The origin of the search engine giant Google traces back to 1995, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin met as Stanford Ph.D students working on a research project together.

Over the following decade, the company grew from humble beginnings in a university dorm room into a multi-billion dollar tech corporation that came to dominate the online search landscape.

The full timeline of Google's meteoric rise provides a remarkable case study of innovation and entrepreneurial success in the information technology industry.

EARLY DAYS (1996-2001)

Early days of Google
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1996 — Project BackRub

Google starts as a PhD research project called "BackRub" by Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin to explore mathematical properties of the web.

The search engine ranked websites based on their backlinks which Page and Brin viewed as a sign of importance, similar to academic citations.  

Scott Hassan wrote code to implement Page's ranking ideas, playing a key role in early development.

1997 —

On September 15th, the domain is registered but the search engine is not officially incorporated yet.

1998 — Incorporation

Google is incorporated as a company on September 4th by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin along with investor Andy Bechtolsheim.

Page and Brin decide to name the company Google after the mathematical term "googol," representing the vast amount of information they aim to organize.

In March, Google moves into its first office space in a Menlo Park, California garage.

1999 — Funding & Launch

After outgrowing two previous spaces, Google raises $25 million from investors Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital in June.
Later in the year, Google Search is officially launched to publicly organize the rapidly growing internet content and web pages.

Simple text advertisements are also launched on the search engine to generate revenue.

2000 — Google Ads

Google launches an advertising program called Google Ads, allowing advertisers to pay based on user click-through rates on text ads.  

In a major partnership, Google is named the default search engine provider for Yahoo's site, greatly growing Google's user base.

2001 — Erc Schmidt

Experienced technology executive Eric Schmidt is hired as Google's first CEO to provide corporate leadership.

GROWTH & EXPANSION (2002-2007)

Google maps
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Here is an expanded detail on Google's growth and expansion from 2002-2007:

2002 — Google News

Google launches Google News, an automated news aggregation service that summarizes top stories from thousands of publications.

2003 — Mountain View

Google moves their headquarters to Mountain View, California's Googleplex campus, providing space for rapid expansion.

2004 — Gmail & IPO

Gmail is launched as Google's free email service, offering significantly more storage than rivals.

Google debuts on the public stock market with an IPO, raising $1.67 billion and achieving a market cap over $23 billion.

2005 — Google Maps

Google rolls out Google Maps providing interactive maps, directions, and satellite imagery.

Google Talk, an instant messaging service is introduced to compete with the likes of MSN Messenger.

Google Earth creates a virtual globe allowing users to view 3D buildings and terrain.

2006 — YouTube

In Google's largest acquisition ever, they purchase the video sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion to bolster their video services.

2007 — Google Apps

Google launches Google Apps, a cloud computing suite providing business email, storage, docs, and tools to compete with Microsoft and others.

By this point, Google offers a host of dominant services in search, email, mapping, video sharing and other areas.


Android smartphone
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2008 — Google Chrome

Google launches the Google Chrome browser to compete with Firefox and Internet Explorer. Chrome focuses on speed, simplicity and security.

To bolster their advertising business, Google acquires DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, gaining relationships with publishers and ad agencies.

2011 — Google+

Google launches Google+, a social networking service to challenge Facebook and Twitter where users can share content in "circles" of connections.

2012 — One Billion Monthly Users

Google Search reaches a new milestone, now with over 1 billion monthly visitors using Google to access information on the internet.

In their second largest acquisition ever, Google purchases Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, gaining patents and hardware expertise in mobile phones and devices.  

Overall in this era, Google rapidly expanded their mobile offerings with the growth of Android phones and tablets.
The company also cemented their dominant position in the online advertising industry. They now provide services spanning search, email, advertising, video, mapping, cloud computing and more.


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2015 — Alphabet

Google undergoes restructuring to improve oversight and accountability, giving birth to a new parent company called Alphabet.

Google becomes the main subsidiary of Alphabet, housing their internet services and products.

2017 — HTC

To gain talent and IP around phone hardware, Google spends $1.1 billion to acquire parts of HTC's smartphone engineering division.

2019 — Antitrust Investigations

Google faces major antitrust investigations by 50 U.S. states and territories examining if they unfairly dominate search and advertising.

Google moves into cloud gaming by launching Stadia, a video game streaming platform letting users play without specialized hardware.

During this period, Google continued expanding their hardware offerings in phones, smart home devices, and other technology.

However, the company started facing growing scrutiny around privacy and the tremendous market power of their online services. Regulators began questioning if consumers had enough choices and if Google was abusing its leading position.


Google AI bot
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2020 — Antitrust Investigations Heat Up

After over a year of investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice files an antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging illegal monopoly practices.

The DOJ and eleven state attorneys general accuse Google of unlawfully maintaining monopolies in search and search advertising.

2021 — Worldwide Regulatory Pressure

Google faces another antitrust lawsuit from a bipartisan coalition of 37 state and district attorneys general. This lawsuit makes similar claims to the DOJ's complaint.  

Globally, Google continues facing regulatory pressure with a $593 million fine from French authorities for not negotiating "in good faith" with news publishers around paying for content.

2022 - Present — Data Center Expansion

Google announces plans to invest over $9.5 billion in U.S. data center and office facilities, hinting at their continued growth.

As of 2023, the DOJ's antitrust case against Google continues through the litigation process with no definitive outcome reached yet. If Google loses, they could potentially face major restructuring or even breakups.

Overall, while Google maintains dominance in their core markets, they now face greater legal challenges and scrutiny than ever before around alleged anti-competitive practices.

It remains uncertain how investigations and lawsuits against the tech giant will unfold.