Users of Google, the Web search engine, may have noticed the image of a birthday cake on its home page last week in place of the usual company logo. The pixilated cake was created by Pop Art icon Wayne Thiebaud, in recognition of the Internet giant's 12th birthday.
The cake is one of more than 300 decorative images, known as doodles, employed by a team of designers at Google to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of notable artists and scientists. Such displays of whimsy illustrate the playful, creative side of what has become, in little more than a decade, a $40 billion company.
Google's ambitions are anything but whimsical, however. From the outset, its stated goal was to organize and make accessible all of the world's information. Since then, the company has used its enormous revenues, generated primarily by use of targeted advertising, to expand into areas beyond its core search engine, including the digitizing of entire libraries, online video, desktop applications, mobile phones and data storage.