Google is a huge multinational corporation that runs one of the most popular web services. People can use its offering to create blogs, websites, upload videos, create and share news items and many more. It suggests social networking tools, services for business, mobile services, and even Google branded goods. At the same time, it reportedly has some privacy issues. It collects personal data from all its users to generate targeted advertisements. However, experts suggest that these data are also used to profile people and spy on their personal lives. Therefore, the analysis of Google’s comprehensive services and operations allows stating that the company is one of the best ones. However, it is also one of the most secretive organizations in the world.
The History of Google
Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998. They started working together at Stanford University on a search engine Backrub. In this engine, they first used the technique of using back-links to estimate the webpage relevance. It later came to be a basis of Google search, the PageRank algorithm. Google gained a worldwide popularity almost instantly; and by 2000, it had become one of the world’s top search engines. In 2001, it introduced its advertising services and other benefits for business, making it increasingly profitable (Karch, n. d.).
Nowadays, Google search engine occupies 58% of the market share (“Desktop search engine market share,” 2014). The popularity and prevalence of Google Search is so extensive that people use google as a verb. The word google was declared as “the most useful word of 2002.” In 2006, Oxford and Merriam Webster Dictionaries officially recognized the word in the English language. It means “to use the Google Search Engine to obtain information on the World Wide Web” (Taprial & Kanwar, 2009).
In 2014, BrandZ Top 100 annual report recognized Google as the most valuable brand, the value of which rose by 40 percent as compared to the previous year (Liljas, 2014).
Google offers an enormously wide variety of services. Most of them are free-of-charge and can be accessed from any desktop computer or mobile devices with the Internet connection. However, Google still remains an extremely lucrative business largely due to its advertisement. For the year 2013, Google reportedly collected $55,5 billion of revenues, $50 billion of which had been earned on advertising (“Google’s income statement information,” 2014). In addition, Google offers some subscription opportunities to enhance the user experience; for example, Google Earth Plus has a premium version Google Earth Pro.
Google’s web services. Google Search is the hallmark of the company. Users value it for being user-friendly, fast, convenient, and generating relevant search results. Google goes beyond the simple text search queries. Users can customize their search to look for printed books via Google Books, find news via Google News, generate a search by an image via Google Images search for video files with Google Video, or do online shopping via Google Shopping (Karch, n. d.).
The web browser Chrome was created in 2008 and rapidly became one of most popular browsers due to its speed and convenience. One of the biggest advantages of this browser is that it allows integrating with user’s Google account and seamlessly access to numerous web services offered by the company. One of the most recent and biggest Google’s one is acquisitions YouTube, the world’s top video-sharing service. YouTube provides billions of users worldwide with the ability to watch and share videos, music clips, and movies online. Gmail is the Google’s mail client that allows people exchange and store the unlimited number of emails, as well as a great capacity of other multimedia files. Before the emergence of Gmail, other clients offered only a limited storage capacity so they had to delete their emails from time to time.
Android. Android is a mobile operating system released by Google in 2007. After its launch, it has become a direct competitor of Apple’s iOS, which is used in iPhones and iPads. As of 2014, Android occupies over 84% of the market of smartphones (“Smartphone OS market share,” 2014).
Cloud computing. Experts consider the cloud to be the future of information and communication technologies. Google offers a variety of cloud services, which are software or computing capabilities. The companies that can shift their operations to the cloud do not need to spend additional resources for hardware and employees. Google cloud services offer cost benefits, latest updates, a low risk of losing data, a wide sharing and collaboration capabilities. They include Google Calendar, Google Docs, hosting and computational engine Google App, and many others (Taprial & Kanwar, 2009).
Corporate Environment and Culture
Google is known for its casual workplace environment. Its employees (Googlers) are very productive, but they also enjoy having fun during their work. The CEOs of Google encourage creativity and innovation through creating a college campus-like atmosphere. Therefore, Google creates a special corporate culture, which adds to the company values for its employees. The headquarters, Googelplex, and other companies’ facilities do not adhere to any dress code regulations nor to a strict schedule. Googlers can play football, table tennis, or even roller hockey.
Some experts criticize such an approach for being too relaxed. However, Google argues that the workplace experience that it creates builds to a lifestyle that produces an innovative advantage over the competitors. Google executives view themselves as a company that aims to change the world through teamwork and creativity. Employees have a particular feeling of pride due to being a part of such organization. Googlers claim that their company is the best one in the world, believe that they contribute to making changes, and find them extremely satisfying (Kuntze & Matulich, 2010).
Google Benefits. Apart from a positive workplace environment, Google offers its employees a range of benefits and incentives in order to raise their job satisfaction and company loyalty. These incentives include:
Free Food. Google provides free meals to all its employees. Different offices have a various number of cafeterias and gourmets. Google’s unwritten rule says that no team member should be ever more than “100 feet away from a source of food” (Kuntze & Matulich, 2010).
Healthcare Facilities and Services. Google offers 100% health care coverage to all its employees and even to their relatives. Moreover, many Google offices have their own physicians and dentists.
Transportation Services. The staff can travel with Google’s free-of-charge, Wi-Fi-equipped shuttle buses to their working facilities.
Laundry Services. Google provides facilities where staff can do do laundry and dry cleaning for free.
Sport Facilities. Googleplex has a swimming pool, a court for volleyball, tables for pool and tennis, a climbing wall, and many others. Googlers can visit a gym, attend free exercise classes, or receive a professional massage.
20% Program. One of Google’s programs states that all employees are free to spend 20% of their work time to do projects that they are most interested in. This approach has proved to be worth for the company as it makes employees enjoy what they are doing and raise their satisfaction levels. It also creates new business opportunities. Such services as Gmail, Google News, and AdSense initially began as individual projects (Kuntze & Matulich, 2010).
Environmentalism. Google is very concerned about an environment and nature preservation. It always aims at doing things in the most energy efficient way. Thus, Google provides a financial support for employees who decide on hybrid or electric automobiles and use solar panels.
Holidays and Leave Days. Employees can enjoy 25 leave days and a dozen of holiday days a year. A maternity leave lasts 18 weeks. It is entirely subsidized.
Other Services. Google Mountain View campus also includes services such as hairdressing, car wash, and oil change. The company also offers its employees some personal development opportunities like foreign language classes (Kuntze & Matulich, 2010).
Google as One of the World’s Most Secretive Organizations
Google’s Data Centers
Google keeps many of its operations in secret. There data centers have one of the greatest computational power in the world. Thus, the company’s CEOs choose not to reveal their location, number, and capacity. The main reason for such secrecy is that data centers provide the corporation with a major competitive advantage. Therefore, competitors should not know the details about their size and performance characteristics.
Nobody really knows how many data centers the company has. Judging on the amount of services Google provides, experts suggest that there should be at least 12 main data centers in the US. In Europe, Google assumedly has the facilities in, at least, five locations (Miller, 2012).
Google X is a semi-secret division of Google, which is run by a scientist Astro Teller. The facility deals with various innovations and advancements in different technological fields. Some of the technologies that were developed in Google X have already become popular among users, but many of them still remain under a shroud of mystery.
Google Glass. Google also refers to them as “augmented reality glasses.” It is a set of glasses and a headset with the computer integrated within.
Self-driving car. This kind of technology has been anticipated for decades now. With the help of Google, it might soon hit the markets.
Project Loon. A project Loon aims at sending Wi-Fi balloons into the stratosphere in order to allow people in rural regions to have an access to the Internet with the speed comparable to that of 3G networks.
Neural Network. Studies that create artificial neurons are few steps closer to the invention of machine intelligence. Neural networks simulate an activity of the human brain as well as enhance voice and image recognition.
Web of Things. The idea of the web of things deals with technology that will be integrated in houses and everyday objects as well as connect them to the Internet. With this technology, everything would be accessed and controlled remotely (Stoneham, 2013).
Google and the NSA
There is no substantial evidence of Google’s involvement in the NSA operations. However, many facts suggest that these two organizations have some connections. First, Google is one of the most influential commercial companies in the world. It has spread its reach on almost all countries and on those individuals who use the Internet (“Spying and storing,” 2014). It collects data on its every user. Due to its secrecy, no one knows for sure how these data are used besides targeted advertisements. Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor and member of a scandalous government surveillance program Prism, advises a user being concerned about privacy issues not to use Google services, as well as Dropbox and Facebook (Mejia, 2014).
There are some versions that believe that Google’s operations have even a wider extent than that of the NSA. Google has a great access to people’s personal data and a more extensive user database. The NSA and other military and intelligence organizations obviously attempt to obtain such valuable information. Every user has a personal Internet profile, which is based on web searches, online purchases, interests, and habits. Google tracks these activities, analyzes them, stores, and possibly shares them with the government (Duff, 2013).
In 2012, WikiLeaks revealed emails from STRATFOR, the private intelligence organization. It hints on Google working for the CIA. On the email letters sent by STRATFOR’s employee Scott Stewart said, “GOOGLE is getting White House and State Department support & air cover. In reality, they are doing things the CIA cannot do” (as cited in Duff, 2013). In the previous year, CIA sources admitted that Google acted as a contractor in collecting intelligence of Iran. Moreover, these sources noted that Google collaborated with not only the CIA. Google’s activity was also reported in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan. It was not concerned with merely online shopping records (Duff, 2013).
Experts say that Google is “the operational intelligence and strategic planning agency for the New World Order” (Duff, 2013). The reason that there are no sufficient evident facts is that Google manages to operate undetectably, even by their own stockholders. For the company with $50 billion of revenues and enormous databases of everything in the world, it is not much of a challenge. Google have an access to billions of emails. The market share of Gmail is 15% and growing (“Email client market share and popularity,” 2014). It tracks phones that inform about the individuals’ location and movement. Google Earth service has some images of nearly every location on the Earth, every road, and even sells real-time satellite services (Duff, 2013). Considering the price of such services, only a well-funded organization can afford it.
Google is one of the greatest world’s companies in terms of profitability, innovative ideas, and customer satisfaction. It is the world’s most valuable brand. It provides the most comprehensive and advanced services in different areas of technology, science, communication, and engineering. It has fundamentally changed the Internet and continues to transform it each day. In addition, Google is praised by its unconventional approach to corporate culture. Employees of the company are able to enjoy a positive and relaxing environment as well as dozens of additional incentives. They encourage their creativity and productiveness.
However, many people believe that there is also a dark side of Google. It is extremely secretive about its data centers and lab facilities. However, this fact can be explained by the commercial confidentiality considerations as Google does not want to reveal its competitive operations. What is more disturbing is the report of Google violating the users’ privacy, collecting and sharing data with the intelligence organization as the CIA or NSA. Although there are no solid facts of Google working for these agencies, the very fact that the company possessing so much personal information about billions of people is alarming.
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Liljas, P. (2014, May 22). Google edges out Apple as world’s most valuable brand. Time.
Mejia, P. (2014, October 13). Wary of privacy issues? Ditch Dropbox and avoid Google, says Edward Snowden. Newsweek.
Miller, R. (2012, May 15). Google data center FAQ. Data Center Knowledge.
Smartphone OS market share, Q2 2014 (2014). IDC.
Spying and storing: Assange says ‘Google works like NSA.’ (2014, September 20). RT.
Stoneham, N. (2013, July 15). Innovation and secrets: How Google X is shaping our future. BlurGroup.
Taprial, V., & Kanwar, P. (2009). Google beyond google. London, United Kingdom: Bookboon. Retreived from website