I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

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Comparing Google to an ordinary business is like comparing a rocket to an Edsel. No academic analysis or bystander’s account can capture it. Now Doug Edwards, Employee Number 59, offers the first inside view of Google, giving readers a chance to fully experience the bizarre mix of camaraderie and competition at this phenomenal company. Edwards, Google’s first director of marketing and brand management, describes it as it happened. We see the first, pioneering steps of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company’s ...

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I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

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Overview

Comparing Google to an ordinary business is like comparing a rocket to an Edsel. No academic analysis or bystander’s account can capture it. Now Doug Edwards, Employee Number 59, offers the first inside view of Google, giving readers a chance to fully experience the bizarre mix of camaraderie and competition at this phenomenal company. Edwards, Google’s first director of marketing and brand management, describes it as it happened. We see the first, pioneering steps of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company’s young, idiosyncratic partners; the evolution of the company’s famously nonhierarchical structure (where every employee finds a problem to tackle or a feature to create and works independently); the development of brand identity; the races to develop and implement each new feature; and the many ideas that never came to pass. Above all, Edwards—a former journalist who knows how to write—captures the “Google Experience,” the rollercoaster ride of being part of a company creating itself in a whole new universe. 

I’m Feeling Lucky captures for the first time the unique, self-invented, yet profoundly important culture of the world’s most transformative corporation.

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  • I'm Feeling Lucky
    I'm Feeling Lucky  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

A book about Google by employee number 26,119 could be mildly interesting, but one by employee number 59 promises to be downright enthralling, especially if that employee happens to have been a major player during that legendary company's dizzying formative growth. As Google's director of consumer marketing and brand management, Douglas Edwards had full access to the fledgling corporation's prime movers, giving Feeling Lucky an insider's feel that is missing from many accounts of the behemoth. The book conveys the sense of excitement in those early days ("early" meaning 1999 to 2005), but it doesn't spare critiques of the occasional overconfidence of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. A spirit-lifting takeoff for every aspiring entrepreneur or avid business reader.

Publishers Weekly
An affectionate, compulsively readable recounting of the early years (1999–2005) of Google from Edwards, its first marketing executive. Accustomed to a traditional corporate environment, Edwards found himself over his head when he came on board at Google, stymied by the hierarchy-free flat company that boasted about 50 employees (working at desks consisting of large wooden doors mounted on metal sawhorses) whose engine was doing 11 million searches a day, barely a blip against Yahoo, AOL, and MSN. The author describes the meteoric rise of a company where all assumptions were challenged, where every problem was viewed as solvable and skirmishes sprang from convictions, not ego, and where an idiosyncratic corporate culture (in-house massages and doctors, bacchanalian parties) reigned from its earliest days. The book's real strength is its evenhandedness; though the author notes the weaknesses of Google 1.0, the occasional mishandling of its own relationships with openness and disclosure, and founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin's overweening confidence in their convictions—he also speaks with great warmth and respect about the evolution of a legendary company. This lively, thoughtful business memoir is more entertaining than it really has any right to be, and should be required reading for startup aficionados. (July)
Library Journal
Google's first director of marketing and brand management offers a you-are-there account of Google's birth and boom. Lots of accounts out there, but this one has an insider's advantage. Go for it.
Kirkus Reviews

An insider's look at the growth of Google from the perspective of a former employee.

Given Google's current dominance of search, it can be difficult to remember a drastically different Internet landscape. Edwards, the director of consumer marketing and brand management for Google from 1999 to 2005, describes not only the growth of a startup into a publicly traded behemoth but also the development of an iconic brand. The author found that the leadership at Google did not take kindly to traditional marketing strategies (i.e., anything that cost money) and, in fact, wasn't too keen on much of anything traditional at all. This generated an incredible amount of innovation and, at times, a considerable amount of frustration for Edwards. "This book," he writes, "tells how it felt to be subjected to the g-force of a corporate ascent without precedent, to find myself in an environment where the old rules didn't apply and where relying on what I knew to be true almost got me fired." Confidence in good ideas, he writes, could quickly morph into arrogance or bad management, and the author's insider point of view sheds light on the problems the company faced—and still faces—regarding user privacy and copyright issues.Edwards takes a broad view throughout the narrative and addresses Google history and workplace culture as well as marketing. His perspective as an early employee is valuable and unique, but it also occasionally pulls attention from his area of expertise. Given the availability of other books on general Google history (see Steven Levy's In the Plex, among others), the author might have been better off limiting his scope. When he addresses engineering issues, the subject matter is such that tech-savvy readers may find the level of technical detail insufficient, while casual readers may be overwhelmed. Like the company itself, Edwards never takes himself too seriously, and thesomewhatgoofy tone occasionally becomes grating.

Could have used more focus, but the former "voice of Google" provides a detailed, quirky and expansive half-memoir/half-historical record.

From the Publisher

I’m Feeling Lucky is funny, revealing, and instructive, with an insider’s perspective I hadn’t seen anywhere before. I thought I had followed the Google story closely, but I realized how much I’d missed after reading—and enjoying—this book." —James Fallows, author of Postcards from Tomorrow Square

"Douglas Edwards is indeed lucky, sort of an accidental millionaire, a reluctant bystander in a sea of computer geniuses who changed the world. This is a rare look at what happened inside the building of the most important company of our time."—Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

"This is the first Google book told from the inside out. The teller is an ex-employee who joined Google early and who treats readers to vivid inside stories of what life was like before Google became a verb. Douglas Edwards recounts Google's stumble and rise with verve and humor and a generosity of spirit. He kept me turning the pages of this engrossing tale." —Ken Auletta, author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547416991
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/12/2011
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 9.02 (w) x 6.34 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

DOUG EDWARDS was the director of consumer marketing and brand management at Google from 1999 to 2005 and was responsible for setting the tone and direction of the company’s communications with its users. Prior to joining Google, Edwards was the online brand group manager for theSan Jose Mercury News, where he conceived and led development of the technology news site siliconvalley.com.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction ix

PART I: YOU ARE ONE OF US
1. From Whence I Came 3
2. In the Beginning 15
3. A World without Form 31
4. Marketing without “Marketing” 42
5. Giving Process Its Due 51
6. Real Integrity and Thoughts about God 60
7. A Healthy Appetite for Insecurity 76
8. Cheap Bastards Who Can’t Take a Joke 93
9. Wang Dang Doodle — Good Enough Is Good Enough 121
10. Rugged Individualists with a Taste for Porn 136

PART II: GOOGLE GROWS AND FINDS ITS VOICE
11. Lift off 155
12. Fun and Names 183
13. Not the Usual Yada Yada 193
14. Googlebombs and Mail Fail 200
15. Managers in Hot Tubs and in Hot Water 214
16. Is New York Alive? 228

PART III: WHERE WE STAND
17. Two Speakers, One Voice 245
18. Mail Enhancement and Speaking in Tongues 255
19. The Sell of a New Machine 265
20. Where We Stand 286
21. Aloha AOL 295
22. We Need Another Billion-Dollar Idea 312
23. Froogle and Friction 326
24. Don’t Let Marketing Drive 335
25. Mistakes Were Made 356

PART IV: CAN THIS REALLY BE THE END?
26. S-1 for the Money 377

Timeline of Google Events 391
Glossary 394
Acknowledgments 399
Index 402

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Confessions from a Google Employee...

    It's entertaining, insightful and educational all while moving you through the timeline of Google's success in the early years. What I like about this book that differs from others I've read is that it is a more personal account of those days and those early successes.
    People who loved the movie The Social Network will love this book. It has that peeping-Tom feel to it into Google's success window while giving you some accounts of people and progress on a personal level.
    For those of us more geeky or techie the book does have nuggets of insight that are useful and worthwhile as well as very interesting. Like, Google engineers would often complete things only to 80% and had a great reason for doing things that way. Or perhaps you'd be interested to know that the original name of Google was Back Rub? Glad they changed the name!
    I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the history of successful business or wants an insider's look through the window of Google.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Lucky Indeed

    Written with candor and humor, I'm Feeling Lucky chronicles the sure-footed missteps and unwise rightness that marked the early days of Google, a contrarian upstart whose wild success seems inevitable only in restrospect. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    A readable first draft of high-tech history.

    Before Google was an empire or a verb, it was just another Silicon Valley startup. Doug Edwards offers readers an inside look at the early years of the company that changed the world. It's a funny and revealing look at high-tech history by a guy who was there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 7, 2012

    Behind the Scenes of Google - Must Read

    It’s possible that if one was too see a book about Google, they may not read it due to the fact they picture the book would be bland and full of complex technical lingo. While it does include plenty of technicality, Edwards does a phenomenal job of putting technical details in laymen’s terms and explaining why a certain outcome was wanted or why the program or code was necessary. He also interjects humor here and there, while still keeping a serious importance to why he took the risk when joining the company. This book is simply a must read. His job at the company is in Marketing and Brand Management, both of which are easily shunned by the founders. Right off the bat, he recognizes Google is not a regular business. Google is in fact quite unorthodox compared to what he is used to at an old media news company. The company offers to employees free meals, roller hockey, massages, and video game rooms just to name a few oddities. The book details him getting used to the new “Googler’s” lifestyle. I really enjoyed how Edwards was honest throughout the book, but usually in a funny way. An example is when he originally was worried that the founders were big spenders, but he soon found out they were very thrifty and wanted to get everything done on the bare minimum budget. I also really like how it shows the background of what so many of us take as granted for internet searching. Google was the first search provider to use technology to look at how many times a page is linked on the internet rather than just looking at how many times the typed keyword shows up on a page. Now, basically all search engines do this following Google. Edwards also mentions ideas he came up with throughout the book, and amazingly some are still there today on Google! He was not a major player in the Google Company, but his insight is still extremely interesting. If you enjoyed the movie The Social Network, this book is for you. It gives you a window into the most exciting and chaotic times starting at essentially the birth of Google and so on. This book is a must read, simple enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    This is an awesome book

    This sums of google perfectly

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    It's Googley

    This book showed great insight into google's younger years with a bit of humor as well. However I felt some discussions dragged on making some chapters more repetitive than others. Those looking for a chronological account may be a bit perplexed at times, but there is a timeline in the back of the book to assist when confusiin arrises.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011

    Interesting read, kinda technical...

    Very interesting insider view from one of the proven greatest companies of our time. The first half of the memoir is intriguing and you can't seem to but this thing down, the second half on the other hand, is super technical for a non-technical reader. As it got further along, it got tougher to read and comprehend but all in all, I learned quite a bit and became quite jealous of a Google share purchased at $0.20!!!!!

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