Josh Tyrangiel, formerly managing editor of TIME magazine, presently editor of Bloomberg Business Week, interviewed Google’s Marissa Mayer, who joined Google in 1999 as a Stanford University grad. She shared a few anecdotal facts about Google:
• Google’s basic, white home page wasn’t conceived as some sort of ode to minimalism—it was pure necessity. “We don’t have a webmaster and I don’t do HTML,” Mayer recalls Google co-founder Sergey Brin saying.
• Mayer almost killed the idea of targeting ads against users’ e-mails, having initially considered the idea “creepy.” A colleague working an all-nighter ignored her rejection of the idea, and ads-in-e-mail later turned into Google’s AdSense, a multi-billion dollar business.
• Google has calculated that an ad on its home page would cost at least $10 million, if not more. Don’t get excited—the space isn’t for sale.
• Most Google pages sport a small copyright notice at the bottom. It’s not necessary, but company leaders installed the symbol after initial test users did nothing but stare at the home page, “waiting for the rest of it to load,” Mayer said. The symbol was a sign that the minimal page was loaded, ready for a search.
• Mayer once had an intense fascination with Motorola’s circa-1996 StarTAC mobile phone and bought used models on eBay to build a collection. (Google is now buying Motorola; there’s no connection.)