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)
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.
I love audio books, fiction and nonfiction. I seem to be drawn to the Scandinavian writers and their narrators.
I loved this book for the content. I have learned so much about the internet in general, and how clever the Googlers really are. And principled - who does that these days in business? They deserve every bit of their success.
I'm a technological advanced Construction Entrepreneur who also loves Science Anything! Especially Neuroscience And Quantum Physics.
most of the book
Now I have to figure out how to get Google to Hire me.
It's a long story and sometimes a bit tedious but truly interesting and intriguing. The narrator was sometimes hard to understand and there were many references to names mentioned earlier in the book which were impossible to track per audio vs print version. I may listen to the whole thing again. Just like the Steve Jobs book, it provided a good review of how the technology developed at Google and both clarified and improved my perceptions of their mission and goals.
Average at best
This is the only book I've tried of his, and I wouldn't judge anyone just off of one book. I would give him another try.
It's great to be informed about that most ubiquitous technology that is in sooo much of our mobile/online lives.
I'm not a techie, but it's good to know of Google's philosophy & the founders' thinking as time rolls on.
And 3 cheers for Maria Montessori.
Here in Australia there are just a few Montessori junior high schools.
I believe a Montessori high school experience is sooo good for shaping & rounding young teens, the benefits compared to a regular high school curriculum are immeasurable !
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