Here are some great quotes from 2003 in which Larry Page explains a little about his original intentions, why it was important to become a profitable business and how Google made hardware acquisitions. If you look back, it seems difficult to believe that Google had a hard time finding investors.
"Google has been profitable since the first quarter of 2001. Why did we make becoming profitable such a priority? It's good that we did, because we might well be gone if we hadn't. The real reason is that we became profitable in the first quarter of 2001 because Sergey Brin made it a priority. You see, Sergey would try to go out on dates. He would call up women. And to impress them he would say, 'I'm the president of a money-losing dot-com.' But in Palo Alto in 2000, a huge number of people were presidents of money-losing dot-coms. And so they would not call him back. And he thought, 'If only I were president of a money-making dot-com, things would be very different...'"
"It wasn't that we intended to build a search engine. We built a ranking system to deal with annotations. We wanted to annotate the web - build a system so that after you'd viewed a page you could click and see what smart comments other people had about it. But how do you decide who gets to annotate Yahoo? We needed to figure out how to choose which annotations people should look at, which meant that we needed to figure out which other sites contained comments we should classify as authoritative. Hence PageRank.
"Only later did we realize that PageRank was much more useful for search than for annotation..."
"Our original hardware acquisition strategy was non-standard. We would go out and wait on the loading dock and beg for computers. When new computers arrived at Stanford we would go up to the people taking delivery and say, 'Surely you don't need all ten of these computers. Surely you can give us one. We have a really interesting research project..'"
Quotes from Semi-Daily Journal (ignore the spam).