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SAN FRANCISCO — In five mind-blowing years, Google has blossomed from a nerdy college experiment to a mainstream sensation so ubiquitous that its goofy name is now synonymous with looking things up.

Millions of people turn to the Internet search engine every hour, trusting Google to speed through its index of 3 billion Web pages to find just about anything imaginable.

In a less than a second, Google routinely finds lost friends, merchandise, pop trivia, academic research, news, pornography and even references to God, to whom Google has been compared.

“It’s hard to imagine a day when I’m not using Google for something,” said Todd Goldman, a 37-year-old marketing executive in Silicon Valley. “I can almost always find what I’m looking for on the first or second page of results. It’s almost like black magic.”

Google’s seemingly mystical powers inspires awe and dread — reverence for the search engine’s apparent omniscience, and fear about its Big Brother potential.

“It’s way too powerful,” said Daniel Brandt, a fierce Google critic who started a Web site to air his misgivings. “It’s scary because if Google drops you, you could be out of business in no time.”

Google’s influence is perhaps best measured by the 200 million search requests it processes per day, up from 40 million just three years ago.

The steady growth has turned Google into one of the Internet’s biggest success stories, and made the still relatively small company of 1,000 employees a target for some formidable foes. Both Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are searching for ways to steal Google’s thunder in a showdown that could reshape the way people find their way around the Internet.

“Google has a lot of smart people who have built a great search engine, but there are a lot of other smart people out there looking for ways to make search engines even better,” said Tara Calishain, author of “Google Hacks,” a book about Google’s hidden treasures.

Yahoo has committed nearly $2 billion to its Google counterattack. Microsoft is devoting an unspecified portion of its $49 billion war chest to building a better search engine.

Privately held Google isn’t saying how it intends to protect its franchise. Company executives declined to be interviewed, preferring to focus on the Google mantra of “delivering the best search experience on the Internet.”

Google apparently has ambitious growth plans. The company just signed a lease to move its Mountain View headquarters across town to a space five times larger — a 500,000-square-foot complex now occupied by a fallen Silicon Valley star, Silicon Graphics Inc.

The push to topple Google is being driven by new marketing approaches that have turned search engines

AP photo/Randi Lynn Beach

Google’s co-founders, Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin, rest on bean bags at Google’s headquarters on Nov. 11, 2000, in Mountain View, Calif.

into profit machines.

Advertisers spend big for prominent listings in specially marked search results — $2 billion this year, with robust growth forecast for the rest of this decade.

For now, at least, no one is better positioned to reap the rewards than Google.

Yahoo and Microsoft “are spending a ton of money to get something that Google has built from the ground up and has been fine-tuning for years,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, an industry newsletter. “That gives Google a great advantage.”

Sullivan believes Microsoft might seek to buy Google rather than try to play catch-up. Neither Microsoft nor Google have expressed any public interest in a marriage.

reduced their emphasis on search in the late 1990s, Google introduced a system that made it easier for people to find things quicker.

Google’s technology is built around a secret formula called “PageRank” that rates the relevance of Web sites based on the number of links from other relevant Web sites. The method has raised concerns that Google has created a caste system in which a group of elite Web sites largely determine the popularity of other sites.

But Web surfers have embraced the approach. “Googling” information has become so popular that Google.com attracts some of the heaviest traffic on the Web. Only Microsoft’s MSN.com, AOL and Yahoo lure more visitors in the United States.

With one of the world’s most recognized brands, Google would likely demand a hefty price. No one will know for certain what Google is worth until it makes a long-awaited initial public offering of its stock — something insiders say won’t likely happen until next year at the earliest.

Google’s revenue this year is expected to range between $700 million to $1 billion. Google has been profitable for at least two years, an advantage that has limited the number of investors since founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the company in their Stanford University dorm rooms in 1998.

Google’s reach also extends beyond its own Web site. The company licenses its results to a wide variety of other sites, including Yahoo and AOL.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo is expected to drop Google from its search engine eventually, because it just bought two other search engine makers, Inktomi Corp. for $280 million and Overture Services Inc. for $1.6 billion. Yahoo won’t discuss its long-term plans for Google.

Ironically, Page, 30, and Brin, 29, may not have started Google if not for the advice of Yahoo co-founder David Filo, another former Stanford student.

After getting $1 million from a handful of family and friends, Page and Brin raised $25 million from venture capitalists in 1999 and another $10 million from Yahoo in 2000 when the two companies were more friendly. Google hasn’t needed another infusion since.

Much of Google’s success stems from the intense loyalty of its users. While Yahoo and other Internet portals

Heartened by Filo’s encouragement, Page and Brin raised enough venture capital to fund their ambitions. To celebrate the financing, the partners held a coming-out party at Stanford, in offices named after someone who is now no doubt craving the Google buzz — Microsoft founder Bill Gates.


LMTBusiness Journal

August 11, 2003




Leading Laredo’s leaders

Chamber program recruiting members for upcoming leadership class

BY CHUCK OWEN LMTBusiness writer

Leadership Laredo is gearing up for a new class to




leadership for tomorrow.





recruitment of a new class is a dinner set for Aug. 21 at the Executive Club, located in the Walker Plaza Building.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m.

A highlight for the evening

will be





Association player with the Dallas Mavericks, who is the headlined guest speaker for

the recruitment


Johnson will


appropriately, on the subject of leadership.

Johnson was with the San Antonio Spurs for their 1999 NBA championship but since has moved to the Dallas Mavericks.

Johnson also did a number of commercials for IBC following the 1999 Spurs championship. Also, for the last four years he has been a regular in Laredo at the Boys and Girls Club and at Parks and Recreation events. Johnson was a player/coach with the Mavericks in the Western Conference playoffs this year against the Spurs.

Leadership Laredo’s vision statement is “To empower and educate future leaders of Laredo about current issues affecting the community.” And that is what this recruitment is

all about. Leadership



sponsored by the Laredo Chamber of Commerce’s education committee.

Formed in 1986, the first class was in 1987, and each year new individuals have been inducted and have spent time in the year following learning more about what

makes Laredo Laredo, termed the largest inland port in the United States, Gateway to Mexico and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

Julie Tarvin of International Bank of Commerce is the incoming president of Leadership Laredo, Class of





communications director for Laredo Independent School District. Tarvin was president- elect last year.

Tarvin, originally from Ohio, came to Laredo to work for IBC in 1994. She is a first vice president at IBC, manager of accounting. She was in the 1999-2000 Leadership Laredo class.

The time

recruitment dinner is a




applicants and



awards for




Tarvin said that the dinner is open to the public and will be $25 per ticket, reservations are requested to the Laredo Chamber of Commerce at 722-9895.

Applications for the coming Leadership Laredo class can be picked up at the chamber

offices, website



chamber at

www.laredochamber.com or at the dinner. Applications will be accepted at the chamber until 5:30 p.m. Sept. 3, Tarvin said.

Included in the application will be a narrative by the applicant on what they want to get out of the class as well as what the applicant considers to be some of the major issues facing Laredo, she said.

The board of directors is looking for 25 to 30 participants this year, she said.

“We are looking for active people,” Tarvin said. She


spoke of people who are in some leadership role or who have been volunteering in the community.

Since Laredo obviously does not stand still, each year the Leadership Laredo’s class curriculum changes enough to include the latest issues facing the community. Such will be the case this coming

year. The




include some 10 seminars of two to three hours each, to be accomplished between October and June. Tarvin said seminar subjects will include an orientation of what the Laredo Chamber of Commerce is, leadership — how to lead a project, Laredo history and trends, health, human resources, education, government, culture and entertainment, business and environment.

Leadership Laredo is an outgrowth of an experience several local women had in 1985 attending Leadership Texas. One of the women was Dianne Freeman, who happened to be the Laredo Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, as it was called at the time. Others attending Leadership Texas

Class of 2002 – 2003:

Bertha Barrientos, South Texas Workforce Development Board Cindy Burdorf, Laredo Bucks Sandra Cardenas, Primerica Financial Gail Chamberlain, Laredo National Bank Sergio Contreras, Southwestern Bell Tom Corti, Texas A&M International University Alan Curry, Falcon International Bank Eric De King, Daniel B. Hastings, Inc. Robert Eads, Laredo Chamber of Commerce Luciano Flores, Falcon International Bank Kimberly Folse, TAMIU Marisol Franco, TAMIU R.J. Garza, El Metro Jaime Gomez Jr., AEP-CPL Blanca Gonzalez, Laredo National Bank Kristina Gonzalez, Kristi-Lin’s Academy Sergio Gonzalez, International Bank of Commerce Xavier Gonzalez, IBC Angelica Madrigal, Junior Achievement Albert Maldonado, IBC Rodolfo Montalvo, Webb County Juvenile Justice Lupita Narvaez, U.S. Attorney’s Office Monica Ortiz, Laredo Chamber of Commerce Sandra Pena, TAMIU Lizeth Perez, LNB Miguel Pescador, City of Laredo Parks and Recreation Juan Ramirez, self-employed, UISD Board of Trustees Francisco Rangel, Falcon International Bank Deirdre Reyna, Laredo Morning Times Cecilia Rios, AEP-CPL Karla Robles, City of Laredo Community Development Juanita Soliz, TAMIU Mary Trevino, TAMIU

that year were Elma Salinas Ender, Minita Freeman, Linda Howland and Audrey Plotkin. It was that trip that brought Leadership Laredo as a local

leadership endeavor.


Miguel Conchas, now chamber president, worked for the chamber at the time as director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Looking back, the class rosters read like a “who’s who” from Laredo. More than 300 individuals from a wide array of local affiliations have participated in Leadership Laredo since its inception.

Class members for the 2002-

graduate from the course at

the Aug. dinner.



Leadership Laredo is self- funded for the most part, Conchas said. Each participant pays an entrance fee of $250 and the group has various fundraisers throughout the year. Also, there are sponsorships for such things as the annual recruitment dinner, which helps to not only defray costs but adds to the bankroll of the group.

(LMTBusiness writer Chuck Owen can be reached at 728- 2547 or email chucko@lmtonline.com)





LMTBusiness Journal

August 11, 2003


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