Looking at the State of Google

    May 8, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google held its annual stockholders’ meeting yesterday evening and to accompany that Co-founder Sergey Brin decided to re-share the 2008 Founders’ Letter, which was originally published on Google’s Investor Relations site. Brin says they wanted to make this more widely available so they posted it on the Official Google Blog.

Sergey Brin"Since 2004, when Google began to have annual reports, Larry and I have taken turns writing an annual letter," the letter begins. "I never imagined I would be writing one in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we have seen in decades. As I write this, search queries are reflecting economic hardship, the major market indexes are one half of what they were less than 18 months ago, and unemployment is at record levels."

The letter discusses the company’s past as well as the future. It specifically discusses search, YouTube, Books, Geo, Ads, Apps, Chrome, Android, and AI. Here are just a few interesting nuggets to pull away from it:

– In the past year alone we have made 359 changes to our web search — nearly one per day.

– Integrating images into search remains a challenge, primarily because we are so reliant on the surrounding text to gauge a picture’s relevance. In the future, using enhanced computer vision technology, we hope to be able to understand what’s depicted in the image itself.

– Every minute, 15 hours worth of video are uploaded to YouTube — the equivalent of 86,000 new full-length movies every week.

Today, we are able to search the full text of almost 10 million books.

– After the launch of Google Map Maker in Pakistan, users mapped 25,000 kilometers of uncharted road in just two months.

– Last year, AdSense (our publisher-facing program) generated more than $5 billion dollars of revenue for our many publishing partners.

– Today some Googlers have more than 25 gigabytes of email going back nearly 10 years that they can search through in seconds.

– Today, almost a third of all Google searches in Japan are coming from mobile devices — a leading indicator of where the rest of the world will soon be.

Within each category, the letter talks about ways that Google aims to improve, and that is perhaps the most intriguing part. The letter is a lengthy document, but if you’ve got some time to kill, it’s very interesting and worth reading. It’s pretty much a look at the state of Google on its many technological fronts.