Dec 162009
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

If anyone is going to take over the world it’s Google. It owns ridiculous amounts of information about you — your search habits, IP addresses and so forth.

This 5-year-old company is No. 117 on the Fortune 500 list and No. 1 in revenue growth in the past five years. Not surprising since it didn’t have much revenue at all six years ago, and it was merely a primordial soup cooking in a Harvard dorm.

We wish Spoons in Allison Hall would serve primordial soup at lunch. Oh well.

Notice Google is tops in revenue and not profit. They spend a lot of money developing and maintaining. It made more than $21.7 billion in 2008, but spent $17.5 billion. Google likes to spend money, you see.

Just think of everything it develops and then offer for free. Google Maps and most versions of Google Earth. G-mail. The new Web browser and soon-to-be-operating-system, both called Chrome. It’s highly anticipated and newly-released 2.0 version of Android. It’s cell phone operating system. Google Voice. Google Wave. A hundred other things you’ve probably never heard of. All for free.

Glen was recently talking with CSU doctoral student, researcher and defacto Web developer Greg Newman from the Natural Resources Department when these questions came up: How can Google offer all of this for free, and how does it still make money without selling products and services? We thought Google may have to start charging or risk going out of business.

Of course, most of us know that Google is at the forefront of the online advertising market. Most Internet ads you see probably contain a little logo in the corner that says “Powered by Google” or “AdSense” (another Google-owned ad service). Google knows the online advertising business well.

Did you know that Google writes checks to YouTube stars who draw high view counts because of the ads embedded on those peoples’ videos? You can even make money by signing up for AdSense on your personal blog. Sadly though, between you and your mom’s 20 or so hits a week, you’ll probably only make a few bucks every year.

Every time you click on one of Google’s millions of ads they make a little bit of the green stuff. You don’t even have to click your mouse. Some of the bigger, more annoying ads make Google money just by being obnoxious. When we say a little we mean little, we mean cents. However, when you start talking about millions upon billions of clicks and views, you start talking about a company worth more than $100 billion.

So if all Google has to do is let people click on its ads all day long, what could they possibly be spending more than 80 percent of their yearly earning on? Taking over the world.

You see, as Google continues to roll out new products it is putting themselves in front of more and more people. More people equals more clicks, and more clicks means more money. Try to think of how long it’s been since you last used a Google product. If your answer was anything more than a week ago, as far as technology is concerned, you don’t exist.

So no, just because Google doesn’t charge for most services does not mean it will die off soon. It would be interesting to see what would happen if/when the online advertising bubble pops like the dot com era bubble did, but we’d rather see it go on.

So where does that leave us? Well, we’re the oblivious slaves clicking away, driving Google closer and closer to world domination. Sure it sounds scary, but if Google enslaving the human race means we get use the new Droid and all the coolest technology can be downloaded for free, well maybe things wont be so bad. After all, Google’s corporate motto has been from the beginning: “Don’t be evil.”

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer enjoy Googling themselves from time to time. When they’re feeling lonely. Don’t let them feel lonely … Send comments to

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