Ten years of Google

A decade ago, two graduate students from Stanford University in California sat in a Burger King, having breakfast. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were celebrating, albeit frugally: their plan to turn a novel technique for mapping the internet into a business had attracted its first $100,000 of funding. The payee's name on the cheque - the name of the company they would formally found on September 7, 1998 - had been agreed that morning:"Google, Inc".

Nowadays, if they wanted to treat themselves, Page and Brin could probably just buy Burger King. Their start-up has become a multi-billion-dollar, era-defining colossus. More than three quarters of online searches in Britain go through Google, 100 million queries a day. To Google is not just a verb, but a lifestyle, a gateway to an unprecedented hoard of information.

Google succeeded for one simple reason: it, more than any other site, found you what you were looking for. At the time, the internet was exploding in size. The dominant site, Yahoo, offered a manually updated directory, and was being swamped. Other search engines, such as AltaVista, could map the web, but had problems sorting the results.

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