Google may be taken to court over a “googol” by the family of Professor Edward Kasner. Kasner, who invented the word “googol” in the 1930s to describe a very big number, wrote about the concept in a 1940 book, describing a googol as the number one followed by a hundred zeroes. According to mathematical lore, Kasner got the word from his 9-year-old nephew.
Peri Fleisher, the niece of Kasner, now insists that Google has gained financially at the expense of the family. She said: “If we do have a legal right, weâ€™re certainly going to exercise that. And now is the time.” Now is the time indeed, as Google plans a $2.7 billion IPO. Google Inc. has been open about the way it picked its name – its site explains that the “play on the term reflects the company’s mission to organise the immense amount of information available on the web.”
There is a great interview with Kasner’s niece Fleisher done by the Baltimore Sun where Fleisher states she’d rather be included as an IPO insider than take Google to court (time to call Cosmo Kramer’s lawyer, Jackie Childs) here’s an exerpt:
Do you believe the company is morally wrong for using the name?
I don’t know if morally wrong is the right term. In terms of business ethics, it would have been wrong had they not acknowledged that’s how they chose the name. But I do think it’s wrong. I’ve worked with a lot of young, entrepreneurial types who are very arrogant. We need to explore and protect our rights a little bit.
But you believe Google has an obligation to compensate you and your family for using the name coined by your great uncle, correct?
Legally, that’s an open question we’re exploring. But ethically, courteously, yes. I see some hypocrisy there. They have ignored us. Other than changing a couple of letters on the name, they are capitalizing on it. This is a business. These guys are going to make billions of dollars. It’s not a cute little thing.
As you know, Google now plans to make an initial public offering and expects to raise $2.7 billion. Does that fact make you more determined to be compensated?
You don’t need to give us anything. Just let us participate as insiders on the IPO. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask.