Facebook vs. Google
They’re the two undisputed success stories of the internet age, and arguably two of the coolest brands on the planet. But who’ll win out when we put them head-to-head?
Ah. Look at little-wittle Facebook! So cute in its blue hoody! And such a big boy now… At only seven years old next month, Facebook has grown at an unprecedented rate. It was founded by the now famous Mark Zuckerberg and friends while they were at Harvard University. It was the perfect business model; they only let Harvard students join at first (more than half signed up in the first month), then expanded it to other Ivy League schools, then other universities, then the world. Three other students accused Zuckerberg of stealing their ideas; they later sued and the case was settled.
Google is nowhere near so cute. It’s in the awkward teenage years, moodily playing records in its bedroom before stomping off to the park to drink cider on the bench. It was started in 1996 (making it 15 this month) by two PhD students at Stanford University. It was a new type of search engine ranking that proved effective, and the company was incorporated in 1998, working out of a garage. In 1999 the founders attempted to sell the site as it was taking up too much of their time. It’s just as well they didn’t – the company floated in 2004 with a valuation of $23 billion. For staying on top so long (in the digital realm), Google wins.
Revenue in 2009 is estimated at a relatively puny $800 million, with no recorded profits. The site employs more than 1,700 people in 12 countries.
Revenue in 2009 was more than $23.6 billion, with profits of $6.5 billion. The company employs 24,400 people, according to 2010 figures. It runs one million servers around the world and processes more than a billion search requests every day.
Kipp doesn’t like it when young people are way, way more successful than it, so we’ve nothing but envy and hatred for baby faced geek hero, Mark Zuckerberg. He was Time magazine’s person of the year for 2010 for the incredible influence Facebook has had on the world, and judging from his background, he’s one smart cookie too. He excelled in various subjects at school, and on his college application said he can read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek. He’s since been learning Chinese. The smug so and so also gives a small fortune to charity.
Bet you’re thinking Eric Schmidt, right? Well you’d be wrong. Schmidt is the CEO right now, but he just announced that, come April, co-founder of Google Larry Page will take over the search engine. Page is older than Kipp, which makes his success slightly more bearable. His parent’s were computer science professors and he got into computers when he started playing around with stuff lying around the house. His ideas were the basis for Google – Eric Schmidt was simply hired as CEO in 2001. We’re sure he’s a great guy, but for doing so much, so young, we give it to Zuckerberg.
Facebook seems to have contented itself with concentrating on its own growth, rather than ploughing money into other companies. True, it has bought the odd company, including social network aggregator FriendFeed, but it hasn’t been nearly as busy as Google.
Google does not want to give up its hard won status as the go-to tech giant. To protect its supremacy, it is constantly acquiring smaller, companies, with no fewer than 86 acquisitions to date. Investments include $1 billion in AOL, and $3.1 billion in an online ad agency called DoubleClick. Hey big spender.
Okay, so we all know they dominate the online world, but the future is mobile, we’re reliably told. Facebook knows this, and is working hard to ensure that users can manage a Facebook account from practically any phone – yes, not just smartphones, where it is already well established. The social site launched an app this week that will work on 80 percent of the world’s feature phones (you’re average phone – not as smart as a smartphone, but not as dumb as a dumb phone).
Google wants to be on mobile. It needs to be on mobile. So much so, that it is a key player leading the charge against Apple’s iPhone. In 2005 it bought Android Inc, a small company making a mobile operating system. That system is for smartphones, and it is now massively popular, with Android operated smartphones beginning to outsell the iPhone. That’s the beauty of it, you see – it’s open source, meaning many handset manufacturers use it. Meanwhile Google manages many aspects of the system, including the app store. Very clever.
Kipp checked through countless “Top 100 brands” lists and the like, to see what you the people think is the coolest brand. Given some of the stuff we saw on the lists, we can only conclude that ‘the people’ are idiots. So instead of referring to them, we’ll just say, we think Facebook is the coolest brand. But not by much.
Sure, Facebook got itself into some hot water with the whole issue of privacy, but it seems to have redeemed itself in most people’s eyes. Meanwhile, Google’s attempts to encourage a two tier web (sorry, you’ll have to look it up, we don’t have time to explain here!) are very uncool. Besides which, Google is getting on in years now. People want change, and their gradual drift towards a closed network like Facebook suggests a new era is upon us.
Facebook has its own high budget Hollywood movie devoted to it, directed by David Fincher and featuring a host of stars. And it’s hotly tipped to collect some serious awards come Oscar time. To “Facebook” someone has become a term in popular usage, meaning either message, or look up.
Google is the default search engine and probably home page for half the world, it seems. And, let’s face it, there can be hardly anyone who has used the internet that hasn’t “googled” for information on a person, place or thing. It’s just what you do. Like saying you are hovering, when using a vacuum. But while Google is a tool, Facebook seems to be actually changing the way people live and interact.