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."
- An Australian model, Liskula Cohen, has successfully convinced local courts to demand that Google reveal the identity of a Blogger user who called the woman a "skank."
- Google's efforts to digitize books has been mired in controversy, with individual authors as well as the National Writers Union, the William Morris Endeavor talent agency, the American Civil Liberties Union raising alarms and even the French government funding competitive projects.
- While Google Maps introduced its "Street View" feature in the Bay Area, it has raised serious privacy concerns. And it still hasn't covered some neighborhoods in San Francisco, including some of the poorest.
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.