“What our company is about”

Back in late 2001, Fortune Small Business ran a piece on Google that opened with this priceless puff of PR:

Not long ago, when a frequent Web surfer started having chest pains at work, he decided to search the Internet to find out what to do if he had a heart attack. He started using one search engine, but it was too slow because the banner ads were loading, so he switched to Google. After getting the information he needed, he headed to the hospital immediately. Later that day, he had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery. He was so grateful for the information he’d received that he sent a letter of thanks to Google’s founders.

“Not only did our search engine save his life, but it shows that these decisions – like whether to use text-based or graphical ads – matter,” says Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. “That was an extreme case, but I think in daily life having quick access to all the world’s information is important to people, and that’s what our company is about.”

Today, Google announces its new partnership with AOL, the terms of which, according to the New York Times, include the introduction of graphical ads on search results pages: “Users of Google’s search engine will soon see something they are not used to on the notoriously spare site: advertising with logos and graphics.”

So if you start having chest pains at work, you might want to call 911 and take a couple of aspirin before you start searching.

7 thoughts on ““What our company is about”

  1. vinnie mirchandani

    not a great move. AOL was the conduit for more senseless ads and spam that any other ISP..if Google is innovation, AOL is utility. I would spend $ 1 b differently – like in the enterprise space ..in the overall scheme of things many many more times money still goes to IBM, EDS, HP, Oracle, Accenture…

  2. S

    I don’t understand why Google would buy up AOL and promise to “poison” its algoritihm. Surely they know that it’s going to act like a catalyst for all sorts of bad vibes as far as their reputation as a trustworthy search engine is concerned.

    Well, perhaps I do. If Mircosoft had won AOL there, it would be the old cut-off-oxygen-supply technique. So I guess, in a way, they were locked into two choices – either let Microsoft kill a sizable portion of their profits, or snap up AOL and just wear out the bad atmosphere it helps to generate.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but recently, that ‘bad atmosphere’ has been really congregating around Google. It’s beginning to stink. That’s the general vibe I am getting from the blogosphere and public opinon. Granted, there always will be the fanatics who can’t see Google in any other light than a good one, but that’s nothing new.

    But these are all just the observations from a casual observer, so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt (or a whole truckload).

  3. Mike UK

    Well that’s just crytalised my feelings about a join up with AOL. I first saw the web in the early 90’s and from that moment on I have never liked the way AOL worked and have always given it a very wide birth. There was a time when I thought AOL and Google were the antithisis of each other. What now?

  4. Jake

    I may not agree with everything you write, but, damn if you don’t come up with some of the best slams on the ‘Net.

    This was an NBA three-pointer.

  5. Oskar Shapley

    After reading the first half of the quoted article I was expecting it to end in a counter-climax: how that guy wouldn’t be able to find the information today, because Google’s front page became a higly valuable piece of real estate for search engine spammers.

    The search page for ‘heart attack’ is now cluttered with two kinds of sponsored links, but fortunately the first link is a valueable one: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/actintime/

    Still, I wonder what the situation looks like with other search topics.

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