The Mundane Realities of Running a Search Engine on a Budget

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There have been a few stories in the news this month about the costs behind running a search engine like Google. Thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at them, and see where some of the money goes.

The high cost of jetting around the globe, by the founders of Google, was an early story broken by the Wall Street Journal, who uncovered information about a purchase of a jet for Sergey and Larry. In Google founders’ heady purchase (no longer available), we hear a little about new luxury Boeing 767-200 intended to save a few dollars while letting the heads of Google fly where they want.

Office space for the search giant was another topic that emerged lately. There are some nice pictures of new Google Office spaces on real estate blog Curbed. Take a look Inside New Gooooogle’s New Chelsea Oooooffice. The pictures are of unfinished office space, but it’s a lot of space. Would love to see what it looks like once it’s been fixed up some.

Thinking about how much furniture will cost for this space, a more important question might be how much money it costs to run all of the thousands of computers one might find at a Google Data Center. Google’s vice president of operations, Urs Hoelzle, discusses that very topic in How Google battles its increasing power consumption . Just considering it makes my own utility bills much more easy to stomach.

Another topic surfacing about Google involves the high cost of hiring top-notch search scientists. The current hiring pace at Google is ten new employees a day. That’s a lot of search scientists, and they don’t come cheaply. One of the aspects of this hiring frenzy that I found interesting were the efforts to hire more female engineers.

One of the issues raised in Google’s most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission noted that the search engine was looking to outsource “worldwide billing, collection and credit evaluation functions to a third-party service provider, Bertelsmann AG.” That sounds like a good idea to me. The company would also track Adsense revenue sharing agreements.

It sounds like the running of a large search giant could be as complex a task as the search algorithms that power the company’s search results. I don’t think that I’d want to do it.

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2 thoughts on “The Mundane Realities of Running a Search Engine on a Budget”

  1. Hello, Bill Slawski.

    I have been wondering for a while if the budget for running a search engine like Google is almost as high than their global benefits. I don’t really think so, but I would love to have your advice on this question as of 2011. I imagine hiring all theses employees and building all these new infrastructures like their chelsea office can be costly. But I still doubt it costs them that much compared to the billions dollars they weight. What’s your point on that? (it’s for a personnal study.)

  2. Hi John,

    What little I might know about Google’s budget is from the financial statements that they are required to publish as a public corporation, and the prognostications of people who write about those types of topics, but I can’t claim to know very much on that topic.

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