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.)
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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