Where were you on Saturday when Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) had its temporary outage? Were you looking for something on its search engine? Composing a piece of Gmail? Were you an advertiser checking on your day's impressions and click-throughs on AdWords? Google's brief blackout affected a lot of users. The company insisted that the outage lasted for all of 15 minutes, though some sites claim that the lack of access spanned an hour or more.

Either way, Google's outage and the public's outcry at what turned out to be a simple DNS error is important. It's the last ritual in the initiation process. Welcome to the dot-com titan fraternity, Google! Here's your engraved paddle.

Yes, it seems like a cruel rite of passage. It's a shame that it takes something like a temporary knockout to make the public realize how much it needs you. However, Google isn't the first company forced to play hard-to-get.

In the 1990s, two of our real-money portfolio holdings -- eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online -- went through similar episodes. For AOL, that moment came in August 1996, when the young and rapidly growing online service suffered a 19-hour service outage. It made headlines. Users were outraged. Yet it was also a model-affirming move. Subscribers realized how important AOL, the Internet, and general connectivity mattered to them. A few months later, when the company switched to an all-you-can-eat pricing plan instead of the hourly plans that were typical at the time, the surge in usage created a frustrating string of busy signals. The end result, though, was just another confirmation that AOL mattered.

eBay's downtime comeuppance came on June 10, 1999. The 22-hour outage cost the company millions in auction refunds, but combined with the briefer blackouts that it suffered that summer, it helped its bidders and sellers fully appreciate what they had when eBay was up and running.

Google's blunder on Saturday wasn't nearly as serious as the eBay and AOL service failures. But because the Internet has grown substantially in that time, even a brief outage by a popular online destination can create a whole lot of displaced users.

Just for kicks, go through some of the consumer brands and services that you rely on that happen to be publicly traded. Would you survive for a day without them? I'm guessing that more than a few of you are hooked to your daily doses of Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) or satellite-radio upstarts like Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) or XM (NASDAQ:XMSR). I'll toss cigarette purveyor Altria (NYSE:MO) into the list for the more obvious cold-turkey example. What other names can you think of? As long as their valuations are reasonable, the companies on that list might also represent some of the greatest growth stocks for the second half of this decade.

Read up on some of these celebrated outages:

  • Yes, there was a time when even AOL was a fast-growing Rule Breaker.
  • Shares of eBay have been hit hard lately but are still trading 50% higher than they were on its famous outage of June 10, 1999.
  • Check out our Rule Breakers newsletter service for more ultimate growth stock ideas.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that if he suffered a 21-hour outage, no one would notice. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.