Google reaches $1 trillion in value, even as it faces new tests

  • >>Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times
    Published: 2020-01-17 13:41:57 BdST

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Google's campus in Mountain View, California, Dec 4, 2019. Shares of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, hit a market capitalization of $1 trillion for the first time on Jan 16, 2020, joining Apple, Amazon and Microsoft to reach the once-unimaginable valuation. (Jason Henry/The New York Times)

Numbers have long held a special significance at Google.

When the internet company was founded in 1998, it based its name on the mathematical term “googol,” which refers to the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

When it filed to go public in 2004, it said it planned to raise $2,718,281,828, which was the sum of multiplying $1 billion with the mathematical constant “e.”

And in 2015 when it reorganized under a parent entity called Alphabet, it announced it would buy back shares worth $5,099,019,513.59, a figure derived from the square root of 26 — the number of letters in the alphabet.

On Thursday, Google hit another eye-popping number. The market cap of Alphabet vaulted above $1 trillion for the first time. That made it the fourth technology company — after Apple, Amazon and Microsoft over the past two years — to pass this once unimaginable valuation.

“So proud to see it hit the storied $1T market cap today!” Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive, said in a tweet Monday, prematurely celebrating the milestone. She said she remembered when Google had raised money at a $100 million valuation in 1999, the year she became employee No. 20.

Google reached its latest numerical milestone as it is facing some of its biggest tests. The Silicon Valley giant is bidding adieu to its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose love of math and disregard for Wall Street once embodied Google’s free spirit. Page, 46, and Brin, 46, said last month that they would step down from their executive roles.

As part of the transition, Sundar Pichai, a longtime deputy who has been Google’s chief executive since 2015, took the reins of what has been a changing company. While Page and Brin once said Google was not a conventional corporation, it has become just that in recent years.

Aiming to get a handle on its rising scale and size, Google has brought on professional managers like Ruth Porat, its chief financial officer, who joined from Wall Street in 2015. It also increasingly paid attention to curbing costs and monitoring the financial viability of its so-called moonshot projects, like self-driving cars or hot-air balloons that provide internet connectivity.