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The Google Story: For Google's 10th Birthday by [Vise, David A., Malseed, Mark]
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Editorial Reviews Review

Social phenomena happen, and the historians follow. So it goes with Google, the latest star shooting through the universe of trend-setting businesses. This company has even entered our popular lexicon: as many note, "Google" has moved beyond noun to verb, becoming an action which most tech-savvy citizens at the turn of the twenty-first century recognize and in fact do, on a daily basis. It's this wide societal impact that fascinated authors David Vise and Mark Malseed, who came to the book with well-established reputations in investigative reporting. Vise authored the bestselling The Bureau and the Mole, and Malseed contributed significantly to two Bob Woodward books, Bush at War and Plan of Attack. The kind of voluminous research and behind-the-scenes insight in which both writers specialize, and on which their earlier books rested, comes through in The Google Story.

The strength of the book comes from its command of many small details, and its focus on the human side of the Google story, as opposed to the merely academic one. Some may prefer a dryer, more analytic approach to Google's impact on the Internet, like The Search or books that tilt more heavily towards bits and bytes on the spectrum between technology and business, like The Singularity is Near. Those wanting to understand the motivations and personal growth of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, however, will enjoy this book. Vise and Malseed interviewed over 150 people, including numerous Google employees, Wall Street analysts, Stanford professors, venture capitalists, even Larry Page's Cub Scout leader, and their comprehensiveness shows.

As the narrative unfolds, readers learn how Google grew out of the intellectually fertile and not particularly directed friendship between Page and Brin; how the founders attempted to peddle early versions of their search technology to different Silicon Valley firms for $1 million; how Larry and Sergey celebrated their first investor's check with breakfast at Burger King; how the pair initially housed their company in a Palo Alto office, then eventually moved to a futuristic campus dubbed the "Googleplex"; how the company found its financial footing through keyword-targeted Web ads; how various products like Google News, Froogle, and others were cooked up by an inventive staff; how Brin and Page proved their mettle as tough businessmen through negotiations with AOL Europe and their controversial IPO process, among other instances; and how the company's vision for itself continues to grow, such as geographic expansion to China and cooperation with Craig Venter on the Human Genome Project.

Like the company it profiles, The Google Story is a bit of a wild ride, and fun, too. Its first appendix lists 23 "tips" which readers can use to get more utility out of Google. The second contains the intelligence test which Google Research offers to prospective job applicants, and shows the sometimes zany methods of this most unusual business. Through it all, Vise and Malseed synthesize a variety of fascinating anecdotes and speculation about Google, and readers seeking a first draft of the history of the company will enjoy an easy read. --Peter Han

From Publishers Weekly

If Google's splashy IPO and skyrocketing stock haven't revived the dotcom sector, they have certainly revived the dotcom hype industry, judging by this adulatory history of the Internet search engine. Billionaire founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, their countercultural rectitude imbibed straight from the Burning Man festival, are brilliant visionaries dedicated to putting all information at mankind's fingertips and "genuinely nice people" who "didn't care about getting rich." Their company motto, "Don't Be Evil," is not just PR boilerplate rendered in fantasy-gaming rhetoric, but a deeply-pondered organizing principle. Washington Post reporter Vise, author of The Bureau and the Mole, and researcher Malseed give a serviceable rundown of the company's rise from grad-student project to web juggernaut, its innovative technology and targeted advertising system, its savvy deal-making and its inevitable battles with Microsoft. But while they raise the occasional quibble about controversial company policies, they generally allow Google's image of idealism to overshadow the reality of a corporate leviathan. Worse, the bloated text feels like the product of an overly broad web search: anything with keyword Google-executives' speeches, seminar talks, informal Q and A sessions with students, company press releases, legal documents, SEC filings, even the company chef's fried chicken recipe-comes up, excerpted at inordinate and rambling length, drowning insight in a flood of information.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3256 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1st edition (November 15, 2005)
  • Publication Date: November 15, 2005
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,945 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Tucher on November 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you've been reading the newspaper, there's not much new here. Vise skims over issues but doesn't help you understand them.

He describes Google's library project, but doesn't explain how these millions of books are to be scanned. He says "click fraud" is jeopardizing Google's advertising model, but he doesn't explain how these bots are created or how they can be stopped. Several times he tells us Sergei Brin is a great deal-maker, but he cites no good examples -- except that Brin once redirected the private jet to London to pull an AOL Europe deal out of the fire ... by dramatically sweetening his offer to outbid Yahoo.

There are many other examples where you'd expect greater insight or behind-the-scenes reporting. The auther doesn't seem to have gotten any inside access to the founders, the CEO, the VCs or any other key protagonist.

You do get, however, a recipe for fried chicken.
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Format: Hardcover
The byline of this book is "inside the hottest business, media and technology success of our time." The problem is that this book provides no "inside" look at all. The information provided by the authors might as well have been found through a Google search. There was nothing really new that has not been reported a thousand times in the media or obvious to anyone who follows Google. The work seemed a bit ambitious and proved in the end to be nothing more than a cheerleading rally for a company that doesn't need any help. I think there is still plenty of room for someone to write a real objective account of the rise and success of Google but it may be too soon. Wait another five years and either the stock will be trading at $500 a share or it will be another success story with a troubled ending. The real Google story is amazing but The Google Story was not.
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By Raj on September 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
The book is written in a breezy style that makes for easy reading by the lay person. To give the author his due, he does manage to convey a sense of what Google has accomplished in so short a time period. But if you're looking for any kind of in-depth analysis on what really makes Google tick, or what kind of business challenges lie ahead for the company, you may be disappointed. Other than some teasers about their management style, their custom hardware, etc., there is very little substance.
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Format: Hardcover
Google is a search engine that millions of computer users have incorporated into their daily routine, so it's no surprise that someone decided to profile the two young mavericks -- Sergey Brin and Larry Page -- at the epicenter of such an amazing tale of success. In The Google Story $26.00 US, collaborators Vise & Malseed chronicle the company's meteoric launch, and the unique approach that has enabled its founders to stay one step ahead of the competition, while leaving few questions unanswered. I really enjoyed the team's breezy informational writing style, and I might have to read The Bureau and the Mole (also by David A. Vise) after finishing this.

Ostensibly, the book hinges around: advertising on Google, AOL, Ask Jeeves, details of the PageRank system, employees of Google, Eric Schmidt's role at Google, the events of September 11th, international aspects of Google, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Michigan Digitization Project, Microsoft, Overture Inc., Privacy issues, the SEC, Stanford University, the stock price of Google, Venture capital firms, Yahoo!, and the company's admirable motto -- `Don't Be Evil' -- among other things. It was especially interesting to read about key dates and turning points, how the venture faced critical challenges, and how Brin and Page turned fleeting circumstance to their advantage. Ignoring prevailing wisdom would prove lucrative for both young men.

Of course, no book is complete without photos, so you'll delight in the eight pages of black and white photography sandwiched between the pages of this non-fiction text. Some of these photos ran in Playboy, and USA Today, and it's nice that they were included, since you can eyeball the people profiled in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Overall, this book was disappointing because it reads as if Mr. Vise is stringing quotes together to get a story. There is no real conclusions or insights and many details and facts that are conspiculously missing.

However, it's addictive! I attribute this to the engaging story of Google more than the writing of the book, but nonetheless, I'm glad I read it so that I can compare it with the other Google book, Search.
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Format: Hardcover
In less than ten years, Google has built a very successful business around its search engine solution - achieving the unusual combination of very high revenue growth and high net margins. There also is no doubt the company's vision for where it shall go in the future is unusually broad and far reaching. This makes Google a great candidate for the right author to write a great book about its rise to prominance. This unfortunately is not the book.

I attempted to read the book through, but resorted to scanning it instead. For anyone who knows how the internet works (and does not work) there is far too much hype and cheerleading in this book. The book lacks balance, it lacks critical examination, and it lacks objectivity. These are significant flaws, but it does deserve credit for delivering a reasonable chronology of how Google started and evolved to the point where it has captured the impressive market position it has today.

If you are new to the topic of understanding how a search business functions and are looking for a basic Google chronology, the book is probably fine - as long as you look past the cheerleading. If you are already up on what search related businesses most likely can (and can not) achieve, this book is worth skipping.
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