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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
Sort by:
  •  
    Mariusz Lodz, Poland 03-10-13
    Mariusz Lodz, Poland 03-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Trying to be good buddhist at life and at work... searching for good buddhist and bussines books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So you use Google...."
    Where does In the Plex rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 5 books...


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

    Information about Googles Don't be Evil and how it evolved druging Google China entry


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Reaction of Stave Ballmer about one of his peaople leaving to Google


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

    You can try but it will take 20h...


    Any additional comments?

    If you think you know Google becouse you use it... well think again... this book will show you how Google change during it years

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-07-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-07-13 Listener Since 2009
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    "Google up close and personal"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaworski Delta, BC, Canada 03-04-13
    Jaworski Delta, BC, Canada 03-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Very interesting even for internet semiliterates"
    What did you love best about In the Plex?

    Clarity of presentation with focus on particular people.


    Any additional comments?

    Scope of vision and ethics demonstrated by Google founders/developers is heart-warming.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Rio Rancho, NM, United States 02-24-13
    Michelle Rio Rancho, NM, United States 02-24-13 Member Since 2013

    I love audio books, fiction and nonfiction. I seem to be drawn to the Scandinavian writers and their narrators.

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    "I want in the plex!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darkpassenger 02-20-13 Member Since 2015

    I'm a technological advanced Construction Entrepreneur who also loves Science Anything! Especially Neuroscience And Quantum Physics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book Worth The Time To Listen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of In the Plex to be better than the print version?

    Dyslexia


    What other book might you compare In the Plex to and why?

    books


    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?

    most of the book


    Any additional comments?

    Now I have to figure out how to get Google to Hire me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy H. Brown Raleigh, NC 02-11-13
    Nancy H. Brown Raleigh, NC 02-11-13 Member Since 2014

    nhba

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    "Very interesting!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Encino, CA, United States 02-05-13
    Michael Encino, CA, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Great Book for Nerds and Geeks"
    Would you try another book from Steven Levy and/or L. J. Ganser?

    Probably


    Has In the Plex turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    What three words best describe L. J. Ganser’s performance?

    Average at best


    What else would you have wanted to know about Steven Levy’s life?

    Nothing


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Warrick Alldridge 01-28-13 Listener Since 2010
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    5
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    "the Plex is complex ... no doubt !"

    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 !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vijay CARY, NC, United States 01-02-13
    Vijay CARY, NC, United States 01-02-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Feels good to be in the plex with Steven Levy"
    What did you love best about In the Plex?

    I loved listening to this book. The author takes you on a fun journey of the things that happen behind the scene. The author provides interesting details behind every important step taken by the company.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Werribee, Australia 12-25-12
    Anthony Werribee, Australia 12-25-12
    ratings
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    3
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    "Fascinating history of a Tech Giant"
    If you could sum up In the Plex in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating, intriguing, enlightening


    What did you like best about this story?

    The history of how Google began, the transition from being a start-up to the huge corporation they are today


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Chinese struggle, the story of Android


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

    Neither, but it was very intersting


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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