Kevin Gibbs: The Guy who Suggested 'Google AutoSuggest' - The HD Times

Kevin Gibbs: The Guy who Suggested ‘Google AutoSuggest’

Kevin Gibbs: The Guy who Suggested ‘Google AutoSuggest’


Nearly a decade ago, Kevin Gibbs, a recent Stanford Graduate joined Google. The guy later discovered or say developed a new era of Google Search. Kevin Gibbs was the one who suggested the Autosuggest feature to the Google Search team. He developed the feature under Google Labs before it was officially added to in 2008. It is said that he originally wanted to name it ‘Google Complete’ but Marissa Mayer named the final one: Google Suggest, which is presently called ‘Google Autosuggest’. The following details were discovered by an article published on AllThingsDigital, more of the details can be found below.

Google Suggest was built by Kevin Gibbs, a recent Stanford grad who joined Google just a couple of months before it went public. Having spent a few years at IBM, Gibbs was drawn by the lure of big projects and “20 percent time,” as well as a new program that would shuttle workers from San Francisco to Mountain View headquarters (today, ubiquitous Google Buses are the bane of anti-gentrification San Franciscans, but at the time there was just one trip a day from the Glen Park transit station).

When he started at Google, Gibbs’s role was to work on the systems infrastructure that helped run Google’s data centers, so there wasn’t much of his day job he could do from a laptop on the shuttle, with its crappy Edge Internet connection, Gibbs said in a recent interview.

So, with that extra offline time, rather than taking a nap, he thought it would be fun to work on something that combined some of the hot new geeky developer stuff of the time:

Big Data. Because he worked at Google, Gibbs could play with billions of Web documents and use thousands of computers to process them. This was before Amazon Web Services came out, and before that term meant much of anything to anybody.


JavaScript. This was around the time the notion of “Ajax” programming was coming to prominence, where developers could build websites that checked a server for new data and loaded it without refreshing the page. What it meant was that websites could start behaving like software applications. Gibbs wanted to try it out.

High-speed Internet. By 2004, more than half of American Internet users had access to broadband at home or work. That made it possible to build something that was much more complex and still potentially accessible to a big audience.

Gibbs said he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about or taking credit for Google Suggest these days — he’s now at Quip, the new mobile productivity startup he co-founded with former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor.

“I don’t feel when I look at a search box that it’s something I did,” Gibbs said of Google Suggest. “It feels like this is just how the world’s supposed to work. I don’t feel any personal attachment to it unless I stop to think about it.”

The technological timing was right, Gibbs said. “I’m sure it would have happened if I hadn’t done it. I think it’s one of those history of invention things — where there was one guy who developed it in Germany and one guy in Russia, and it turns out they were doing it in the same year. I haven’t found my guy, but I think it was just an idea that was just so ripe to have happened.”


There's no great genius without a mixture of madness.

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