When is Google’s Actual Birthday?

Google – the company that virtually dominates the Internet with its wide array of services and is arguably the most successful “Internet” company ever – has just turned 15! While everyone else is congratulating Google for its tremendous success, I wondered as to why Google celebrates September 27 as its birthday. There might be a reason, right? Was it the day they registered the Google.com domain? Was it the day they got the idea for Google? Was it the day they received the first round of funding from their initial investors? As it turns out, it’s neither of these “obvious” reasons. Why? Read on..

google bday

The History
It was back in 1998 that its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin filed for the incorporation of the company in California. While Google has a two year history BEFORE 1998, this year is generally considered the actual birth year of Google as a company.  This was the year the founders opened a new Bank account and deposited the famous $ 100,000 cheque that investor Andy Bechtolsheim – the co-founder of Sun Microsystems had signed for Google.Inc – a then non-existent company. More specifically, Google’s incorporation happened on September 4, 1998 as per their own records.  This was also the month when their first “office” opened in a Garage in Menlo Park, California. Google also hired its first employee,  Craig Silverstein during the same month. Interestingly, there is no reference to anything special happening on September 27 – the day which Google now celebrates its birthday. Google.com – the domain itsef was bought on September 15, 1997 – a good one year prior to its founding. The date is not 27 – as you can see.

As it turns out, Google on previous occasions has celebrated the company’s birthday on a different date altogether. For example, in 2004 and 2005, Google celebrated its birthday on September 7 – another date which doesn’t seem to have any significance. From there-on however it had been September 27 all along. There was a brief mystery on September 7 2010 when Google debuted their “bouncing balls” logo and people thought it was actually a sign that Google was reverting to its  birthday from 2004 and 2005. That however was not to be as Google celebrated its “birthday” on 27 September 2010 again.

The Research
Digging up a bit did not lead me to any conclusions, I came across an article on CS Monitor which has a quote from Google spokesperson Jordan Newman who says that there isn’t actually anything special with September 27. According to him, for people at Google, the 27th “felt” like a good day to celebrate. Another article on About.com says that Google celebrates its birthday on a day “when people feel like having cake.” It is unclear as to who the people in this context refers to. Is it just the Google employees or the general public? Quite unsure. That article also states that Google’s actual explanation for celebrating its birthday on September 27 was on a link that no longer exists. There is also an interesting piece on Searchengineland which has documented quite a few Google birthdays. According to them, a few years ago, a Google Help page with the title “When is Google’ s Birthday?” said the following text:

Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake. For more on Google’s history: http://www.google.com/corporate/history.html

There was an earlier entry on the same page which went like this:

Google’s official birthday is September 7, 1998. If Google were a person, it would have started elementary school late last summer (around August 19), and today it would have just finished the first grade. In other words, we’re just getting started. To discover more about Google’s history, please visit http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/history.html. To learn about our mission, please see http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/index.html

All these links are of course dead now.

For this year’s Birthday celebrations Google has put up a doodle on the homepage (and also on the latest version of Chrome) that is the featured image in this article. (scroll up!) . This is basically a “hit-the-star-with-a-stick-and-get-candies”  Pinata game where you can score some points and pass some time.

Anyway, now that Google more or less seems to have settled on September 27 as its “Birthday”, we might as well celebrate it as well. It is however still perplexing to know that  27 September seemingly holds no special value for Google and that on its actual founding year of 1998 and a few subsequent years, this very day might have passed off as  routine with nothing exciting happening.

Lucky day, indeed!

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