Book: The Google Story


This is the second time I have read this book since the 2006's edition. I may sound like a Google worshiper here but to me, this book is quite enjoyable, albeit some criticisms on the author's Google worshiping himself.

This book is much like a chronology + wikipedia of Google, hence you might be disappointed if you are looking forward to some sorts of technology insights. It is not mind-blowing as well if you have been following Google's development all these years. Nevertheless, I am going to recap some of the interesting events or thoughts about Google here.

The Google Story

1. AltaVista had a chance to buy the soon-to-be-patented PageRank system for $1 million. AltaVista would then be able to increase its 54% market share in search, with Brin and Page would be able to resume their studies at Stanford. It didn't happen because the search engine wasn't a focus or priority for AltaVista, which was moving towards becoming a one-stop destination for online experiences.

2. Besides AltaVista as well as Excite, Yahoo had also rejected Google's technology as the firm wanted computer users to "spend more time" on Yahoo one-stop portal, rather than giving users fast answers by sending them to the relevant web sites.

3. Andy Bechtolsheim, however, was impressed with Google's search engine concept at that time. He wrote a cheque made out to "Google Inc." for $100,000 without knowing the company did not even exist yet. Brin and Page were so exciting with the endorsement from Bechtolsheim, that they went celebrating at Burger King.

4. It seems like startups founded by pairs of entrepreneurs who shared a common vision had a greater chance for success than lone individuals. From Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Microsoft, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple, Jerry Yang and David Filo at Yahoo, to Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google.

5. Google did perform web usability testing during the early days. The testers were told to use Google to find the answer to a trivia question. They typed www.google.com, watched the homepage come up on the screen, and then they waited, and waited. Finally, Marrisa Mayer asked them, What are you waiting for? The rest of the page to load, they answered. Mayer's team concluded they had to beef up the copyright notice and footers at the bottom of the page, not for legal reasons but to let users know "That's it, that's everything. Please start searching." That says about how cluttered web pages are during the "Web 1.0" era.

6. I always thought that Eric Schmidt is more of a business man. In fact, he already had experience challenging Microsoft prior to joining Google, by leading the development of Java and rose to become CTO at Sun Microsystems.

7. The minimum bid for AdWords was 5 cents, sky-highing to $30 per click bid from lawyers aggressively vying for the chance to land a lucrative client. One of the most expensive keyword though was "mesothelioma", a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

8. Google is not the pioneer in encouraging employee to spend a portion of their paid time on projects of their own choosing. 3M had done it with its own 15% rule years before Google. Google News and Froogle (now Google Product Search) are two of the Google's well known 20% projects.

Booble.com Old Logo

9. In 2004, Google took legal action against Booble.com, a British site for sexual content. You might have already known what is the reason behind, by looking at the logo above.

10. Even Schmidt acknowledged that it is hard to monetize social networks (with advertisements). Talking about social network, it is an area where the Goliath is vulnerable. In 2007 and 2008, Google found itself losing key executives for new ventures with explosive growth potential, including Facebook.

If you have more time to burn, check out my previous post on 10 Interesting Facts About Google.

I rate this book at 4/5.

If you are interested in IT-related books, do visit my Amazon aStore to check out my favourite books. You too can share and recommend your interesting readings in the comments.



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