Twenty years ago, Google started with an ambitious goal to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. At the heart, we want to build technology that helps as many people as possible, regardless of who you are or where you are in the world. As we celebrate our birthday this month, we’re reflecting on some of the progress we’ve made toward that end. The work is never done, but here are 20 highlights from the past two decades:
Finding answers … and making connections
1. Billions of people have used Google Search to find answers to (literally) trillions of questions every year—from “how to help my community” to “how to find home” to all the many small questions in between. With job search, we’ve helped connect 100 million people to job opportunities in 92 countries.
2. Google Maps has helped people find their way with driving directions in 240+ countries and territories, spanning 40 million miles of road—that’s 83+ trips to the moon and back. And by connecting people to 150 million places around the world, Maps helps communities and businesses grow. Most moving are the times when Maps has helped people find a sense of place in the world—from Rio’s favelas to one’s own memories.
3. People can now talk to their Google Assistant in more than 20 languages, and in some cases it can even keep up if you’re bilingual. You can ask about everything from fantasy football advice to help finding a parking spot, and do everything from meditate to order a coffee. In the car, the Assistant has helped people reach their destination on tens of millions of commutes, and has sent tens of millions of messages, helping people stay in touch while keeping their eyes on the road.
4. Translate helps over half a billion people ask for help, make new friends, and say "thank you" across 100+ languages. More than 143 billion words are translated every day—that’s more than 161,000 times the number of the complete works of Shakespeare.
Saving valuable time (and space!)
5. More than 500 million people use Google Photos every month, backing up more than 1.2 billion photos and videos per day. Photos has also freed up over 410 petabytes worth of space—that’s like more than 25 million 16GB devices—plus peace of mind knowing you'll always have room to capture more memories.
6. With the typing time reduced by Autocomplete in Search, we estimate people worldwide collectively save over 200 years of typing time per day!
7. Gmail’s Smart Compose, a new machine learning-powered experience that helps you write email faster, saves people from typing over 1 billion characters a week (to put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of nearly 4 million tweets).
Helping you stay safe online
8. One billion people visit the Google Account each year to access settings to safeguard their data and privacy.
9. Safe Browsing protects more than 3 billion devices from malware and phishing schemes, helping you browse the web with confidence.
10. And Gmail blocks nearly 10 million spam and malicious emails every minute, helping you keep your email and data safe.
Giving people tools and platforms to grow
11. Each year for the past five years, our search and advertising tools have helped provide more than $100 billion in economic activity to businesses, publishers and nonprofits across the United States. And we’re inspired by the stories of local and small businesses, from John’s Crazy Socks to American Hats, who are using the web to grow.
12. Google Play has helped developers grow app businesses and reach users in 190+ countries and across more than 2 billion Android devices. From an app that helps blind people see to a game that creates art, these creators are doing amazing things on our open platforms.
13. Since the start of 2017, we’ve trained more than 30 million people around the world in a range of digital skills, helping them start and grow businesses, learn to code, and find new careers.
Expanding access to learning opportunities
14. More than 25 million students worldwide are using Chromebooks in schools to share ideas, create projects, go on virtual field trips, and learn from each other and their teachers.
15. Art lovers and history buffs have marveled at artifacts from 1,500+ museums across 70 countries in Google Arts & Culture. From Abramovic to Zhengming, that’s thousands of artworks and 6 million photos, videos, manuscripts and other documents at your fingertips. And people have met more than 78 million selfie matches from 650+ institutions with Art Selfie.
16. People can access local versions of YouTube in 91 countries around the world across 80 languages—covering 95 percent of all internet traffic. And every day, people watch learning-related content over a billion times on YouTube.
Making an impact on a global scale 17. To help people in times of need, we’ve activated SOS Alerts to provide better access to emergency information in more than 200 crisis situations, and people have viewed Public Alerts—for things like storm warnings or hurricane evacuations—more than 1.5 billion times.
18. Since 2005, we’ve donated more than $1.5 billion to organizations working to help refugees and disaster victims, fight for equal justice, provide teachers with classroom equipment, and teach people new skills. And over the past four years Googlers have logged over a million hours (that’s 114 years’ worth!) volunteering in the communities where we live and work.
19. People have used Nest thermostats to save 25 billion kWh of energy—roughly enough to power Ireland for a year.
20. Thousands of developers have used TensorFlow, our open source tool for deep learning, to make farming more efficient in Japan and the Netherlands, predict wildfires and prevent deforestation, track whale migration and identify birdsong—and even detect cancer.
Google’s name is based on a number—a one with 100 zeroes after it. When we went public in 2004, the offering contained a math joke about the irrational number "e." Oh, and we call our campus headquarters the “Googleplex,” which, if it were spelled differently, would be a one followed by a googol of zeroes. You could say we’re numbers people.
But these numbers are different. They represent something incredibly meaningful—the billions of people who have posed a question, sent an email, opened a new tab, dragged a pin on a map, asked a big question. Billions of people who have found answers, gotten things done or started on a new adventure. Billions of people whose lives have gotten, just possibly, a little bit better or brighter thanks to something that we built.
Everything we’ve done for the past 20 years has been built with you in mind, and we’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity you’ve given us to be a part of your lives. And two decades in, we’re even more dedicated to building products and services that make a difference for you.
Posted by Emily Wood, Editor-in-Chief, The Keyword