FABULOUS TWENTY AWARDS Google leader: Focus on product

Twelve companies were honored as the Valley's fastest growing businesses.
BOARDMAN -- Forget the profit motive. Business owners are better off to focus on producing a good and useful product and letting the profit making come later.
That's the advice a top-ranking official for the popular Internet search engine company Google Inc. gave area business leaders this morning at the Fabulous Twenty Awards breakfast at Mr. Anthony's banquet center. The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber event recognizes the Mahoning Valley's fastest growing companies.
Keynote speaker Dr. Jim Reese, Google's chief operations engineer and a Canfield native, said the two Stanford University students who founded the giant search engine in a dorm room in 1999 were determined to organize "all the world's information" for easy access around the globe.
The young entrepreneurs chose Google, the word for 10 to the 100th power, to show just how ambitious their product plan was.
But they had no idea how they'd profit from it.
"Profit was never No. 1 on the list," Reese said.
Now valued at more than $15 billion, California-based Google has indexed more than 4 billion Web pages and aims to deliver search information in one second or less.
Its revenue comes mainly from advertising, Reese said, but the company also sells a business product he called Google in a Box, which allows a company to organize its Internet data internally.
Encouraging innovation
Google encourages innovation by allowing every engineer one free day a week to work on the project of their choice. Employees also work in teams of three to 10 people to generate ideas.
When a group comes up with an idea that the company believes is feasible, Google funds the project as it would a start-up venture and gives the participants stock options, Reese said.
One of the search engine's newest offerings, Google News, was designed by a company engineer in a weekend. The news search, which offers reports from 4,500 newspapers and other media outlets around the world, is one of about 13 new or expanded Google services Reese described.
"You've got to continue to innovate to maintain any business edge you may have," he said.
Reese said revenue from Google's recent stock offering will be used to expand its network, to offer more services and to acquire other companies. Google officials don't plan to offer quarterly guidance or growth projections, which Reese called "very unusual" for a public company.
"We want to run the company long-term, not short-term," he explained. "We want to focus on one-year, five-year and 10-year plans."
About the speaker
Reese has played a key role in managing Google's hardware and network infrastructure development. He implemented a highly automated system for remotely administering and monitoring the company's cluster of more than 15,000 linked servers.
He has a bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard and earned his medical degree from Yale, then worked as a neurologic and computer consultant for SRI International before joining Google.
The regional chamber, in partnership with Youngstown State University's Williamson School of Business, presented its Fabulous 20 Awards to area companies that demonstrated the most growth over the past year.
It makes sense to recognize growing businesses, said Steve Lewis, chairman of the chamber's board, because studies show that about 90 percent of the Valley's net job growth comes from the expansion and retention of companies.

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