Google's founders were worried from the outset that they would lose control of their company name. In the prospectus they wrote that "there is a risk that the word 'Google' could become so commonly used that it becomes synonymous with the word 'search.' If this happens, we could lose protection for this trademark, which could result in other people using the word 'Google' to refer to their own products, thus diminishing our brand."

It did happen. Oddly, the first recorded use of Google as a verb was in an early e-mail that Larry Page sent to friends and fellow students. He told them to "Keep Googling." With breathtaking speed, the noun Google became a verb as everyone went to their computers to Google everyone else, or even to Google themselves.

Google the verb was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, but it wasn't cause for celebration at the company. As expected, executives at Google growled over the possibility of brand dilution and other dark implications.

Get Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.