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|Wednesday, May 26, 2010|
Google made a rare and very un-Google-like public appearance yesterday in Southeast Portland. It was interesting to see a company that has brilliantly reinvented so many things over the past decade playing the role of a typical business, hobnobbing with economic development officials, handing out free pens and notebooks and boasting about economic impact. Then again, $512 million worth of economic impact in Oregon is a phenomenon worth boasting about.
This is a company that started without a business plan or a revenue source. Co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page worked on the assumption that if they greatly improved people’s ability to find information, the money would follow. They were right. The advertising system that now funds the far-flung Google empire is a money-making machine, not only for Google but also for thousands of small businesses such as Clive Coffee, which hosted yesterday’s event.
Indeed it is. Google’s three-line “sponsored link” text ads are brilliant in their simplicity. The price is set at auction, the rankings are based on relevance, and the advertiser only pays Google when someone clicks on the ad.
There are a lot of questions Google didn’t answer in yesterday’s event, particularly involving the company’s top-secret, electricity-gobbling server farm in The Dalles. But it is extremely difficult to fault the numbers Google did provide, along with the convincing story of economic opportunity that these numbers tell.
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