It is absolutely amazing to think that when I graduated 11 years ago, Google was a nascent company with little search traffic. Today, I can’t imagine what it would be like to go without it for a few days. (For a good example of how that would work, check out Esquire magazine this month–not online).
Auletta’s book dragged on a bit, and I felt like it was two or three chapters too long. There wasn’t as much on the personalities of the founders as I would have liked. The book was more about the business of Google. Eric Schmidt seems like a great CEO in the press, but Auletta showed some of his weak points. Clearly, Auletta had significant access. I think this book is made for those who care about the business impact of Google, rather than those who want the inside story of what it is like to work there or what the founders do in their spare time. If you are looking for another Accidental Billionaires, this isn’t the book for you.
Understanding how they monetize their advertising was a challenge. Also, could Google get “too big to fail?” Are their recent national security issues (China censorship, hacking) proving that our internet communications are inextricably tied to Google? What if it went kaput, like Lehman Bros?
I’m a google junkie. I love to highlight a phrase and right click for “search on google.” I think it is functionally beautiful and despite what some complain about, I love to click through a few pages to look for results. Sometimes I veer off in another direction entirely. Google figured out that the search can be as interesting as the find.
Any study of Google is a study of how the rise of transparency has led to many of our cultural norms today. Politicians can’t screw up because it will be on Google tomorrow. Information is everywhere and there aren’t “Too Many Secrets” any more. Companies can have reputations ruined because of a lack of transparency. Get it out fast and correct is the mantra. I think Google’s undescribed lasting effect is that today the public demands complete transparency. Customers demand information and smart new business models will aim to find the opaque economic systems and break them up. The real estate market is a perfect example. 10 years ago, it was a chore to get housing values. Now, the info is everywhere. Customers have more power than ever before. It changes the economic model, but we are certainly better off than we were before. We also demand transparency of our public figures, but that’s for a different blog. My review of Googled, well, go to Google, search for some of Auletta’s old articles and read the other book reviews. That’ll do.