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Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain Hardcover – September 17, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; First Printing edition (September 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159184276X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842767
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Author and technology journalist Brandt provides an in-depth look at famously brainy Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose radically positive "do no evil" corporate philosophy has achieved astounding success. Though competitors and copyright lawyers may not trust them, one insider goes so far as to say, "never once... have they failed to make the correct moral decision." Brandt follows the genesis of Google during the duo's Stanford years through their impressive entrepreneurial trajectory to current operations. Hiring and managing policies are trusting and aspirant; they look for employees with "a slight disdain for the impossible," and give their engineers and scientists a day a week to work on their own ideas. One chapter focuses on a joint project between Google Book Search and Oxford University to digitize a collection of more than one million 19th century books, concluding that "there is logic behind most of the company's... diversification. Put at the top of the list 'Because they can.'" In this must-read for anyone who deals seriously with cyberspace, Brandt has a remarkable profile in present-day innovation and potential.

Review

"Author and technology journalist Brandt provides an in-depth look at famously brainy Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose radically positive "do no evil" corporate philosophy has achieved astounding success. Though competitors and copyright lawyers may not trust them, one insder goes so far as to say, "never once...[have] they failed to make the correct moral decision." Brandt follows the genesis of Google during the duo's Stanford years through their impressive entrepreneurial trajectory to current operations. Hiring and managing policies are trusting and aspirant; they look for employees with a "slight disdain for the impossible", and give their engineers and scientists a day a week to work on their own ideas. One chapter focuses on a joint project between Googel Book Search and Oxford University to digitize a collection of more than one million 19th century books, concluding that "there is logic behind most of the company's...diversification. Put at the top of the list 'Because they can.'" In this must-read for anyone who deals seriously with cyberspace, Brandt has a remarkable profile in present-day innovation and potential."
-Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the volumes in the "Inside [Someone's] Brain" series published by Portfolio, a division of the Penguin Group. Although each volume has a different author, the primary objective of all of them seems to be the same: To explain the multiple of mindsets that prominent business thinkers such Peter Drucker, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Barack Obama, and in this instance, Larry Page and Sergey Brin possess. The reader is also provided with substantial biographical information as well as selections from their published works (if any) and correspondence as well as comments by those who know them best. If and when possible, there are also interviews during which important insights are frequently revealed.

The title of my review refers to observations that Richard Brandt shares on Pages 175 and 176 when discussing Google's supernetwork and its significance (and potential vulnerability) as a competitive advantage. "Anyone who uses an application from Google is tapping into this incredible store of computing power. This is the main reason Google's competitors have such a hard time matching the company's capabilities. And it allows Google to enter any business that Larry, Sergey, or their ambitious team of computer scientists find interesting...Google is changing the rules of business, from news delivery to PC computing to books to watching video...And business that deals in the collection and dissemination of information is in danger of having its infrastructure collapse its feet like Wile E. Coyote standing on an overhanging cliff. Larry and Sergey move like roadrunners, charging ahead with their visionary plans, saying nothing about where they're headed, or why. There's a good reason for that. They often don't know where they're going until they get there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book was fascinating in that it is an unauthorized documentary of the thought processes of the Google founders and their adult supervision, CEO Schmidt. The author does a comprehensive job of analyzing each decision made by "the Google Guys" and how it fits into the overall strategy of the company. These guys come off as being brilliant because they more often than not get it right. It takes other companies weeks, months or maybe never to realize that what Larry and Sergey are doing is the right way to monetize something if it's possible. From their early rejection of paid search placement that was not rejected by the clueless at AOL (AOL actually tried it thus lowering revenues) to their clear vision that Google is a search company (something that Yahoo lost along the way), the guys consistently get it right. It's not that they were correct on every single product, but they are smart and figure this stuff out very early on. This book is a homage to the brilliance of the Google founders. The Google guys correctly have high regard for engineering and engineers and much lower "tolerance" for most other professionals. Google puts money into engineering and shuns advertising which is why their company leads the pack. While not an advice book, any company can lead in their field if they only applied some of the principles and thought processes of the Google Guys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joan Hamilton on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Brandt's use of vignettes drawing parallels to the Great Library of Alexandria created by Ptolemy I is a nice device for humanizing the scope and desires of much of what's afoot at Google, "the de facto head librarian of the world's information." Don't be put off by the "brain" construct of the title. This book is well written, well organized and is grounded in serious and intelligent reporting about what Sergey Brin and Larry Page actually do, not any sort of imagining of what they must be thinking. This book leaps past the wealth factor and the gourmet kitchens to offer a fascinating run-down of how Google is using massive, massive scale to change the world.
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More About the Author

I have over 20 years' experience writing about science, technology and business, currently a freelance journalist and book author. My most recent book is "One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com (Portfolio/Penguin, October 27, 2011.) It's the story of how Jeff Bezos got started, his impact on retailers, and what he's like as an entrepreneur and a manager (tough!) I'm also author of "Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain" (Portfolio/Penguin, 2009) which was released in paperback as "The Google Guys: Inside the Brilliant Minds of Larry Page and Sergey Brin." (Do you know how few people recognize the names "Larry and Sergey" without additional info? We found out.) I'm also co-author of "Capital Instincts: Life as an Entrepreneur, Financier and Athlete" (John Wiley & Sons, 2003.)

Having written two books in which the subjects would not give me interviews (interesting that the founder of a book-selling site does not give interviews for books) and one book in which the subject had too much control over the manuscript, my next book will be one in which I have direct access to the subject AND complete control over the content.

Not that it's impossible to write a biography without the cooperation of the subject -- it just takes a lot of research and interviews with people who know him or her well -- but I want to be able to really dig into the psyche of the subject. I'd like to ask Jeff Bezos, for example, why he never gives interviews any more unless he hits the talk shows with a product to sell, like a movie star hawking his new picture. I'd like to draw Larry and Sergey into a thoughtful discussion of privacy issues, their deep thoughts on the importance of Web search engines with honest results and how they maintain it.

Executives at public companies whose policies create controversy should get out into the world and explain themselves. They shape our society and affect our lives. I mean, come on! I've interviewed Bill Gates, Andy Grove, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, scientists and top academics extensively over the years, and I don't do hatchet jobs.

Still, the book of which I'm most proud is "The Google Guys." I spent four years on it, off and on, most often on. One blogger claimed it was a hagiography, but that's just because I refuse to attack Larry and Sergey simply because that's a popular thing to do these days. I stand behind everything in the book. Most of the reviews were terrific.

Before the internet (temporarily) destroyed the business of journalism, I was editor-in-chief and columnist for technology/business magazine Upside from 1995 to 2001. From 1981 to 1995 I was a technology correspondent for Business Week Magazine. My freelance articles have appeared in CNBC.com, L'Express, Science magazine, Technology Review, Science/Business magazine, Stanford magazine and Working Woman. The Wall Street Journal did an excerpt of "One Click."

My awards include a National Magazine Award, Deadline Club Award; Washington Monthly Award; Atlantic Monthly Award; Computer Press Association Award; Acer/Boston Computer Museum Awards; I was a Knight Science and Technology Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991, and a Science Journalism Fellow from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1981. I've been a speaker on programs for BBC, CNN, NPR and industry events.

I studied engineering and journalism at the University of Delaware, received a BA in biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and studied mathematics at Harvey Mudd college.

I live in San Francisco with my wife and daughter, dog and two cats. My hobbies include carpentry, ocean kayaking, scuba diving, gardening and running. I re-roofed my own house.

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Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain
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