No. 1...For Now

Google, which earned the top spot in this year's Fast 50, is like no other company I’ve visited in ten years at Fast Company, and I’ve explored the inner workings of some of the most creative organizations out there--from Dell to Disney, eBay to IBM, Motorola to the Mayo Clinic.

You don't hear complaints about bureaucratic obstacles, although Google now boasts more than 16,000 employees worldwide. You don’t hear about bottom-line pressure on new products. You hear about autonomy. You hear about speed. You hear about feedback from "Larry and Sergey and Eric" – co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt.

It's easy to see why Google attracts top engineers from Microsoft and Yahoo as well as independent-minded entrepreneurs. In many ways, Google still behaves like a start-up, although everybody knows that's impossible for a big company--isn't it? The Googleplex oozes creativity, fearlessness, and fun. The lingo (Nooglers, Googlers, Googly and so on) and culture are easy for outsiders to mock, but they're indicative of the closely-knit community that Google nurtures and protects with the utmost care.

That community might be put to the test soon. According to a new comScore report, U.S. Web users clicked on slightly fewer search ads in January than they did a year ago. Those clicks are the big moneymaker for Google. Is this a crack in the armor, perhaps? Nothing more than a post-holiday aberration? We'll see. Googlers think they have the answer for any significant slowdown--enough cash in the bank and the right culture. "We're strong believers that as long as we keep innovating, we won't have a lull," says Andy Rubin, the brains behind Android, Google's phone platform. "It's all about planting seeds."

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  • Subhashish Acharya

    I like Google. I like the simple user interface, the fast searches, the immense pull in the market , the great innovators and of course gmail.

    But , I really do not think its worthy enough to be a #1.The reason being : the expectations of a numero uno is really different. Let me actually state a couple of things here, and lets think about it for a while:

    1. We call Google as very innovative.Why is that?

    Google is famous for what, let me ask you? The search engine? I think the only good thing in a google search is the speed. Google search is actually very unstructured. Want to look into structured and methodical search? Go to www.clusty.com . Believe me , if you are an avid research geek, you will like it a lot. Note , search engine companies struggle because of processing power. You NEED money to sustain processing power. Google has ample of it.

    Ok , Google Maps are fascinating, with satellite imagery. How many times do you need satellite imagery though? Its fascinating. yes Correct, but what does it matter for you.

    Lets give google another chance. Gmail and Gtalk? Sure , I think putting the chat inside the email client was an amazing idea. Just amazing. Another amazing thing was structuring of emails , another phenomenal idea. Google hires the best ; yes and the most innovative ones, dont you think this is something minimal that we should expect.???

    Google talk. Amazing! It has amazing fidelity, but sadly I dont see anything further interesting like call conferencing and video conferencing. Is that too much to expect from 16000 innovative , sparkling innovative people. I think Technologically it is ( pardon me , but I really want to say it) really mediocre.

    I apologize for the comments, when the whole world probably proves me wrong, but nevertheless I wanted to put it straight that way.

    I later realized, Google is #1 in One thing. That is Marketing. It knows money is in marketing , not in technology. Thus they acquired Orkut and youtube. Simple market placing.

    I admire that.

    Last , 16000 people , with brilliant minds , wanting to make it big and doesnt have bureaucracy. Thats unbelievable. Google is not utopian. It just cannot be.

    Its a great company. I love google.