Don't be evil. That's Google's official motto. But what's really going on behind that simple little search box? Wired's Steven Levy guides us through a history of the rise of the internet, the development of complicated search algorithms, and, in many ways, a who's who of Silicon Valley all beautifully narrated by L.J. Ganser.
What started as two geeks obsessed with improving internet search engines rapidly ballooned into a company eager to gobble up other useful startups (Keyhole Inc., YouTube, Picassa) as well as larger, more obviously valuable companies (most notably the marketing goliath, DoubleClick). Google's strategy has also been a game-changer in regards to the way we use data and cloud computing. Thanks to its highly lucrative AdWords and AdSense programs, the company exploded the way people think about the internet and the way people think about making money on the internet.
In the Plex gives listeners a real idea of what it's like to exist within the company's quirky culture. And Ganser knows when to keep it serious, but that doesn't stop him from adding just the right amount of snark to the “like” and “um”-ridden quotations from various engineer types. This edition also includes a fascinating interview between the author and early hire Marissa Mayer, the youngest woman to ever make Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" list.
Levy dedicates a large section of the book to Google's controversial actions in China, the ultimate test of the company's “don't be evil” philosophy. Here, In the Plex takes an unexpected turn from company profile to a technology coming-of-age story for notorious “founder kids” Larry Page and Sergey Brin. How does “don't be evil” play out in a real world that is sometimes, well, evil? Results are mixed.
In addition to China, Levy touches on some of Google's failures, flubs, and flops, like the company's book scanning project and its development of Google Wave and Google Buzz. However, he seems to miss the point when he makes excuses for their inability to compete in the social space. It seems particularly obvious why a corporation completely run by data-obsessed engineers would have trouble making inroads in the world of social media, which is by nature more organic and subtle.
From the early days as a gonzo-style startup to the massive corporate giant that has quickly integrated itself into almost everything we do, this is an essential history of Google. Gina Pensiero
Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that has transformed the Internet and become an indispensable part of our lives. How has Google done it? Veteran technology reporter Steven Levy was granted unprecedented access to the company, and in this revelatory book he takes listeners inside Google headquarters - the Googleplex - to explain how Google works.
While they were still students at Stanford, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized Internet search. They followed this brilliant innovation with another, as two of Google's earliest employees found a way to do what no one else had: make billions of dollars from Internet advertising. With this cash cow (until Google's IPO, nobody other than Google management had any idea how lucrative the company's ad business was), Google was able to expand dramatically and take on other transformative projects: more efficient data centers, open-source cell phones, free Internet video (YouTube), cloud computing, digitizing books, and much more.
The key to Google's success in all these businesses, Levy reveals, is its engineering mind-set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. After it's unapologetically elitist approach to hiring, Google pampers its engineers with free food and dry cleaning, on-site doctors and masseuses, and gives them all the resources they need to succeed. Even today, with a workforce of more than 23,000, Larry Page signs off on every hire.
But has Google lost its innovative edge? It stumbled badly in China. And now, with its newest initiative, social networking, Google is chasing a successful competitor for the first time. Some employees are leaving the company for smaller, nimbler start-ups. Can the company that famously decided not to be "evil" still compete?
No other book has turned Google inside out as Levy does with In the Plex.
This edition of In the Plex includes an exclusive interview with Google's Marissa Mayer, one of the company's earliest hires and most visible executives, as well as the youngest woman to ever make Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" list. She provides a high-level insider's perspective on the company's life story, its unique hiring practices, its new social networking initiative, and more.
©2011 Steven Levy (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Thoroughly versed in technology reporting, Wired senior writer Levy deliberates at great length about online behemoth Google and creatively documents the company’s genesis from a 'feisty start-up to a market-dominating giant'.... Though the author offers plenty of well-known information, it’s his catbird-seat vantage point that really gets to the good stuff. Outstanding reportage delivered in the upbeat, informative fashion for which Levy is well known." (Kirkus Reviews)
"The book, a wide-ranging history of the company from start-up to behemoth, sheds light on the biggest threats Google faces today, from the Chinese government to Facebook and privacy critics." (The New York Times)
“With a commanding voice, L.J. Ganser narrates this history and exploration of Google….Ganser’s stern voice is clear and moves through the text with determination.” (AudioFile)
A well researched and excellent perspective on the thinking driving a company and technology that is and will shape our world. I thought I was aware of google, but realize I saw only some of the surface of the water. But the deeper dive into not just what its done, but what was and is possible makes for a fascinating understanding of this remarkable technology and how it can, and most likely will be used...and a sobering reflection on the challenging societal questions of whether we're comfortable with going there.
Google is a name that evokes powerful emotions among many people, typically either strongly positive or negative. The author did an incredible job being objective, yet providing a deep inside look into Google. The author did not shy away from the tough issues, and even asked insiders about them directly. The authors writing style is excellent, and captivated my attention. The performance of the narrator is also second to none. I've consumed a lot of audio books in my day, and this is one of the best I've ever enjoyed. Highly recommended.
The insight into the industry and the company
How they developed world class products
Wish this book was available seven years ago---would have made a fortune on the stock
inspiring, educational, futuristic
How they told investors that Google was going to be worth Billions, even though it was a free online search website.
It just inspired me to dream bigger, there are many moments when you just cannot believe how big Larry and Sergey thought.
Great book to see the inside of Google from the start up. Seeing how the company runs really makes me want to change the way the corporate I work for, why must we work from 8-5? why don't we get free food? why don't we have a day to work on something that inspires us? All these things grows passion for the company and in the end makes us want to do our job better.
Personality: Intellectually Driven
Good to know but not as practical or useful as many of the themes are relatively known from other better, more detail and practical books. Served the purpose for it was created!
This book gives you a fascinating insight into Google, which was very thought provocting to anyone that is starting a business. Google's model was to build things to work fast and to be able to multiple on a LARGE scale all while maziming the efficientcy of their workforce by providing such things as free meals, gym memberships etc.
There is just the right about technical discussion without getting too "Geeky" and loosing the listener. The narrator is easy to listen to.
Highly recommend it!
The look at how Google and other new wave companies think
An understanding of how the various products came together, and how it has shaped the way we live now.
It wasn't that kind of book
Trying to be good buddhist at life and at work... searching for good buddhist and bussines books.
Top 5 books...
Information about Googles Don't be Evil and how it evolved druging Google China entry
Reaction of Stave Ballmer about one of his peaople leaving to Google
You can try but it will take 20h...
If you think you know Google becouse you use it... well think again... this book will show you how Google change during it years
The Levy book is a good analysis into the evolution of Google as it becomes the source of search for the world. The discussion of the love/hate relationship with Steve Jobs around the Phone debate and the move into the China market and its inherent cultural and political issues were the most intriguing parts of the book to me. I felt the Levy book had a much more insider view than the Stross Planet Google book.
Clarity of presentation with focus on particular people.
Scope of vision and ethics demonstrated by Google founders/developers is heart-warming.
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