bytes, times
millions of searches per minute, put on Google's 10,000 servers. On the
other hand, you can also measure precisely how many visitors took the tour,
how many of those downloaded the Google Toolbar, and how many clicked
through for the first time to Google News.

For now, though, most of the cars in the lot outside Google's modest offices
in a Mountain View, California office park are beat-up Volvos and Subarus,
not Porsches. And while Googlers may relish their shot at impossible wealth,
they appear driven more by the quest for impossible perfection. They want
build something that searches every bit of information on the Web. More
important, they want to deliver exactly what the user is looking for, every
time. They know that this won't ever happen, and yet they keep at it. They
also pursue a seemingly gratuitous quest for speed: Four years ago, the
average search took approximately 3 seconds. Now it's down to about 0.2
seconds. And since 0.2 is more than zero, it's not quite fast enough.

Google understands that its two most important assets are the attention and
trust of its users. If it takes too long to deliver results or an additional
word of text on the home page is too distracting, Google risks losing
people's attention. If the search results are lousy, or if they are
compromised by advertising, it risks losing people's trust. Attention and
trust are sacrosanct.

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Mon, 05 Sep 2005 13:42:59 GMT  
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