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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

May - 2006 - issue > Company Profile

20% Time

Imran Shahnawaz
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Imran Shahnawaz
Meet Arvind Jain, a soft-spoken computer scientist, who is the proud owner of some interesting career turns. Two years ago, he walked away from a successful company to become an individual at Google. Why? Just to grab the opportunity to dream big. And Google offered him this opportunity. Today, Jain is the Center Head, Google Research and Development (R&D), Bangalore. Google Labs across the world encourage their engineers to spend 20 percent of their time to pursue personal projects they are passionate about.

For one day a week, they can be the bosses of their own startup with Google. If anything promising comes out of that effort it turns into a full time project with resources and a launch pad. Interestingly, some of the products in Google’s portfolio such as Google News, Google Suggest, Ad Sense, Orkut and Gmail are the fruits of this ‘20 percent time’ concept. The latest innovation added in the list of Google India is ‘Google Finance.’ The brainchild of two engineers of Bangalore center, Navneet Loiwal and A C Narendran.

The project was initiated in order to compile the world's financial information in a better way and make it available to millions of people. As the duo was fascinated with finance, they developed a prototype that struck the attention of Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and the executive team, Jain says. The team grew over time and added members from Google’s New York and Mountain View centers and 15 months later, on March 20, 2006, they rolled out ‘Google Finance’.

Google Finance, which is in its beta version, provides financial information on company stocks with added features. It is loaded with interactive charts, links to relevant blogs, news, search on mutual funds, stocks price, and company information and discussion boards. The three unique tools that grab the attention are company search, blogs and charts. Google Finance charts correlate market data with corresponding dated news stories. Even one can click and drag the charts to see different time periods. Google Finance also enables users to identify the top blogs about the searched company, which is yet another innovation on the same platform. Whereas, the most significant change is that users no longer need to know a company's ticker symbol (such as YHOO for Yahoo!) to find the relevant financial information. With such advanced tools, company expects that the Google Finance will stand out from its competitors. Jain claims, “Our focus was not just to provide ‘stock quotes,’ we want to help people find any kind of financial information that they are looking for.”

Besides Finance, the Bangalore R&D center is also working on projects in the area of information retrieval aimed at improving the relevance of Google’s search results, especially for the Indian users, says Jain. The information needs of people are very locale specific. For example, most of the web is authored in English and therefore not available to most of the people in India who do not speak or understand English.

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