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In the Plex Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Chris United States 04-01-13
    Chris United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Enjoyable"

    The book is more than a little sympathetic to Google, but it really puts the impact that Google has had on the Internet and society into sharp focus. You almost forget what life was like before Google. Like them or love them, Googlers have changed the way the world works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary United States 03-27-13
    Gary United States 03-27-13
    ratings
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    "I was supposed to receive parts 1 & 2"
    Would you try another book from Steven Levy and/or L. J. Ganser?

    I received part 2 twice. The so called part 1 download was really part 2. And the part 2 download was part 2. So I have part 2 of the book two times and part 1 zero times.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miguel LAREDO TX, TX, United States 03-26-13
    Miguel LAREDO TX, TX, United States 03-26-13
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    "good facts"

    great facts, good inside information, easy reading and listening, information on many obstacles they had to pass

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Fair Lawn, NJ, United States 03-25-13
    Richard Fair Lawn, NJ, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2012
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    "An impressive insight into an impressive company"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Johnson 03-18-13
    Jim Johnson 03-18-13

    Truth Seeker

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    "This Book ROCKS!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph SARASOTA, FL, United States 03-18-13
    Joseph SARASOTA, FL, United States 03-18-13
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    "best business book i ever read"
    What did you love best about In the Plex?

    The insight into the industry and the company


    What did you like best about this story?

    How they developed world class products


    Any additional comments?

    Wish this book was available seven years ago---would have made a fortune on the stock

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Durbanville, South Africa 03-16-13
    James Durbanville, South Africa 03-16-13
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    "Searching for Google"
    If you could sum up In the Plex in three words, what would they be?

    inspiring, educational, futuristic


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

    How they told investors that Google was going to be worth Billions, even though it was a free online search website.


    Which character – as performed by L. J. Ganser – was your favorite?

    all


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It just inspired me to dream bigger, there are many moments when you just cannot believe how big Larry and Sergey thought.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mario 03-12-13
    Mario 03-12-13

    Personality: Intellectually Driven

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    "Interesting but long and sparse focus."

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Gilbert, AZ, United States 03-11-13
    Suzanne Gilbert, AZ, United States 03-11-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating look inside of Google!"
    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Burwood, Australia 03-11-13
    Barry Burwood, Australia 03-11-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent insight into where we are"
    What made the experience of listening to In the Plex the most enjoyable?

    The look at how Google and other new wave companies think


    What did you like best about this story?

    An understanding of how the various products came together, and how it has shaped the way we live now.


    Have you listened to any of L. J. Ganser’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    It wasn't that kind of book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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