Sunday, September 28, 2008

Did Hubert Chang Really Invent Google?

The entire epic has been likened to the plight of Pete Best, the "fifth Beatle", and the Winklevoss twins who claimed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole their social networking idea when they were students at Harvard.

Hubert Chang appeared in a web video published on Vimeo making the claim that in February 1997 he had assisted Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to design the search giant.

His claim is that he is Google's third founder. But many experts are suggesting that Chang is just the latest in a series publicity-hungry geeks seeking fame and fortune on the back of the Google brand. Why he waited for 11 years to make his declaration remains unclear.

In the video Chang says, "The design includes the search engine algorithm, the business model (also called AdSense and AdWords), the name of the company, the outline of the system architecture, a corporation culture like a grad school, and Google's growing path".

Google has already released a statement saying there is absolutely no substance to Chang's claims, however, it did not deny that Page and Brin had met him. In the statement, Google said Page and Brin had "no recollection" of meeting Chang, "however, given the number of people they've met in the last decade it's impossible to say categorically that they never have".

Chang claims that it was his father's desire for him to complete his PhD at New York University, that led him to abandon Google. Google today has a market capitalisation of $US138 billion. According to Forbes, Page and Brin are worth $US16 billion each.

Chang further claims that Page and Brin asked him in September 1997 whether he would like to put his name on the academic paper that first described the Google search system, but he declined so he could focus on his studies. He said that decision was difficult, uncomfortable and, in hindsight, unwise, but it "made sense" at the time.

Chang says he was introduced to Brin and Page by Stanford computer science professor Rajeev Motwani. Motwani has stated that he may have passed on a few emails but Chang's claims were "completely unfounded in reality".

Chang says that he has tried to contact Page and Brin after finishing his PhD in 2002 but they ignored him. Chang speculates they were either busy, did not know how to position him or did not want to "fully acknowledge the past".

In Google's statement - "Rajeev Motwani, the Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Stanford, believes he may have shared some emails from Mr Chang with Larry and Sergey in 1997 or 1998. But in any case PageRank had already been developed by that time and was a working prototype."

From TheAge.com

In November last year, a German network administrator, Sebastian Klein, held Google hostage by registering eight Google-related internet domain names and, in a letter posted in 10 languages on each of the sites, demanded a job in exchange for handing over ownership of the names. Klein was told by Google to send in a CV like the 3000 other people who apply for a job at the company each day.

Aaron Stanton, a 25-year-old computer game reviewer from Idaho, last year set up a website, cangooglehearme.com, chronicling his attempts to convince Google to listen to his idea. He hoped someone inside Google would read the website and champion his cause. Stanton's plight quickly spread around the world and he was eventually offered a meeting at Google's headquarters, but he was not offered a job.

In 2005, a search-engine marketer living in Sweden, Walid Elias Kai, named his son Google and built a website around the child to publicise his services.

US R&B artist Teyana Taylor released a song called Google Me, while Johnny Hoeve, a songwriter from the Netherlands, has just released a track titled Google It.

Opportunistic internet entrepreneurs are making thousands in advertising revenue by registering web domains that are common misspellings of Google's own websites and plastering them with advertising.

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