Glossary - How Google Works (2014)

How Google Works



The ads product that places ads on a large network of publisher sites.


Google’s flagship ads product, this engine generates most of the company’s revenue.


English rendering of the Hebrew for “Follow me,” the rallying cry in the Israeli army.


Google’s open-source mobile operating system.


Application Programming Interface, which enables other applications to interact with it.


Associate Product Manager; APMs usually do two twelve-month rotations before they become full-fledged product managers.

cloud computing

Technology that enables Internet users to access files and run applications that reside on computers in another location. These remote computers, which are sometimes called servers, are usually clustered in large data centers that feature thousands of individual computers.

Coase’s law

The principle, expressed by Nobel Prize–winning economist Ronald Coase, explaining that large firms emerged because, when you take transaction costs into account, it’s often more efficient to get things done within a firm rather than contracting out on the open market. Because the Internet has lowered transaction costs, Coase’s law implies that these days it’s often more efficient to outsource work rather than doing it internally.


A Google internal system for posting questions for executives and voting others’ questions up or down.


A former employer of Jonathan’s that was formed when Excite, a pioneer in web portals, merged with @Home, which helped to popularize Internet access via cable modems.


Google’s annual employee feedback survey.


A team working on some of Google’s most ambitious projects, including self-driving cars, Google Glass, Project Loon, and smart contact lenses.

HiPPO (or simply “hippo”)

Highest-Paid Person’s Opinion.

learning animals

People who have the smarts to handle massive change and the character to love it: They so enjoy learning that they aren’t afraid of asking dumb questions or getting wrong answers.

market capitalization (or “market cap”)

The total market value of the issued shares of a publicly traded company.


A Google internal site that lets Googlers create memes in the form of pithy captions attached to images, this is a fun way for employees to comment on the state of the company.


Google’s intranet, used for sharing all kinds of company information among Googlers.

Moore’s Law

The prediction, made by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, that the number of transistors on a chip—and hence computing power—would double every two years. Moore initially predicted, in 1965, that the doubling would occur annually, but he revised his prediction to every two years in 1975.

multisided market

A place where different user groups can connect and provide each other with beneficial services.


New + Googler (new Google employee).

obligation to dissent

The expectation that if someone thinks there is something wrong with an idea, they must raise that concern.


Objectives and Key Results, a performance management system used effectively at Google and other companies.


Sharing intellectual property such as software code or research results, adhering to open standards rather than creating your own, and giving customers the freedom to easily exit your platform.

open-source operating system

An operating system, like Linux and Android, in which the code is available at no charge to the public for use and modification. The opposite is a closed operating system, whose code is tightly controlled by the company that owns it.

payback period

The length of time needed to recover the cost of an investment.


A base of technologies or infrastructure on which additional technologies, processes, or services can be built.


Return on investment.


To grow something very quickly and globally (verb) or quick, global growth (noun).

smart creative

A person who combines deep technical knowledge of his or her trade with intelligence, business savvy, and a host of creative qualities.


Companies in which power derives from tenure, not merit.


Google’s company-wide meeting, initially held every Friday afternoon, now held on Thursdays so that Googlers in the Asia Pacific offices can participate.

user interface

The part of a product with which the user interacts.


Google Wave was a system that let groups of users communicate and collaborate in real time. Google stopped working on Wave in 2010, and open sourced the code.

Web 2.0

The set of technologies that make the web what it is today (an upgrade of Web 1.0 of the 1990s).