on July 2, 2009
The usefulness of this book depends on how much the readers know about Google. To readers who think Google is nothing but a search engine, this book can be passed as informative. To readers who have read other Google books and know quite a lot about the company, this book does not add much. In fact, I doubt the writer knows much about the technology of Google. She seems to have some difficulties with explaining what PageRank and AdSense are.
The content organisation is terrible. In one chapter, the author spends great length reciting the origin of the name Google, the logo, and doodle. In another chapter, she tries to cover all the legal cases against Google. It may make sense to spend at least one chapter on intellectual property; another on free speech, etc.
The conclusion? Well, if you possess the qualities of Brin and Page, and Buffet and Oprah, perhaps you will succeed too! But I bet that Brin and Page did not waste their valuable time on books like this one at Stanford.
on December 2, 2009
I was very disappointed in this book. I actually bought it from Borders, the local bookstore, instead of online so I could get a head-start at reading it. I got through the first two chapters with a lot of difficulty. The content skips around in a haphazard way and was very hard to follow. It seems like a lot of juicy information, but so disorganized that I could not move on. I did skim the rest of the book, and the first few paragraphs of each chapter followed suit. I ended up returning it to the bookstore for a full refund. I recommend searching for articles and videos on Google, as a company, online before buying this book.
The "good news" is that just about anything about Google is at least somewhat interesting - including "Google Speaks"; the "bad news" is that the book is sloppy and superficial. Sloppy because it has a few misspelled words (inexcusable in this day of spell-checking), obvious misstatements (eg. company value rose to "$100 million" (billion), inferring that the company laid off 10,000 during the 2008 downturn, and claiming the firm has 6,000 PCs (other sources suggest many more);superficial because it lacks clear structure, and provides few, if any, details about its Dutch auction IPO, click fraud, pornography revenues, and the business plan for digitizing all/most books and Street View. In addition, the book lacks any breakout of revenues by product line, information on its anti-trust vulnerability, and conflict of interest vs. Apple (two overlapping board members).
Yet, there's still interesting material eg. both Larry Page and Sergey Brin are sons of scientists, are Jewish, received a Montessori School education as children, and both attended Standford to pursue a PhD in computing science. Google just catalogued its one trillionth Web page, has expanded from just the two of them to 20,000 (more or less), and latest advertising revenues (about $16 billion, with $4.2 billion net) are almost as great as the four major TV networks - combined.
Their initial attempts to obtain funding were rebuffed, partly because there already were 37 search engines at the time, partly because they had no business plan. Lucky for Google's founders. Google is used over 200 million times/day, and has a 71.7% market share (76^ of search-engine revenues). Google provides its search engine for AOL and Mozilla Firefox.
PageRank, the key to Google's ranking system, takes into account the number of links and ranking of those links, as well as about 500 other variables.
Advertisers bid both on words that should deliver their ads and on the maximum amount they're willing to pay/click. Winning bidders pay only a penny more than second-place bidders, a ploy designed to encourage them to bid high knowing they'll not be penalized if far above the market (Vickrey auction). Bid price helps get top placement for ads, but that is not the only factor. Ads are also assigned a "quality" score, calculated by historical click rates, an advertiser's account history, relevancy of the bidder's ad (eg. prevent a porn site from coming up for unrelated searches), geographical distance, and other factors. Vendors can also try a variety of ads, and automatically determine which are most effective.
Google provides advertisers with information showing the seasonality and geography of selected search terms.
Page, Brin, and Schmidt hold 1/3 of company stock, while maintaining 2/3 of the votes.
on October 24, 2009
Google Speaks is the first "Speaks" book I have read, apparently there are two others - Warren Buffett Speaks and Jack Welch Speaks, both of which I plan on reading after having read this book. The style is conversational which makes it accessible for technologists and the general population alike. This book basically traces the roots of Google back to the childhood of the company's founders through the eyes of the founders, family, friends, colleagues, investors, and employees, which in total provide a comprehensive picture of Google and the culture within that company.
Google Speaks is really rare in that it was over 300 pages, but felt like a short book as it is so engaging and conversational. What I really enjoyed about this book it that it felt very fair - at some points the company and it's leadership are praised, while at other times it is critical. The good, bad, and ugly are all presented here. There is much valuable content here - the Web 2.0, Web 3.0, and cloud computing personally stand out for me, as well as the glossary which provides a nice resource of Web (and Google specific) definitions.
Great book for those interested in Google, a motivating success story, Internet search and advertising, or just a good, engaging story.
on March 3, 2015
I usually don't read a lot of nonfiction book, but when I found one about Google I just had to pick it up. I sure was not disappointed either! The author formats the book just right so that you are not thrown some much information at one time that your mind gets fuzzy. For a long time I have been interested in Google and with this book, I was able to learn how they got started and how the company grew as a whole. Lowe put all the information in simple terms that really helped to understand the more technical aspects of the information.
As the book shows Google is ever-growing and expanding and I look to forward to seeing where it goes from here. Overall the book was organized in small chunks and easy to understand. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to find out more about Google and its founders, and how the company came to be today.
on September 10, 2009
The read was certainly interesting and enlightening. Considering that I'm already a fan of Google, and somewhat know their journey of growth and fame. It contained things that were already well known to me, but some smaller facts which I found quite interesting. The whole book suddenly discredited itself when I found a simple factual blunder, which simply discredited any other facts that may have been in there. Janet Lowe is suddenly discredited as just another author who's out there to make a quick buck by not researching extensively. Extremely disappointing especially when she probably 'goggled' everything else to write this book.
Flickr was acquired by Yahoo, not Google.
on September 23, 2009
Janet Lowe, bestselling author, captures the billion dollar corporation that was once a school project on the campus of Standford. Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, had a vision of their Internet search engine. Today, that vision turned into a business colossus with an annual revenue of $16 billion dollars. Janet presents a easy-to-read description of the number one Internet search engine.
Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google, was studying math at a college level when he was 15. After graduating from college in 3 years, he headed west to earn his Ph.D. Larry Page, the other co-founder of Google, was surrounded by computer at the age of 5. Every since then something latched on to him about computers. After graduating from University of Michigan, with a degree in computer engineering. Larry also decided to head west, to Standford University. What was a student project for their research paper, soon became a billion dollar corporation. It didn't happen overnight, but with lots of support from their colleagues Google is the Internet. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both now 36, have become the "King of the Internet."
Larry and Sergey has a very strong connection with Standford University. Besides the fact that Standford was the starting point for their successful business. Standford is also Google's business partner, and let's not forget, Larry and Sergey both met their wives at Standford. One of Google's main assets, the PageRank patent, is owned by Standford University. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, taught business courses at Standford. Google's advisor, Professor Rajeev Montwani, was Sergey's Ph.D. advisor. As you can see, it is inevitable to associate Google without Standford.
This book clearly reaches out to any entrepreneurs who are interested in success stories. It wasn't easy for Larry and Sergey to go public, they still faced difficulties as they tried to decide what to do. Although, they are successful entrepreneurs, it was their distinctive competency that set them apart from Microsoft and Yahoo!
I gave this book four stars out of five. It was very easy-to-read and straight forward. But there are sections of the book that drags on and on. It is very informative to learn how Google was all started and all the process Larry and Sergey went to get to this point. They have brought internet marketing into a new level. There is only gossip for the future of Google, but by looking at all their current application. It is safe to say, they are reaching for nothing but extraordinary.
on August 14, 2009
Google is an exceptional company. It is currently the most used search engine on the web. I picked up this book because I wanted to learn how this company started and why it is so successful. I enjoyed reading the history of the two founders who met at Stanford, and, at first, thought of each other as arrogant and obnoxious, but then ended up founding one of the most powerful companies in the world together.
Google is extremely successful because it has a platform power or network effect. As more people use the platform to search the Internet, the more valuable it becomes. The company knows how powerful its platform is so it works really hard to expand it in any way it can. I enjoyed reading this book.
- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
on March 10, 2012
I heard the audio of this book and could not waste any more time than 1/3rd of the way into the first CD, the reading is unengaging, but the writing is so bad, I cannot willfully blame the reader. This is a case of a half baked work making it to print because it had "Google" in its title. Add that to amazing things Google has accomplished, will you please , Ms Janet?
on November 12, 2011
The book is nothing but a mish-mash of commonly known public knowledge. The style of writing is atrocious. It appears that the author put down whatever she could find on Google's history, whenever she found it. There is absolutely no flow in the book at all, it jumps from one event to the other, to the next, and back to the first. I had read another book on Google, I think the title was something like "In the Plex" or something like that, that was a MUCH better book on Google. Pass on this one.