ChurchETHOS

Going Gaga for Google

Posted in environment, social justice by Nathan Creitz on August 20, 2008
Well, it is now official…I own Google. I actually only own about 1/10th of one share through my mutual fund, but I take pride in it. For the longest time I have been one of Google’s best viral marketers. I was inviting people to gmail when you still had to have an invitation to get gmail. There are a lot of reasons why I love Google, but recently I discovered a few more reasons to love them so I thought I would highlight my best reasons to go gaga for Google.
Google’s Philosophy
Most people know about Google through their extensive line of products, but one look at their philosophy and it’s easy to see why they have become such a successful company. According to Google’s own site “The perfect search engine,” says Google co-founder Larry Page, “would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.” The simplicity of Google’s search page has been a trademark of their success, but it’s the roughly 20,000 employees that make it all work. 
According to Fortune, Google is the best place in America to work. Some of their employees make less than market standard but their stock options are making millionaires out of many of their own employees. Apparently, they offer stock options to about 99% of their employees and turnover is rare. In fact, Google seems to be creating a lot of new jobs but they can’t keep up with the three quarters of a million people who are applying every year. One last benefit to employees is Google’s subsidy for their employees to buy fuel-efficient cars and they offer free shuttle service to and from work. This brings me to the next reason we can all love Google and that is their commitment to the environment.
Creation Friendly
In addition to Google’s stellar corporate philosophy, they are actively working towards completely eliminating their own carbon footprint. Their commitment is to reduce their own 
energy needs to eliminate some of their carbon emmissions and also to invest in renewable resources to offset the rest. One of Google’s celebrated projects was to create the largest solar grid in the U.S.  According to Wikipedia, “In October 2006, the company announced plans to install thousands of solar panels to provide up to 1.6 megawatts of electricity, enough to satisfy approximately 30% of the campus’ energy needs. The system will be the largest solar power system constructed on a U.S. corporate campus and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.”

Their plans to save the environment don’t end there, however. Google’s Blog in June of 2007 stated “In addition, we’ve set ourselves the ambitious goal of creating 50 megawatts of new renewable generation capacity–enough to power 50,000 typical U.S. homes–by 2012.” Google’s most recent project has been splashed all over the news the past few days. Their plan is to give $10 million dollars away to research and develop Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) which drills down into the Earth’s core and uses steam to power turbines.

Finally, Google also claims to reduce their carbon footprint through some of their products. For example, they encourage the use of Google Docs so that people use less paper and simply keep their info online. Google Transit also makes it easier for people to search for public transportation rather than taking their own cars to get to a destination. All in all, Google is well on their way to eliminating or offsetting their carbon footprint completely.
Social Action
Google seems to be more vocal about their environmental activity, but they are also extremely active in social justice issues. In fact, the same google.org site that lists their environmental activity lists dozens of philanthropic efforts to help end humanitarian crises. through their 5 Core Initiatives Google not only invests in “creation friendly” initiatives (already highlighted above), but they also invest money for the prevention of global health and humanitarian crises (about $8 million). They also invest money to combat poverty (over $3 million) and fuel the growth of small enterprise (almost $5 million).  

Google Products

So, just for fun, I thought I might add a bonus section to highlight some of the products that Google actually offers. I’m most impressed with Google’s commitment to their employees and with their humanitarian and environmental responsibility but most people love Google simply because of what they do best.  Below are just a few of the products I’ve actually used and enjoyed. I like them so much that not only is my blog solar powered, but it’s also Google powered. The following list is in random order.
Google Search is the most frequently used search engine on the world wide web today. It indexes billions of sites and has roughly 50% of the market share for online searches (using probably around 450,000 servers). Yahoo comes in second with about 20% or so. With Google’s advanced algorithms and their philosophy that democracy works best on the internet, you are almost assured to get the best results for your search.
Google Maps have frustrated me only a few times but it is usually the most helpful Google tool I use. It is amazing that they have virtually the whole world mapped with satellite imagery and point by point directions. You can even create user generated maps and content.
Gmail has an ever increasing amount of storage space for your emails. You never need to delete emails (though I always delete junk). Gmail also has a great way of sorting your emails so you always can retrieve it later through the use of labels, search, and keeping emails together that are in the same “conversation”.
iGoogle is a great way to customize your home page and it gives you easy access to your gmail, calendar and news reader and has literally tens of thousands of gadgets that you can use to make your homepage customizable.
Google Calendar is really good but when I got my mac I started using iCal. No
 worries, there are all sorts of programs offered by Google that will retrieve your iCal data (or other calendars) and add it to your Google Calendar. That way, I use iCal, but my wife can still view my calendar online through Google.

Google Finance allows you to add all of your stocks or mutual funds into a portfolio for Google to track and give real time updates on how they are doing. Now I can tell if my shares of Google are rising or falling. It also uses Google News to let you know if there is anything major going on with anything in your portfolio.
Adwords allows you to take out an advertising campaign on the internet. Google will find relevant places to place your ad. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and comes to your website and you can specify how much you want to pay each month.
Adsense lets you display other people’s advertisements and you get paid each time someone clicks through from your site. 
Blogger and Social Networking are sites that Google has acquired that allows Google users to blog for free and join social sites.
Google Reader allows you to aggregate all of your favorite blogs and news items into one handy reader so that you don’t have to spend your time going from one site to the next in the hopes that a particular blogger has even updated his or her site. 
Let me know what you think of Google. Any other companies you know of that are even more socially and environmentally responsible? 
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