Entrepreneurs

Google was started in this garage office in California 1998 — take a look inside

Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2003.
Kim Kulish | Corbis | Getty Images
Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2003.

Today, Google is an $800 billion tech behemoth with nearly 90,000 employees spread around the world. But, 20 years ago, Google was a fledgling internet company consisting of its two founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, working out of a garage.

Now, you can see what it was like for Page and Brin to work out of that cramped garage in 1998, thanks to a new virtual tour posted online by Google on Thursday.

Google is celebrating its 20th birthday today (though the company was officially incorporated on September 4, 1998, Google marks its anniversary each year on September 27). The company is marking its two-decade celebration by recreating the Menlo Park, California garage where Page and Brin first launched the website.

Google historians can now take a virtual tour of Google's earliest office in new street-view 360-degree images from Google Maps. The images are titled "Susan's Garage," a reference to Susan Wojcicki, who rented the garage of her Menlo Park home to her friends, Page and Brin, when they were Ph.D. students at Stanford looking to get their new company off the ground.

Take a look.

A Google Street View image.
Source: Google
A Google Street View image.

Google's recreation of the small garage office in street-view includes a wooden work bench with a single 20-year-old desktop computer displaying an image of the beta version of Google's original logo and homepage. There are also a lot of stacked cardboard boxes, exposed wires, heating ducts, a washer-dryer, and a beer bottle.

A Google Street View image of the garage where Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the company.
Source: Google
A Google Street View image of the garage where Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the company.

You can even explore other rooms of Wojcicki's old house, where you can see more old desktop computers, a hockey jersey with Brin's name on the back, and a decidedly low-tech whiteboard featuring the phrase "Google Worldwide Headquarters."

A Google Street View image recreating what it looked like inside Susan Wojcicki's house in 1998.
Source: Google
A Google Street View image recreating what it looked like inside Susan Wojcicki's house in 1998.

Of course, Wojcicki later became Google's 18th employee and is now the CEO of Google-owned YouTube. In 2015, she said she charged Page and Brin $1,700 per month to rent the space in her garage. Wojcicki, who was working in the marketing department at Intel at the time, needed help with the rent at her four-bedroom house.

"[Rent] is even more expensive now, but it was expensive back then," she said in an interview at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference three years ago.

Wojcicki even took a security deposit from the two computer scientists, who had previously been working out of their Stanford dorm rooms on the algorithm that would power Google's search engine.

Page and Brin moved into the garage in September 1998, a month after they received a $100,000 investment from Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Later that year, Google picked up more investment money, including from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who met the pair through an Amazon employee and eventually invested a reported $1 million in the startup. (Bezos' initial stake in the company would be worth nearly $4 billion today, based on Google's current stock price.)

By March 1999, Page and Brin moved Google into actual offices in Palo Alto. That year, the company reported $220,000 in annual revenue — a number that grew to nearly $1 billion by 2003. That same year, Google leased an office complex in Mountain View, California, which is now the site of the "Googleplex," the company's 2 million square-foot headquarters, which houses over 20,000 employees. Page is now CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, while Brin is president.

Along with the virtual look at Google's humble beginnings, the company is also celebrating its birthday with other fun features like a new animated Google Doodle on its homepage and an interactive graphic showing some of the most popular Google searches of the past 20 years and other interesting tidbits. (Fyi: "Orlando Bloom was the most searched actor of 2003 and 2004."

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