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20 Fascinating, Little-Known Facts About Google

20 Fascinating, Little-Known Facts About Google

It’s been 10 years since Google Inc. went public, and a little more than 15 years since Stanford University PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page formed the company that has become a universal verb–the “Xerox” of internet search.   But you don’t become a verb, or earn notoriety, without engaging in some eye-opening behavior. From its origins to its future products, from one co-founder interviewing candidates in a cow costume to the company’s attempts to model a genetically perfect human body, here are 20 fascinating facts about Google’s history and company (#19 will blow your mind!)

1. Google’s name is misspelled

The name is a play on the word “googol” (1 followed by 100 zeroes), because Brin and Page wanted to organize a “seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.”

2. Brin and Page are college dropouts (kinda)

Both young men had completed their master’s degrees and were on their way to becoming computer science “doctors” when the matter of a soon-to-be billion-dollar company got in the way.

3. Google’s was once housed in a rented garage

Unlike Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder), and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (HP’s founders), neither

Brin nor Page, nor their parents, owned the garage that housed the intrepid entrepreneurs. It belonged to their friend Susan Wojcicki (Google employee no. 18); and apparently, even though they has already been a company for two years, they moved into her garage and paid rent in part to help Wojcicki pay her mortgage. google-garage-1

    4. Like prisoners, every Google employee has a number

    It started with Page and Brin (Google Employees nos. 1 and 2) and extends to the 50 000th employee (Google has roughly 55 000 employees). To some, referring to professionals by a number might seem rude, or cult-like. But if you’re a hugely successful company, you can get away with just about anything.

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    5. Is that Sergey Brin in a cow costume stroking his udder?

    That actually happened, during a job interview, according to Doug Edwards, in his book, I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59.

    6. Not every perk at the Googleplex is free.

    The company is famous for treating its employees to the high life at its “Googleplex” headquarters in Mountain View, California: Free lunch (and breakfast, and dinner), free haircuts, free state-of-the-art gym, and the greatest workplace invention ever, the nap pod (see below). But some luxuries come at a cost, like full-body massages and dry cleaning. And some are downright exorbitant: Google once infamously hiked its onsite day care costs from $33,000 per child per year to $57,000.

    Google nap pod

      7. Google’s “do what you want” employee perk may be dead or dying

      That claim is being made by some current and former employees who bemoan the demise of the Innovation Time Off program. That program lets employees tackle undirected pet projects for one day a week (or 20% of their work hours).

      Google denies this charge. And that’s good, because it would be sad to lose a perk that resulted in Gmail, Google News, and AdSense (the pay-per-click ad platform, which accounts for 25% of the company’s revenue).

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      8. Google has lost top talent to its competitors

      Several former executives have bolted Mountain View for competitors like Facebook (Gideon Yu, Sheryl Sandberg), Yahoo (Marissa Mayer), and even the U.S. government (Megan Smith, the nation’s Chief Technology Officer).

      9. Technically, Google is more than 150 companies rolled into one

      The company has acquired nearly 200 technology businesses since its inception, including YouTube, Waze (a GPS navigation app), and GrandCentral, the VoIP platform that now exists as Google Voice.

      10. Google doesn’t make “droids”

      This may come as a surprise to some iPhone users, who are accustomed to Apple’s hands in every aspect of the products they sell. Google’s primary smartphone product is not hardware, but software: the Android mobile operating system. For a brief period, Google owned the smartphone manufacturer Motorola Mobility, whose Android-powered phones (one of them is actually called the Droid) make up less than 6% of the Android market. Google’s own Nexus smartphones and tablets–like the new Nexus 6–are actually manufactured by LG, HTC, or Motorola Mobility.

      11. Google Glass may be coming to an airport near you

      One of Google’s chief hardware plays is Google Glass, the wearable technology that raised eyebrows when it was unveiled (and will soon have competition). Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, a consistent technology first-adopter,  is the first airline to try Google Glass to scan boarding passengers’ passports.

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      virgin atlantic and google glass

        12. Google has been involved with some spectacular failures

        Anyone remember Knol, Google’s attempt to compete with Wikipedia? Or the messaging apps Google Wave and Google Buzz? What about the social network Orkut? It held on for 10 years, thanks to a large fan base in India and Brazil, but has finally died an honorable death.

        13. Google is assembling an army of robots in its secretive skunkworks lab

        Not just robots, but a driver-less car, which is already legal in California, as well as Google Glass (see #11), and other “moonshot” ideas. The semi-secret lab, called GoogleX, aims to improve technology “by a factor of 10… [and to] develop science-fiction-sounding solutions.”

        14. Google wants the human genetic map to be searchable

        The latest GoogleX project, called Baseline Study, will collect and analyze biological samples from 175 individuals (followed by thousands more) in order to create a molecular database that can be searched for bio-markers (indicators of specific maladies).

        15. The company has one true “don’t be evil” division

        Google.org, the company’s “do good” philanthropic arm, says that it donates every year $100 million in grants and $1 billion worth of products to nonprofit firms and community causes.

        16. Google joins the search to find the root causes of autism

        One of those community causes is MSSNG, a project of the research-funding and advocacy organization Autism Speaks that will use Google’s Cloud platform to store the genomes of people with autism and their families. The goal is create an open-access database for scientists around the world to analyze.

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        17. By their own admission, Google has a diversity problem

        Its first ever diversity report revealed that just 30% of its employees are women and a combined 5% are Black or Hispanic.

        18. Historically, Google has been consistent, if nothing else, with its hiring of women

        Coincidentally (or not),  6 of its first 21 employees (or 29%)  were women–the 21st, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, is probably the most high-profile woman associated with Google.

        19. Google can read your mind

        It’s been doing that since 1 April, 2000.  Don’t believe it? Enter Google’s MentalPlex and find out for yourself. And if you believe that, then you probably haven’t noticed the date on that website.

        20. Google had an internal white board that listed a plan to colonize Mars

        So says Google Employee no. 59 in his book, I’m Feeling Lucky. (A different white board photo, which featured the idea of orbital mind control,” is shown above as the feature image).

        “People would just write anything on [the Google white board], and [outsiders] would come and say, “Is this for real?” said Edwards to Fast Company. “There was everything from Colonize Mars, to Take Over This Industry—all sorts of things that would not have gone over well with the Justice Department. They were all meant in jest,” he adds, “but were just close enough to reality that people would be like, Are they really gonna do that?”

        Featured photo credit: Google Whiteboard/Yoz Grahame via regmedia.co.uk

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        20 Fascinating, Little-Known Facts About Google

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        Published on January 18, 2019

        Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language

        Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language

        Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

        The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

        1. Duolingo

          Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

          Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

          The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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          Download the app

          2. HelloTalk

            HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

            There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

            What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

            Download the app

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            3. Mindsnacks

              Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

              You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

              Download the app

              4. Busuu

                Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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                The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

                When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

                Download the app

                5. Babbel

                  Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

                  Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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                  If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

                  Download the app

                  Takeaways

                  All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

                  Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

                  Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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