From beta to bona fide

Google, a favorite search engine of the plugged-in crowd, uses its $25 million in venture funding to launch a site almost unchanged from the "test" version.

Published September 23, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

This week, an exciting new search engine launched that promises to revolutionize the way we find information online! Clean, simple, easy to use! This new search site uses sophisticated text-matching and a patent-pending ranking system to provide you with accurate results. is the last -- or, at least, the latest -- word in search technology!

Of course, if you're truly plugged in, you've probably already been using Google for the last year or so; the engine's fans like its speed and clean presentation. The site may have launched on Wednesday, but it's been online, as a not-very-well-kept secret, since 1998. As the Google press release brags, the "beta" version of the site drew a dedicated following that racked up an impressive three and a half million searches per day -- or 65 searches per second at peak times. Not bad for a beta.

So what's new at "launch?" The site doesn't look any different -- other than a slightly doctored logo, which includes some fancy drop-shadows and eliminates the word "beta." Google has also unveiled a new feature, called the GoogleScout, which lets you expand a search to include related information about your topic, such as a company's competitors. Otherwise, it's the same, streamlined search engine we've learned to love, in all of its spare, speedy glory.

Perhaps the most significant changes promised by this "launch" can be glimpsed in the new "About Google" and "Jobs@Google" buttons. Google, which started its beta life as a project by a few Stanford students, has in the last four months managed to pull in $25 million in investments, from such heavyweight venture capital firms as Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. And according to Google's jobs page, the company is now frantically hiring engineers and marketing managers.

Expect to see Google start a new marketing push, in hopes of competing with the big-daddy portals -- Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, and the like -- while the company strives toward fat returns for its high-profile investors. But let's hope, now that it's graduated from beta to bonafide, that the search engine won't start to clutter up its gorgeous, streamlined look with "buy" buttons, sponsored links and the other useless features that so many search engines rely on for profits.

By Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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