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Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan To Organize Everything We Know Hardcover – September 18, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this spellbinding behind-the-scenes look at Google, New York Times columnist Stross (The Microsoft Way) provides an intimate portrait of the company's massively ambitious aim to organize the world's information. Drawing on extensive interviews with top management and his astonishingly open access to the famed Googleplex, Stross leads readers through Google's evolution from its humble beginnings as the decidedly nonbusiness-oriented brainchild of Stanford Ph.D. students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, through the company's early growing pains and multiple acquisitions, on to its current position as global digital behemoth. Tech lovers will devour the pages of discussion about the Algorithm; business folk will enjoy the accounts of how company after company, including Microsoft and Yahoo, underestimated Google's technology, advertising model and ability to solve problems like scanning library collections; and general readers will find the sheer scale and scope of Google's progress in just a decade astounding. The unfolding narrative of Google's journey reads like a suspense novel. Brin, Page and CEO Eric [Schmidt] battle competitors and struggle to emerge victorious in their quest to index all the information in the world. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Stross, a college business professor who writes the New York Times column “Digital Domain,” conveys how, in its overreaching pursuit of growth, Google continues to offer unprecedented access to information while raising questions about copyright and privacy issues. The goal of Google, founded by two engineering graduate students 10 years ago, is to organize and profit from the entirety of the world’s information. With its self-proclaimed “Don’t Be Evil” corporate mantra, Google also plans on unseating archrival Microsoft as king of the hill by introducing “cloud computing,” whereby the Internet becomes the operating system, software, and storage medium, thereby eliminating the need for software upgrades. Google has made its fortune on the unobtrusive text ads that appear to the right of search results, using a complex, self-evolving system called the Algorithm to both match ads to the search parameters and auction those ads to the highest bidder. As the first outsider to receive unfettered access to Google’s headquarters, top management, and company meetings, Stross has provided the most in-depth look at the company to date. --David Siegfried

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141654691X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416546917
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By T. Karr VINE VOICE on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Planet Google" is a simple, well-written overview of Google and its business. The book explains how Sergey Brin and Larry Page started Google while they were students at Stanford and made it their mission to organize all of the world's information.

The various chapters in the book relate how and why Google acquired companies such as YouTube and Keyhole. The book explores the opposition and challenges that Google has faced as it has become larger and entered new areas.

I found "Planet Google" to be neither worshipful nor vindictive. It was largely unbiased reporting. The book does not say much about the people or personalities involved. There is not much time spent on anecdotal storytelling. This book is more of a straight-forward review of how Google started, what Google has done, and thoughts about Google's future.

"Planet Google" provides a good overview for someone who does not know much about the company, but does not really provide much depth.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jijnasu Forever VINE VOICE on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book's title flatters to deceive. The "audacious plan to organize everything we know" has significant impacts on almost all aspects of our lives and how new IT business models emerge - privacy, accessibility, level playing ground for education, security, etc..; growth of software-as-a-service and service-oriented architecture. Despite these meaty issues that the author's premise would have allowed him to provide an in-depth analysis of the trends and implications, he chooses to provide a superficial narration that reads more like a Businessweek article. To be fair, the author did write a few sentences on the above topics, but only as an introduction to his narration of some of the behind-the-scenes incidents that shaped Google's growth. After various authors have done this before, (more notable example - The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time and The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture), this book breaks relatively new ground for even a casual reader in this space. Nevertheless, the narrations discussing the algorithm itself, and Google's foray into video search and Youtube, travails with Google Answers, email scanning and search, the ambitious book scanning project, and growth pains of Google Maps are entertaining and provides some interesting tidbits. For someone familiar with the search space and avid user of Google, some of these discussions may seem yesterday's news.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By UL on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a great book. Written in lay mans terms, this book is a macro view of google - from birth pangs to its 10th year birthday.

Google has been a company which has been a source of inspiration and intrigue for the past decade. Like all big firms, it has had its fair share of problems (legal and competition wise) but it is still standing.

The book talks about all the steps Google has taken to follow it initial mantra of getting all the data in the world together and indexed. From youtube to keyhole to its documents software to its news reader, this book briefly talks about all of googles achievements.

This is not a book which talks in depth about the life of google but it does give the reader a glimpse of one of the most innovative and exciting companies in the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sanniyus Suwita on October 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For readers who appreciated The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, this book loosely picks up where the former book sort of left off. "The Search" (by different author and published in 2005) covers the origin and growth of general Web search technology and the rise of Google the company up to the point shortly after its IPO. "Planet Google" mainly takes a look at what the company has been doing since (circa 2004-08) and focuses on Google's many attempted forays into products and technologies beyond the core Web search. A chapter is dedicated for each of Google's better-known endeavors, namely book digitization, video/YouTube, Google Earth/Maps, datacenter buildup, Gmail and privacy issues, the go for open-source everything, and the debate of machine-only vs. human-assisted search algorithm.

The author claims to enjoy fairly generous access to Google's facilities and some of its top executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt. The book provides a quick read and is much shorter than the number of pages would suggest as the last 75 pages contain only massive amount of footnotes. It will certainly delight those who have always been fascinated by everything Google.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on March 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The phenomenon known as Google had its beginnings in a Stanford University dorm room. Graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin intended at first only to search web pages and index them. From the beginning, Google had no air of the corporate world about it. Their model is based in the engineering world: define a problem and it can be solved. Their informal company slogan? "Don't be evil."

Brin's and Page's vision was to organize all the world's information, and to do it strictly according to computer code that weights and ranks web pages to determine their places in search results. Google relied from the beginning on the principle of letting the computer program -- "the algorithm" -- do the ranking of pages. Strict reliance on the algorithm has allowed Google to "scale" rapidly -- that is, index huge amounts of new information and accommodate rapid spikes in the number of searches performed by users. Three years ago the company revealed that it had crawled and indexed 8 billion pages, but no updates have been forthcoming since then.

How do they pay for it? Advertising. Brin and Page initially believed that advertising was a sure path to biased results and wanted no part of it for their search engine. In 2000, however, they began to experiment with text ads targeted to the search terms, contracting with advertisers who would pay a price per click. The money rolled in, funding enormous expansion. The company approach to insuring capacity has been unique and uniquely successful; they are the McDonald's of the tech world; all in the name of scalability.

...Read more ›
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