Comparing Google to an ordinary business is like comparing a rocket to an Edsel. No academic analysis or bystander's account can capture it. Now Doug Edwards, Employee Number 59, offers the first inside view of Google, giving listeners a chance to fully experience the bizarre mix of camaraderie and competition at this phenomenal company.
Edwards, Google's first director of marketing and brand management, describes it as it happened. We see the first, pioneering steps of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company's young, idiosyncratic partners; the evolution of the company's famously nonhierarchical structure (where every employee finds a problem to tackle or a feature to create and works independently); the development of brand identity; the races to develop and implement each new feature; and the many ideas that never came to pass. Above all, Edwards - a former journalist who knows how to write - captures the Google Experience, the rollercoaster ride of being part of a company creating itself in a whole new universe.
I'm Feeling Lucky captures for the first time the unique, self-invented, yet profoundly important culture of the world's most transformative corporation.
©2011 Douglas Edwards (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"This lively, thoughtful business memoir is more entertaining than it really has any right to be, and should be required reading for startup aficionados." (Publishers Weekly)
"Douglas Edwards is indeed lucky, sort of an accidental millionaire, a reluctant bystander in a sea of computer geniuses who changed the world. This is a rare look at what happened inside the building of the most important company of our time." (Seth Godin)
"Douglas Edwards recounts Google's stumble and rise with verve and humor and a generosity of spirit. He kept me turning the pages of this engrossing tale." (Ken Auletta, author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It)
“With a warm, approachable tone and perfect pacing, Edwards narrates his detailed account of his experiences as an early employee of Google, Inc….Edwards seems a natural as he provides a highly listenable audio performance….the listener walks away with a better understanding of how true organizational creativity and brilliant technical engineering can impact the human condition and world culture.” (AudioFile)
It is clearly and unashamedly a single person's perspective of the early part of the Google story. However, what lends credibility to the narrative is the author's openness about his difficulty in transitioning from the ingrained working culture of his previous life, to a new up-is-down, black-might-be-white world of Brin and Page.
Did Google succeed with a great technology product despite this contrarian, unconventional thinking, or because of it?
I'm not sure, but it must have been challenging and fun to be a part of that experience and that is what is conveyed in this book, and that is why I enjoyed it.
I like listening to books read by the author when the author has the voice and skill to pull it off, and Douglas Edwards does a fine job.
A fascinating and fun read (listen). I recommend it.
Always strive for an open mind.
Yes. Compelling insight, honesty and self-awareness in this storytelling. Excellent composition.
"When were we ever wrong? Not often, but not often is not never."
"Smart people, motivated to make things better, can do almost anything."
Thank you for this book! As an engineer myself, I am hoping it will help me to be able to better explain to my husband (a non-engineer) how an engineer's brain works and why it is so hard to not be a perfectionist all the time.... It has already helped me to better understand how foreign an engineer's thinking can be to someone with a non-engineer's mindset - by seeing this directly through Mr. Edward's eyes. A true eye opener in this regard!
Did you ever wonder what it’s like to work at Google? Now you can find out. Well, that’s only part true. Edwards was Google employee number 59 and worked there from 1999 till 2005. We should perhaps instead have asked: Did you ever wonder what it was like to be Douglas Edwards while he worked at Google?
We listened to the Audible unabridged version of this book (at double speed — it’s addictive), and found it to be an appealing account of a work-place totally dominated by engineers — or should we say nerds?
Edwards sets the scene by recounting an episode from 2002 where he basically asks Page for a confirmation that, although Page and Brin had been right most of the time, Edwards’ expertise had also been important to the company. Page answers dryly: “When have we not been right?” And such is Edwards’ depiction of the nerd couple being Larry Page and Sergei Brin. They sincerely believe that they are right, that what they are doing is right and that anyone who believes otherwise is simply misguided.
Edwards ends up being misguided a lot of the time. And he is honest about it in his book. After all, his background in marketing is of the traditional type. He came from an executive position in marketing at the newspaper of the Valley, turned down an offer with Yahoo!, only to end up working with a future CEO of Yahoo!: Marissa Meyers just got hired at Yahoo!, but used to work alongside Edwards as a UI expert and later in the product management group reporting directly to Larry Page. It’s safe to say that Meyers and Edwards didn’t get along so well.
The book is largely anecdotal. Hear about the firing of middle-managers in a public staff meeting; Vice-President Al Gore spending his abundance of spare time wandering the corridors of the Google HQ and Eric Schmidt entering the scene during the long-lasting process of “we should probably get ourselves a CEO”.
Edwards asked Eric Schmidt, after a particularly exhilarating argument with Page and Brin in which Schmidt backed Edwards, if he didn’t think Page and Brin were a handful sometimes. Schmidt supposedly answered:
“I’m well compensated. Now, excuse me while I walk around the building a few times.”
September 11 affected the people at Google in much the same way that it affected anyone else. One early response was “Is Google alive?” meaning, are the people at the Manhattan office OK? Yet, the account of decisions made in the surge for information following the attack is memorable.
Edwards took compromises in a lot of places in order to spend time at Google. We say he was motivated by his eagerness to be a part of something bigger. When that feeling went away, he left Google in March 2005. He felt lucky, and he probably was.
Likes audio books
Two things I love about this book:
First, the author tells a story very very well. Clear prose. Dramatic flow of each chapter. He was trained as a journalist and it shows.
Second, as he tells each tale about how Google developed from obscurity to success, and his part in that development, he describes the enlightened wisdom that he tried to bring to each challenge that Google faced. Then, as each story unfolds, he confesses how he was often wrong and what he really learned from each episode. (Hence the subtitle "Confessions of Google employee number 59"). Everyone should approach life in this way: share your wisdom with others, but be open to their wisdom too. Remembering that you might be wrong is the only path to enlightenment.
This book is the story of human endeavor: the creation of Google. And it is the author's personal story of his quest for wisdom, economic survival, and enlightenment.
Four stars from me is not faint praise. I reserve the highest rating for just the few books that come along rarely in one's lifetime. .
A good motive to write it. I couldn't see the point of the book other than to make sure people knew that Larry and Sergei were very flawed and lots of other people really did the work. I heard bitterness everywhere.
The author - substitute him for someone less cynical
I don't know that this book added anything to the world.
Very entertaining book. To hear first hand about what it was like at Google in the early days was insightful and fun.
This is not a 'comprehensive' biography of the company. This book is more of a personal memoir. The author keeps the book fairly linear but does jump around a bit to follow a continuous thought based on an event or project within Google.
Overall this was an enjoyable listen and now I want to move on to Steve Levy's "In the Plex".
A true insider's view of the genesis point for Google. Doug was close enough to the action to observe and comment but not too close that it affected his objectivity or at least the appearance of objectivity.
Clearly his background as a journalist came through in this book. You could see the effort to present a balanced perspective on any of the issues, even when it cast him in a dimmer light. He has an easy to listen to style.
Yes, once you understood the characters and Google's evolution accelerates, it was hard to put down!
While the small lisp of the narrator can be a bit distracting at times, overall the tale told is a good glimpse into the early days and years of one of the more fascinating companies to emerge in the recent decades. The author tells his story with a surprising amount of humility and objectivity. Definitely a recommended read for techies or anyone who wants an inside look at what made and makes Google tick.
Douglas Edwards I want to be you when I grow up. (I'm 45) This was such a perfect, well crafted book and story. I just recently finished a book about Alibaba (by their former marketing guy) and was disappointed because I think I could have learned just as much by cobbling together some old Alibaba press releases. In your book, you seemed to have the perfect amount of bias and inside story. You never came off as the disgruntled, ex-employee but instead a guy who wanted to share his own experiences from his point of view. It would have been SO easy for you to 'phone in' this book. The title sells itself and you are already financially set so this book could have been so 'surfacey' but it was not! It is so clear you really labored over it and created something special for the reader --- even if somehow they had never heard of Google! Well done!! And, my biggest surprise was you were the narrator. Usually it is very obvious when an author reads his own book and often ends really badly. You were terrific! You could be pro narrator.
It's an unexpectedly interesting listen and account of the working of the early days of Google. Difficult to tell at some places whether he's not still the Brand Manager for Google -- that's to say it's a very passionate account of one's work experience.
"A Good Second Book On Google"
Three years ago, I read "In the Plex" an excellent book on the development of Google, and which I would recommend as a first book on Google.
But, once you've read a generalist book such as "In the Plex", and if you want to know more about Google, then I would really recommend reading "I'm Feeling Lucky". "I'm Feeling Lucky" is a personal retelling of one person's life at Google from 1999 to 2005 and as such it makes Google come alive as a "real person". One gets to see that all was not pristine' it had turf wars, office politics, and the 2 founders may certainly have been geniuses in many areas, but not definitely in people or organisational management, and one understands why the board forced them to get a CEO.
I would not recommend this as a first book on Google, but wholeheartedly as a follow-up book.
I wouldn't listen to the book again, that's not because I didn't enjoy it though, it's just because I don't listen too or read books twice.
Douglas Edwards! He was the star of the book as the book was written about his time at Google. He was an extremely interesting and very funny man too, he made the story of Google a lot more interesting than it would have been otherwise.
His humour and knowledge that wouldn't have come across to me if someone else had been reading the book
The ending as I didn't think it would end as abruptly as it did and in the manor that it did
Fantastic all round story with the narrator being the man who wrote the book!
"Wonderful book and well read!"
Best so far although only my third audiobook.
I really got a feel for what it would have been like to work at a company like Google in its start up days.
No just this one. The narration really Made this story for me. Having the author read his own story gives it a real personal touch that I love.
Yes, I often sat in my car at the end of my commute for an extra five minutes listening!
"Amazing book. Very inspirational."
Inspirational. Makes you understand what it takes to make sound business decisions. And it makes a case for how google is not evil, for if it was it would lose the users trust and thus lose it's own corporate power.
"Understand the good and the bad from Google"
This is a great book to understand the good and the bad things of Google. It provides a unique perspective of one of the first employees of the company, who wasn't part of the hardcore engineer team that led and continue leading the company.
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