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Just eleven years old, Google has profoundly transformed the way we live and work-we've all been Googled. Esteemed media writer Ken Auletta uses the story of Google's rise to explore the future of media at large. This book is based on the most extensive cooperation ever granted a journalist, including access to closed-door meetings and interviews with industry legends, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marc Andreessen, and media guru "Coach" Bill Campbell. Auletta's unmatched analysis, vivid details, and rich anecdotes illuminate how the Google wave grew, how it threatens to drown media institutions, and where it's taking us next.
Part 1 Different Planets
Chapter 1 Messing with the Magic 3
Part 2 The Google Story
Chapter 2 Starting in a Garage 27
Chapter 3 Buzz but Few Dollars (1999-2000) 46
Chapter 4 Prepping the Google Rocket (2001-2002) 66
Chapter 5 Innocence or Arrogance? (2002-2003) 94
Chapter 6 Google Goes Public (2004) 105
Chapter 7 The New Evil Empire? (2004-2005) 121
Part 3 Google Versus the Bears
Chapter 8 Chasing the Fox (2005-2006) 143
Chapter 9 War on Multiple Fronts (2007) 169
Chapter 10 Waking the Government Bear 186
Chapter 11 Google Enters Adolescence (2007-2008) 199
Chapter 12 Is "Old" Media Drowning? (2008) 228
Chapter 13 Compete or Collaborate? 242
Chapter 14 Happy Birthday (2008-2009) 262
Part 4 Googled
Chapter 15 Googled 281
Chapter 16 Where Is the Wave Taking Old Media? 296
Chapter 17 Where Is the Wave Taking Google? 322
25 Business Maxims 345
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I have read several books about Google over the years, and this one is certainly the best written of them all. This is not surprising - Ken Auletta is a writer, journalist and media critic for The New Yorker. His writing is of an exceptionally high quality and a pleasure to read. The book is also very well researched, with first-hand accounts from many of the key players at Google and other companies that prominently feature in this story. Many of the stories about Google's early years have been written about before in other books and articles, but there are also a substantial number of new, untold accounts. In particular, we get a better idea of who were the important early investors in Google and the order in which they supported the fledgling company. Several not-so-famous high-level operatives are profiled who had a substantial influence on Google's development. However, even though these profiles are not the typical puff-pieces that have come to dominate the popular business press, they are not all that critical and candid either. From the point of view of writing an interesting story this is somewhat to be expected. The triumvirate that runs Google despite their incredible business success is composed of three very geeky individuals that don't necessarily have the most exciting personalities. On the other hand certain other highly visible members of the Google hierarchy perform rather obscure functions in the company that are hard to get too excited about from the outsider's point of view. None of the books about Google that have come out so far provide us with the intriguing stories of what is really going on inside Google - clashing personalities, conflicting projects, dazzling new ideas, development dead ends, etc. This is particularly noticeable when comparing books about Google to books about some other prominent technology companies - Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. Apple in particular, even though infamous for the level of secrecy, has enjoyed a spate of recent books and articles that reveal much more about its product development and internal affairs than any one of the books about Google that are out there.
There are a couple more weaknesses of this book from the point of view of content. Google is a company that prides itself above all on its technology, and yet you will find very little in terms of technological details in this book. Even if you are not someone who is intrigued by technology, it would be important to read about some more prominent technological aspects of Google, at least in order to put Google's success in context. Most technology companies don't succeed, and this is particularly true of search engines, and it would be important to understand what are the technical advantages that Google has that keep it so well ahead of all of its competitors.
The other big problem that I had with this book is that it provides an inordinate amount of space to other companies and business developments in recent years. In particular, Auletta seems to be very fascinated with the media business and the rapid changes that have been happening to it in recent few years. For instance, the newspaper industry is going through what could be the greatest evolution in its history, and this book tries to give this change a perspective. Google and other internet companies are the key players in this transformation, and it is important to understand how newspapers and Google are influencing each other. However, Auletta doesn'
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Posted October 20, 2010