Several genius managed to start some of the largest and most successful companies in the world from a garage and after ups and downs entered history as the best business ventures ever.
Founders: Larry Page and Sergey Brin
The saga of one of the largest giant (if not the largest) of the Internet began in 1997. when two Stanford University doctoral candidates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, registered the domain www.google.com for their web browser. Company itself, Google Inc., was founded in the garage of their friend in the end of 1998., with an initial capital of 1.1 million USD. Google’s first investor (with $ 100,000) was Andy Bechtolsheim, a founder of Sun Microsystems (known for servers, workstations, and probably most important – Java).
In 2003. Google was transformed into a leading service for web browsing, created a highly successful automated advertising network, AdSense, and opened the famous Googleplex – the complex of buildings in Mountain View, from which the company mostly operates today. Company came out on the stock market exchange in 2004. and in the first public offering raised 1.67 billion USD.
Since 2001., Google has assembled an impressive portfolio of acquisitions, mainly composed of small but innovative start-up companies known for their successful or semi finished products (Blogger, Earth Viewer, Picasa, Writely), and made a series of partnerships (among others with NASA, Sun and AOL). Although they began as a company closely linked to the web browser and related services (as he is perceived by many today), Google has branched out over the years to a range of services, activities and media, including office and business applications, desktop applications, operating systems for mobile phones, and even radio marketing.
Revenue: 16.6 billion USD (2007.)
Employees: 19. 604 (2008.)
Services and Applications:
Google Search, Gmail, Gtalk, AdSense, AdWords, Google Docs, Google Groups, YouTube, Google Maps, Blogger, Picasa, Google Earth, SketchUp, Google Earth
Founders: Jerry Yang i David Filo
Founded: 1. 3. 1995.
Compared to his later status as one of the major powers of the web and the Internet, Yahoo! began rather modestly, in 1994., as a web catalogue (”Directory”) by Jerry Yang entitled “Jerry’s Guide to the WWW“, hosted on the Stanford University webpage. In the meantime it was renamed to Yahoo! (exclamation point was added to avoid collisions with the same name of the barbecue sauce brand) and the catalogue collected a million visits till the end of the year, so Yang and Filo, realizing the potential of the site, founded the eponymous company in 1995.
Until 1999. Yahoo! became a fully fledged web portal, and the company began to expand their interests and additional services, such as instant messaging (Yahoo! Messenger) and web hosting (GeoCities). In the year 2000. Yahoo! began to discuss the merge with eBay, the largest online auction house but the deal fell through. That same year, Yahoo! and Google signed an agreement under which the Google Search became an official search engine for Yahoo! portal. After the dot-com collapse and a temporary fall in the value of shares, Yahoo!, in the period after 2002. quickly recovered and continued to expand its range of services and applications, mainly through acquisitions of other, smaller companies and their intellectual property – like a business model that has marked Google’s business after 2001.
Among the most popular Yahoo services you can find Flickr, del.icio.us, Yahoo! Widgets, formerly known as Konfabulator, and many others. After the period of 2000.-2004., which is marked by cooperation with Google, Yahoo! saw that a growing part of his business directly conflicts with Google’s – especially in the field of webmail services, Web 2.0 services and multimedia – and the cooperation between the two web giants was interrupted. Yahoo! has from that moment started turning over to Google’s competitors, mostly to Microsoft, with whom he has repeatedly discussed the merger. In 2008. Yahoo! has been marked by mass layoffs, lawsuits and scandals about another try of merging with Microsoft, which has definitely failed in June.
Revenue: 7.2 billion USD (2008.)
Employees: 13 800 (2008).
Yahoo! portal, Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Video, Yahoo! Mail, Messenger Yahoo!, Yahoo! 360, Yahoo! Buzz, Flickr, Answers Yahoo!, Yahoo! Mobile, Yahoo! Web Hosting, Yahoo! BOSS
Microsoft / MSN
Founders: Microsoft Advanced Technology Group
Founded: 24. 8. 1995.
History of Microsoft as the internet/web company is probably the most typical of all the great players of today’s Web. In the early days of the popularization of the web Microsoft, however, harbored irrational distrust for the Internet. Moreover, Bill Gates once arrogantly said that the internet is only a “passing fashion fad”. For these reasons, Microsoft Network, when it originally appeared 1995th , was designed as a separate dial-up service, which did not include internet access, but only companies content and services.
Realizing their mistake, Microsoft has quickly responded and the following year on the market launched MSN 2.0, which included access to the Internet and instead using a specialized client they used customed Internet Explorer. MSN Shows conception showed a touch of creativity that is rarely associated with the image of the company – it was about an interactive, multimedia show, and sweepstakes sites based on Flash, Visual Basic scripting and copious amounts of multimedia, atypical for that era.
In the lull between the 1997. and 2001., made by leaving MSN Shows (too) ambitious multimedia project, born were services for which MSN is most famous for – MSN Web portal, MSN Messenger and Hotmail webmail service. Most of the MSN services is being redesigned in 2006. and reorganized under a new name – Windows Live – as part of Microsoft’s Windows brand expansion strategy. Under the pressure of competition (Yahoo! and Google), company introduced a series of new services (such as Windows Live Search Maps), the search engine (Windows Live Search) is significantly improved, and almost all the advanced Web 2.0 technologies was incorporated to them. It is also reinforced by the coupling with Windows. As an Internet provider and dial-up service, MSN is still present and it uses a not insignificant number of users in the U.S. and Canada.
Revenue: 60.4 billion. USD (2008., Microsoft in total)
Employees: 89. 809 (2008., Microsoft in total)
MSN portal, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Search, Live Search Maps, Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Alerts, Windows Live OnceCare
Time Warner / AOL
Founders: Bill von Meister, Jim Kimsey
Founded: 24. 5. 1983.
Of all the major Internet players, AOL definitely has the longest and most complicated history. The roots of AOL go back to the beginning of the 80-ies, when Bill von Meister established an online service for (believe it or not) Atari 2600 game console, called Gameline. The service included a modem and enabled download of games for a price of dollar per game and had a scoring monitor sheet. Meister company was then called Control Video Corporation, and in 1985. it was reorganized and renamed, after some financial problems, to Quantum Computer Services under the leadership of Jim Kimseyja.
The company continued to engage in online services and games during the whole of the eighties and early nineties, and became known for a series of innovations (the first graphic chats, the first online interactive series, the first automated play-by-email game, the first MMORPG, etc.). Quantum Computer Services changed its name to America On-Line (AOL) in October 1989. after the break up with Apple, with whom he collaborated on a product called AppleLink. In the late eighties and early nineties, AOL is profiled as online and dial-up service for regular users – users that find alternatives (including primarily Compuserve) technically difficult. 1994. was the landmark year since AOL offered in its service access to USENET (newsgroups) and thus made their first step on-line.
Despite numerous criticisms of the quality of service, because of its simplicity and accessibility soon became one of the leading dial-up Internet provider in the U.S. – a position he held until recently, although it is actually among the last that offered its customers a full and open access to the Internet. Since the merger with Time Warner, AOL began to reposition in the market as a provider of Internet services, which is due to a rather angry competition (Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft) that caused the fall in its value and income. Yahoo! and Microsoft accepted that fall of AOL by rubbing their hands because both companies were thinking to acquire it to themselves for quite a time, while Google, as one of the major share holders of AOL, because of it lost a significant portion of their investments.
Outside the U.S. AOL does not mean much for obvious reasons, but within the United States it is followed by the image of a dinosaur on a hunting list. Nonetheless, AOL has some time now been working on a series of web services similar to those of Google, or Yahoo to Microsoft, and with a possible merging with some of these giants could turn AOL into a globally more important web player.