Google Marks 14 Years Organizing The World’s Information With Birthday Doodle

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The chameleonic Google Doodle is currently marking a very special occasion for Mountain View: today is the search giant’s 14th birthday.

The Birthday Doodle is a rather simplistic affair, compared to some Doodles past (playable Pac-Man was a particular highlight) — showing a layer cake that breaks down to spell out the Google logo, while the cake’s candles rearrange to chalk up the 14 years since Larry and Sergey set up their startup in a Menlo Park garage.

Google was incorporated in California in September 1998, and hired its first employee, Craig Silverstein, shortly after. The company now employees close to 55,000 staff globally — following its acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Here’s the headcount breakdown from Google’s Q2 2012 financial report

On a worldwide basis, we employed 54,604 full-time employees (34,311 in our Google business and 20,293 in our Motorola business) as of June 30, 2012, compared to 33,077 full-time employees as of March 31, 2012.

In the dark days before Google’s math nerds arrived to tackle the problem of speedily locating relevant data online, web users had to made do with search engines such as Yahoo! and — shudder to recall it — AltaVista.

As well as having a stated mission to organize the world’s information (and an implicit one to make pots of money from advertising), an epic quest that has seen Google spread its obsessive-compulsive tentacles from the web as viewed on desktop PCs to the mobile internet via apps and its own OS and beyond, it has also, from time to time, expressed its business philosophy via the phrase ‘don’t be evil’ — an informal slogan that has inevitably been used against it.

Being insanely successful and not being perceived as monstrously evil is a problem all the PhDs in Mountain View appear unable to solve.

Over the years Google has launched scores of products, from Gmail email to Google maps to the Chrome browser and the Android mobile OS, shuttered plenty of others, and acquired an epic list of companies. Biggies include YouTube, DoubleClick and, most recently, Motorola.

It has also got into a fair few fights — both directly and indirectly – while Mountain View’s relationship with governments around the world can best be described as love/hate.

Here’s to the next decade+ of Google’s growth. And rest assured, we’ll be seeing plenty more Google-induced teenage tantrums in those coming years.