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In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives | [Steven Levy]

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    K. Robinson Lees Summit, MO, United States 12-22-11
    K. Robinson Lees Summit, MO, United States 12-22-11 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "A Fun Book to Listen To"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I HAVE recommended this book to friends. They would hear me laughing as I heard stories about the early days and I would re-tell them the best I could until I just said


    What was one of the most memorable moments of In the Plex?

    The story of the


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I enjoyed listening to it over several sittings. In on sitting, I think it might be too much to fully appreciate and enjoy.


    Any additional comments?

    A great story, fun tales, and very good value for the book. I'm VERY glad I got this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Phoenix, AZ, United States 12-20-11
    Brian Phoenix, AZ, United States 12-20-11
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    "A Comprehensive story of how google began"
    If you could sum up In the Plex in three words, what would they be?

    Do no evil. The issue is sticking to your own laws. As the company grows... the companies focus will face hard challenges from investors.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    yamir bhatt 12-16-11
    yamir bhatt 12-16-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Great book on Google"

    The story is well written and chronicles in detail the rise of google. There are some really good insights on how things happen at google

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jarrod OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 12-16-11
    Jarrod OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 12-16-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Great Book"

    Great read about a company that is entrenched in everyone’s life. I felt it portrayed Google in fair and balanced light.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shane Noosa Heads, Australia 12-05-11
    Shane Noosa Heads, Australia 12-05-11
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    "Brilliant. Google."
    Where does In the Plex rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very highly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned a lot about Google, things I hadn't dreamed of. It opens your eyes to what's happening to us, and this is just one brilliant company.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maureen Elizabeth City, NC, United States 11-20-11
    Maureen Elizabeth City, NC, United States 11-20-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Extremely Interesting"

    As a person who has limited interest in technology I found this book extremely interesting and well written. Obviously the author has an affinity for the "boys" at Google, but the reporting is pretty objective. When I stop googling long enough to think about what they accomplished it is mind altering. I have recommended this book to absolutely everyone!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonas stockholm, Sweden 11-15-11
    Jonas stockholm, Sweden 11-15-11
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    "Too long..."

    First half was very interesting, but towards the end it got a bit boring and repetitive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garett san diego, CA, United States 11-05-11
    Garett san diego, CA, United States 11-05-11
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    "Nice work Steven"

    What a great book!! It was amazing listening to the rise of my favorite company and how they did it with such class.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Naugatuck, CT, United States 10-28-11
    Evan Naugatuck, CT, United States 10-28-11
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    "Similar to Google Story but more up to date. Great"

    I loved the book called "The Google Story." That was good and so was this. Lots of details on literally how Google thinks, works and shapes our lives :) Great title.

    Loved the interview at the end with Marisa Myers. I'm a Google fan boy and this book hit the spot. Thanks, Steven Levy :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek Vashon, WA, United States 10-23-11
    Derek Vashon, WA, United States 10-23-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Good Behind the Scenes Account but Biased"

    As a follower of all things Silicon Valley, I enjoyed this book. The first half of the book was great as I was less familiar with the early days of Google. I especially enjoyed the parts about how the search and advertising innovations came about and evolved.

    Two things, however, prevent me from giving this book a higher rating. The first is Levy's bias in favor of all things Google. Maybe this was the price he had to pay for access but he included many gratuitous snide remarks toward Microsoft. Secondly, I am not sure why, but I did not enjoy the narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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