Google Buys Its First Humble Abode

Today, search giant Google occupies a state-of-the art complex at1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, Calif.However, when the company was first founded in the late1990s by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two recentStanford grads had to make do with a garage that theyreportedly rented for US$1,700 a month from the friend ofa friend.

Fast forward eight years. Google is vying for Web domination and its former landlord — Susan Wojcicki — isvice president of product management, responsible forAdSense, Google Book Search, Google Video and thesyndication of Google products to partners.

Garages, Dorm Rooms and Kitchen Tables

Page and Brin have not forgotten their humblebeginnings. They recently purchased the garage in Menlo Park, Calif.,where it all began — and the house that goes with it — to preserve what they consider tobe living history.

Indeed, it is an interesting rags-to-riches story — andone that is common to most Silicon Valley ventures.”At some point, nearly every company in Silicon Valleyeither started in a garage, or in a living room, or at akitchen table,” Dag Spicer, senior curator of the ComputerHistory Museum in Mountain View, Calif., told TechNewsWorld. “Here, the barriers to entry are solow to forming a company, you can set one up in 24hours — all you need is an idea.”

Dell and Napster both were launched from a dorm room, he noted. Apple wasborn in a garage and, perhaps most famously of all, Hewlett-Packardwas launched some 75 years ago from a small house in Palo Alto.

“It’s interesting that so many successful high-techcompanies started out like that,” Joe Wilson, senioranalyst for JupiterResearch, agreed. “I guess onlytime will tell if this was a truly importantdevelopment or just another milestone in theInternet’s evolution,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Dwindling Star

From this vantage point, it is impossible to imagineGoogle as anything but the reigning kingfish of theInternet — until, that is, one considers all thecompanies that at one time were thought to besimilarly situated. Netscapecomes to mind, as does AOL. In the CRM space, Siebelwas once the market leader — now it is just adivision of Oracle.

Then there is HP. While still a majorplayer, the company has suffered a significant blow to itsreputation over the last month. In September 2004, HPannounced it would preserve in its original state thehouse, shed and garage at 367 Addison Avenue in PaloAlto where the founders launched the company in 1939.

The development price tag for that project raised a few eyebrows,Spicer recalled. In general, though, he thinks suchinitiatives show a certain level of maturity on thepart of companies, as well as an ability to take the longview — qualities not always on display at SiliconValley. “It means they are thinking about their legacyand want to protect it,” he said.

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