Google: What a Difference Five Years Makes

Google shocked the financial community with its high-priced stock, but now has worldwide hold on data

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009  |  Updated 12:47 PM PDT
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Google: What a Difference Five Years Makes

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Google's IPO made co-founders Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin very rich -- and very, very powerful.

Five years ago today, Google first offered shares in the company to the market in an initial public offering that could best be described as "non-traditional."

At the time, the company was almost exclusively known as a search engine. But flush with cash -- the co-founders are together worth nearly $25 billion, and the company as a whole $140 billion -- it has branched out into dozens of on line businesses.

Though that worldwide expansion and upending of business models hasn't come without controversy.

Google's moves appear in the news daily, and just today a number of stories highlight exactly how far the company has come in its goal "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Not to mention its difficulty living up to its pledge "Don't be evil."

Google has also expanded to create its own browser, Web-based software applications and mobile phone software to better create an all-Google on line environment that will allow users to jump from device to device without ever really leaving a Google data center.

Convenient? Yes. Profitable? Certainly. Troubling? There is an element of that as well.

Jackson West's digital life is as deeply dependent on Google as it once was on Microsoft.

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