Google’s growth since its IPO is simply amazing

Back in the desktop web search heyday.
Back in the desktop web search heyday.
Image: AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Google went public 10 years ago today.

And it was obvious even then that Google—already the world’s top search engine—was an ambitious, powerful company. “This is not a publicity stunt,” said Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder—and later, an early Facebook investor, in a CNN Money article.

But it’s also impressive just how much Google has grown since then—both in its business metrics and its influence over the world. The company will likely cross the 50,000-employee mark this quarter. Google is investing in projects ranging from self-driving cars to artificial intelligence.

Here are five charts that do a pretty good job summarizing Google’s last 10 years as a public company.

A financial success

Google revenue and operating income chart

Google’s revenue has grown to $16 billion last quarter—including $4 billion in operating income—from $800 million the quarter it went public. Google still generates 90% of its sales from advertising—mostly on its owned-and-operated sites, including its search engine, Gmail, and YouTube.

The global search leader

Google search share since 2004 chart

Google’s search engine—its original product—still dominates. When Google went public, it was almost neck-and-neck with Yahoo in search market share, according to comScore. Google has since stabilized at just below 70% share in the US. (The share is higher in most other countries.) Almost no rival companies are chasing.

The dominant mobile platform

Google Android market share

Google’s second-most important product—today, at least—is Android, the world’s most popular smartphone platform. Google showed up “late” to the smartphone game in 2008—offering Android as a free rival to handset makers, who had just been stunned by Apple’s iPhone, and could no longer count on Microsoft Windows or Symbian as competitive platforms. But Android has shown unprecedented growth, and could pass 1 billion unit sales this year.

A fast-growing workforce

Google headcount chart

As Google has prospered, it has invested heavily in its workforce. Besides a flat period during the recent recession, Google has been on a permanent hiring spree. It has added more than 8,000 employees over the past year—excluding Motorola—and is on pace to pass 50,000 employees this quarter. Googlers are working on a wide variety of projects, from Google search and YouTube to self-driving cars and Google Glass.

A solid investment

Google stock chart 2004 to 2014

Google investors have made out huge, too—shares are up more than 1000% from where they debuted 10 years ago. The broader market—reflected by the S&P 500—is up roughly 100% during that period. (Though Apple—Google’s close ally-turned-archrival—would have been an even better investment.)