4. Google's 20-year path from David to Goliath
It's taken Google two decades to transform from a beloved search innovator into a Big Tech behemoth, Scott writes.
Flashback: At Google's launch 22 years ago, it provided accurate, simple, fast results — unlike its competitors in search, which had become bloated "portals" — and quickly won the hearts first of internet insiders and then of the broader public.
Yes, but: "That Google is long gone," declares the Justice Department's new antitrust lawsuit against the company — replaced by today's "monopoly gatekeeper for the internet."
Context: Google spent its first decade as the clear first choice for search, putting usability first, reducing clutter on its pages, impartially ranking search results and generally avoiding "evil," as an early company motto urged.
- Google earned a ton of goodwill and loyalty from users who saw little reason over the years to switch to older competitors like Yahoo (which for a time even used Google to run its search) and later ones like Microsoft's Bing and Amazon's A9.
1. Google figured out how to make money. The company started out openly hostile to advertising, and when it first introduced targeted search ads, they were unobtrusive text links that were well distinguished from the "organic" search results.
- But after Google's 2004 IPO, as the company sought to fund growth and a wide array of "moon shots," ads gradually took over more and more of the search page.
2. Google bought other companies. The two most important acquisitions were YouTube (2006), which pulled Google into the media world, and DoubleClick (2007), which gave Google the foundation to seize control of a huge chunk of the online advertising market.
3. Google moved into all sorts of other businesses beyond search. Gmail (2004) brought Google's simplicity and reliability to email. Google Maps (2005) made geography programmable. Google Docs (2006) offered a streamlined, free, cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Office.
- By age 10, Google was way more than a search company.
4. Google built a free mobile operating system, Android, cementing its power as smartphones became the dominant tech platform.
What's next: Google successfully ferried its dominant search franchise from the desktop era into the mobile age. Now, on the threshold of tech's next transformative moment, as mobile begins to give way to voice, VR/AR, and other alternatives, the company has to pull off the same stunt — while fighting off the government in court.