On September 4, 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both PhD students at Stanford University at the time, founded a company named Google. Back then, there was little indication that the business they had started in their college dorm rooms and then moved to a Menlo Park garage would eventually become a trillion-dollar company, turning its founders into two of the wealthiest people in the world.
Over the past 25 years, Google has not only become synonymous with internet search but has also introduced several other online services that our now used by billions of people around the world. From the introduction of Gmail in 2004 to the billion-dollar acquisition of YouTube in 2006 and the release of Android in 2008, Google has continually shaped people’s digital lives, while tools like Google Maps have facilitated navigating the real world.
Funded by its core search and advertising business, Alphabet – Google’s parent company created in a restructuring in 2015 – continues to push the boundaries of innovation in its “Other Bets” division, which comprises of R&D-heavy ventures such as autonomous driving project Waymo or DeepMind, the company’s AI research lab.
Having gone public on August 19, 2004 at a valuation $23 billion, Google/Alphabet is now worth more than $1.7 trillion, making it one of the largest public companies in the world, trailing only Apple, Microsoft and Saudi Aramco, all currently valued above $2 trillion. Anyone who bought Google shares in the company’s IPO roughly 19 years ago and was smart enough to hold on to them through the financial crisis, the post-Covid tech crunch and several other ups and downs, can now look back at a sizeable return or even a small fortune, depending on the initial investment.
As our chart shows, an initial investment of $1,000 at the IPO price of $85 would now be worth more than $65,000. A $5,000-investment is now worth more than $300k and anyone lucky enough to bet a little more than $15,000 on Google in 2004 is now sitting on $1 million worth of Alphabet shares. But as we all know: hindsight is golden.