Published at 2003-03-30 11:27:00
Some two weeks ago, Google announced from its Silicon Valley headquarters that it is going to base its new European Operations Centre in Dublin, Ireland. So what does this mean for the reputation of the information technology sector in Ireland, and to the people who will one day work for Google
Google is a powerful search engine used by web users around the globe for finding documents on the Internet. Using Google's simple web interface containing only a logo and text box to enter in your search query, this simple friendly face belies the technology that operates behind the scenes, with 10,000 machines in Silicon Valley carrying out approximately 150 million searches a day.
Google also stores cached copies of websites, allowing users to view old versions of current sites or to view sites that have long since disappeared, which is a common occurrence in the Internet flux. In 2001, Google bought old Usenet archives that include 20 years worth of discussion forums, with 700 million postings on 35,000 topics dating back to 1981. This gives Google access to an archive of data that is unsurpassed in previous history. If it is on the Internet, or indeed has ever been, chances are that Google's trusty BOT (an automated page indexing program) has found it and added it to Google.
Google began its life in the heady dot.com boom days of 1998, when two Stanford PhD students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, were so fed up with existing search engine limitations that they decided to program their own. Working from a garage, they developed a new system would search a page more thoroughly for its relevance to the user's query. The exact algorithm (formula) behind this system is a guarded secret, but it's new approach, dubbed the PageRank system, proved to be revolutionary.
In 1998 Sergey and Larry raised $1 million in venture capital to fund the new company, including $100,000 from Sun Microsystems founder Andy Bechtolsheim. The following year they had raised a further $25 million, but they have not needed to raise any further funding since, making an estimated $65 million in revenue by 2001. This money is mostly made by selling its software to other search engines, and through placing query-relevant advertisements discreetly alongside a user's search results.
The name "Google" is a variation on the word "googol", which is the number represented by 1 followed by one hundred zeros.
So what can the workers in Google's new centre in Dublin expect In Silicon Valley Google employs 500 staff in what is affectionately know as the "Googleplex", which contains a piano in the lobby, roller-hockey games in the car park, and a masseur to sort out those who over extend themselves at lunch time intervals.
Many of the 200 staff to be employed in Dublin will probably be technical support staff, furthering Dublin's increasing reputation as the call centre capital of Europe. Another factor that attracted Google to Dublin over Zurich, the other city bidding for the company's European centre, is the large amount of communications infrastructure built up by the Irish Government during the dot.com boom era, which is now vastly underused as many e-commerce companies have long since gone bust.
Certainly the staff in Ireland cannot expect large salaries, especially those in call centre roles, as Google has a reputation for being a tightly run, cost conscious company. It is for this reason alone, perhaps, that they have out lasted the dot.com boom and equally dramatic bust, and it is likely that they will continue to do so in the future.
As always, the Internet is available via:
For a detailed description of how the Google search engine works, read this fascinating article by my good friend David Callan:
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