How Big Is Google?

no other tech firm in history has

managed to infiltrate and influence

daily life to the same insane extent as

search giant google

the californian company’s impact on how

we work play and settle drunken

arguments is so well documented it more

or less goes without saying

what’s perhaps less well understood is

just how vast the company has grown

since deciding it wasn’t satisfied

simply being everybody’s omniscient

online know-it-all

so today we’re on the search for just

what this modern-day bmw actually does


asking the question how big is google

ironically for a firm whose mo

is delivering definitive answers at

lightning speed google’s day-to-day

operations are somewhat shrouded in


still to get a rough sense of the scale

of its core search business at least

figures from just over a year ago

suggest google handles some

3.8 million online searches every single

minute of every single day

that works out in case you were

wondering at 228 million searches per

hour 5.6 billion searches a day or

around 2 trillion searches every year

not that all of these are meaningful or

worthwhile queries not that we’re


still it’s amusing to note that around

12 of searches in the us

are some variation on the end user

googling the word google

the colossal quantity of traffic google

overseas obviously translates into


and plenty of it which is why last year

google became only the third tech firm

in history to report a market cap of

more than one trillion us dollars

for a sense of just how much money

google earns it’s worth noting that in

the middle of last year

with the kovid 19 pandemic running

roughshod across the fragile world

economy the company reported quarterly

revenues of 46.2 billion dollars a 14

increase year on year but wait a minute

you’d be forgiven for thinking

google is free to use right well yes but

it does run ads

one of google’s most financially

significant acquisitions the company

said to buy companies at the breakneck

pace of around one a week

was advertising management company

doubleclick which it paid about 3.1

billion dollars for back in march 2008.

doubleclick was founded in 1996 two

years before google and

was an early darling of the era indeed it proved to be

a canny purchase

though ultimately rebranded as google

ads along with 2009 acquisition admob

doubleclicks tech is now believed to

earn google well north of 100 billion

dollars each and every year

at this point we need to learn about the

alphabet as part of a major root and

branch restructuring the company

undertook in 2015

google executives created alphabet as a

giant multinational conglomerate an

umbrella company if you will

of which the google search business is a

mere subsidiary this was partly to quell

unease among stockholders who were

cocking an eyebrow at how large and

ungainly google’s extracurricular

businesses were getting

more on those in a moment but the

creation of alphabet was also intended

to rationalize the corporate lines of


such that queries around search so to

speak could be directed to a new google


and not clutter up the desks of

visionary founders larry page and sergey


so what else has google been up to it

might be easier asking what they haven’t

been up to

in november 2005 google forked out the

seemingly bonkers sum

of 1.65 billion dollars for youtube a

niche video sharing site put together by

a trio of ex-paypal employees who

thought users would use it to share

wedding videos

that hustle is going pretty well since

you ask netting google comfortably north

of 15 billion

a year and still growing furiously

despite or maybe because of the pandemic

google snapped up another bargain in

2005 thanks to its 50 million dollar

purchase of android

the commercial picture here isn’t as

straightforward as android’s open source

nature might lead you to believe

still estimates suggest some 85 percent

of the global smartphone market runs on

android which gives google and parent

company alphabet a fair bit of clout

to understand how that clout actually

works it’s worth remembering the

oft-repeated maxim

that data is the oil of the 21st century

google’s ability to make money hinges on

its data collection operation

in the most straightforward case if you

googled curly toed slippers

google knows you’re in the market for

novelty footwear and can make money

selling that knowledge onto

manufacturers and vendors who specialize

in pointy tote slippers

much of google and alphabet’s growth

involves harvesting user data in more

subtle ways than that

for instance gmail the company’s wildly

popular free email service

currently has some 1.5 billion users if


using its sophisticated suite of

algorithms suspects one of those users

might be in the market for some sweet

new curly toad slippers it can take

steps to advertise accordingly

and remember google customers don’t just

use gmail to communicate

there’s google duo the video calling

service google meet

google chat google podcasts blogger and

of course youtube

every time you use one of these services

alphabet learns a little bit more about

you and can use that info to sell ads

this also applies to the more corporate

side of google’s work

for instance there’s google docs google

sheets and google slides

handy online alternatives to microsoft

office for sure but it’s worth restating

the fact that nothing on the internet is

ever truly free

oh and don’t forget note-taking app

google keep or interactive online

whiteboard service google jamboard

in 2020 google acquired a company called

looker which seeks to help businesses

extract and analyze data at scale

crucially using natural language instead

of arcane coding mumbo jumbo

thus alphabet’s winning combo of

cutting-edge analytics and its vast

trove of everybody’s data

makes the 2.6 billion purchase of looker

look like a very smart investment indeed

one very obviously lucrative arm of

google’s empire is google play

it’s in-house app store last year it

enjoyed revenues of a reported 38.6

billion dollars of which some 30

is creamed off by alphabet in fees

another perhaps easier to overlook side

of the google business is chrome the

company’s popular web browser

it’s estimated that almost 65 percent of

the global browser market is occupied by


google chrome was downloaded 5 billion

times in 2019 alone

not bad when you consider it didn’t even

exist until 2008.

there’s chromebook laptops which shipped

over 9 million units in the third

quarter of 2020

and don’t forget chromecast the in-home

big screen broadcast dongle used by tens

of millions around the world

alphabet isn’t shy about infiltrating

your house it seems

in 2014 the group paid a whopping 3.2

billion dollars for smart home company

nest nest was founded in 2010 by two

apple alumni whose initial modest aim

was turning the humble thermostat in

your hallway into a sensor driven wi-fi

enabled node on the internet of things

since this acquisition the sprawling

google nest division of the company has

expanded to offer smart alarm systems

security cameras home assistant devices

and even wireless routers

let’s not forget alphabet’s vast stake

in the online mapping business

there’s obviously google maps google

earth and google street view

charges are your house and all your

previous homes are on there

not everybody knows that google maps

rival ways is also owned by google

purchased 2013 from an israeli startup

for a cool 966 million dollars

they’re also building cars by the way

waymo the firm’s self-driving car


is currently offering an autonomous

rideshare service in phoenix arizona and

looks set to be rolled out further just

as soon as it’s deemed safe by


alphabet even has its tentacles in the

healthcare business with two noteworthy

sub-brands operating in the well-being


one verily aims to use big data to

influence and assist clinical research

and until recently was developing a

smart contact lens designed to monitor

the whereas glucose levels

another alphabet healthcare brand is

calico which was launched in 2013 and

seeks to research

understand and ultimately combat the

very aging process itself

to cure death as one observer puts it if

you think that sounds far-fetched wait

until you hear about

loom the alphabet subsidiary dedicated

to providing wi-fi to hard-to-reach

areas of south america and africa using

hot air balloons

or what about wing an alphabet owned

drone delivery service that’s already

proven itself operationally on three


that’s before we get into google’s 2014

acquisition of uk ai startup deepmind

which offers the firm a commanding lead

in the development of working artificial

intelligence systems

did we mention google’s financing arm

capital g currently has some three

billion dollars under management and is

a key investor in big name brands like


airbnb and duolingo separate to capital


alphabets gv is a standalone venture

capital fund with some

five billion dollars under its

management with particular interest in

the life

sciences and so-called frontier

technologies and then there’s cloud


while it lags behind amazon web services

and microsoft azure

alphabet’s cloud business still nets the

firm around 20 billion dollars in

revenue a year

not bad so what does the future hold for

this sprawling giant

there’s every chance that owing to its

mammoth size the next few years will see

alphabet ever more in the firing line of

regulators like the federal trade

commission or ftc

senior democrat politician elizabeth

warren has expressed concern about

potential monopoly practices

like the fact alphabet owns both google

maps and waze

consumers are also growing increasingly

wary of big data’s intrusion into all of

our lives

just this month when alphabet reported

the successful acquisition of health

tracker fitbit

for 2.1 billion dollars there was an

online outcry about exactly what google

might do with all that intensely

personal workout data

some of it going back years can alphabet

hope to counter these legitimate


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