Wednesday, 30 June 2004

Googling Googol

Edward Kasner, the mathematician, asked his little nephew for a name for a very large number (10 raised to the 100th power - or the number 1 followed by a hundred zeros), and little Milton famously answered "Googol."
Now, it is part of net lore (the official Google version is here) that the company was to be called Googol, but thanks to some goof up at the VC's office, it became the name we love to verb (Google frowns on this, incidentally).
Now that Google is on the brink of its IPO, Kasner's relatives are apparently seeing a googol zeros.
Here's a snippet from an article in the Baltimore Sun:
# As you know, Google now plans to make an initial public offering and expects to raise $2.7 billion. Does that fact make you more determined to be compensated?
Peri Fleisher (Kasner's great-niece) You don't need to give us anything. Just let us participate as insiders on the IPO. I don't think it's a lot to ask.
# Might you consider legal action?
Peri Fleisher I don't know if there is anything we can do. A cousin is going to start exploring that. I don't want to come across as threatening. Most of the people in our family are pretty intellectual and no one in our family has been really aggressive. But again, we're not wimps or wallflowers. If we do have a legal right, we're certainly going to exercise that. And now is the time. Google is big and popular now, but who knows what's going to happen when they go public. There are other companies are on their tails. Now is the time to capitalize.
# Do you use Google as a search engine?
Peri Fleisher I do. I also use Yahoo. After I was interviewed on [National Public Radio's] Talk of the Nation, I Googled myself, but it didn't come up. When I Yahooed myself, it came up immediately. It took longer for Google to post it.
Aside from risking Google's ire by using the G-verb, Ms Fleisher is also being slammed on the net, with varying degrees of bile and spelling quality. Here, here, here

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