It was 15 years ago in this very garage that a young Larry Page and Sergey Brin started building one of the the world’s largest tech companies. Google’s co-founders rented the space — along with three rooms inside the house — while they were still living in the dorms at Stanford, less than two miles away. (The co-founders used Stanford’s servers to host their new search engine.)
Google now owns the house and doesn’t use it for much. On Thursday, the company announced changes to Google’s search product from the garage to commemorate its 15th anniversary.
Google is celebrating its 15th birthday on Friday. Google celebrates its birthday every year on Sept. 27, although the co-founders originally filed for incorporation in the state of California on Sept. 4, 1998.
The Google.com domain name was filed on Sept. 15, 1997. So why is the company birthday on the 27th? Because Google says it is, and who are we to argue?
Susan Wojcicki, now a senior VP at Google, owned the home when the two young men from Stanford came looking for office space. Wojcicki had just finished getting her MBA and was worried about covering her mortgage. “I didn’t know I’d be renting it out to a company like Google,” she joked on Thursday at a press event at the house.
Wojcicki says that the garage has not changed much since Page and Brin used it in the winter of 1998. Even the blue carpet remains the same. Wojcicki says she put the carpet in to make the boys feel more at home when they first moved in.
Because Page and Brin were using the garage for work, there was always an issue when it came to parking, says Wojcicki. Menlo Park didn’t allow street parking at night during that time, she says, so the Google employees and home owners had to get “creative.”
Google had a whiteboard in one of the house’s back rooms that read: “Google’s Worldwide Headquarters.” The company stayed in Wojcicki’s home until January when it had seven employees. Then both parties decided it was time to relocate.
After the group moved to new offices, Susan decided she wanted to work for Google. (She went through the interview process and everything, she says.) As the company’s first marketing manager, she remembers asking the co-founders who they wanted to market to. Their response: “Everybody.”
Despite the late nights and daily comings and goings, Wojcicki says that there were never any complaints from neighbors about the company taking up lodging in the house.
The garage wasn’t only used for work. Wojcicki says Brin and Page kept a ping pong table in the garage as well. (Rumor has it there was a jacuzzi out back that was a favorite of the co-founders, but it wasn’t on display during Thursday’s press announcement.)