One of the greatest products to ever come out of the golden 'dot-com' era bubble, which eventually burst in 2000, Google has become a household name, a verb ("to google"), and a key player that forever changed the Internet. And life.
Named the world's second most valuable brand (after Apple) on 2014's Best Global Brands report, Google is still best known for what made it popular: its search engine. Created in 1997 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who met at Stanford, the mission was to "organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web." Hence the name, a twist of the word "googol": the mathematical term for the number represented by the numera 1 followed by 100 zeros.
Google's search engine is dominant almost everywhere in the world, except for China (Baidu), Russia (Yandex), South Korea (Naver), and Japan (Yahoo). In Europe, it enjoys a whooping market share of 92.38%, with 67% in the United States. This dominance allowed the company to become a power house in online advertising, gobbling up over 30% of the overall market (interestingly enough, Facebook is starting to challenge this position).
Leading a very innovative company that behaved like a startup for many years, Page and Brin ventured into multiple categories, to astonishing results. They reinvented the email with the creation of Gmail, in 2004; they bought YouTube in its infancy, less than two years after the launch, and turned into one of the most important platforms in the world; they acquired Android in 2005 and became champions of the mobile market, allowing millions of consumers to buy cheap smartphones. Their huge impact reaches far in fields like translation, with Google Translate, collaboration, with Google Docs, web browsing, with Chrome, and travelling, with Maps. They even played a key role in blogging with the tool Blogger, which they bought in 2003.
The tech company is known by its ferocious appetite for acquisitions, both of promising startups and also big companies (like Motorola, that it later sold to the Chinese brand Lenovo). It has an investment arm, Google Ventures, and is deep into green initiatives and visionary projects, like the self driving car.