The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
  • The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
  • The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture

The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture

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by John Battelle

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What does the world want? According to John Battelle, a company that answers that question-in all its shades of meaning-can unlock the most intractable riddles of business and arguably of human culture itself. And for the past few years, that's exactly what Google has been doing.

Jumping into the game long after Yahoo, Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, and other pioneers,

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What does the world want? According to John Battelle, a company that answers that question-in all its shades of meaning-can unlock the most intractable riddles of business and arguably of human culture itself. And for the past few years, that's exactly what Google has been doing.

Jumping into the game long after Yahoo, Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, and other pioneers, Google offered a radical new approach to search, redefined the idea of viral marketing, survived the dot-com crash, and pulled off the largest and most talked-about initial public offering in the history of Silicon Valley.

But The Search offers much more than the inside story of Google's triumph. It's also a big-picture book about the past, present, and future of search technology and the enormous impact it's starting to have on marketing, media, pop culture, dating, job hunting, international law, civil liberties, and just about every other sphere of human interest.

More than any of its rivals, Google has become the gateway to instant knowledge. Hundreds of millions of people use it to satisfy their wants, needs, fears, and obsessions, creating an enormous artifact that Battelle calls the Database of Intentions. Somewhere in Google's archives, for instance, you can find the agonized research of a gay man with AIDS, the silent plotting of a would-be bomb maker, and the anxiety of a woman checking out her blind date. Combined with the databases of thousands of other search-driven businesses, large and small, it all adds up to a gold mine of information that powerful organizations (including the government) will want to get their hands on.

No one is better qualified to explain this entire phenomenon than Battelle, who cofounded Wired and founded The Industry Standard. Perhaps more than any other journalist, Battelle has devoted his career to finding the holy grail of technology-something as transformational as the Macintosh was in the mid-1980s. And he has finally found it in search.

Battelle draws on more than 350 interviews with major players from Silicon Valley to Seattle to Wall Street, including Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as competitors like Louis Monier, who invented Alta Vista, and Neil Moncrief, a soft-spoken Georgian whose business Google built, destroyed, and built again. Battelle lucidly reveals how search technology actually works, explores the amazing power of targeted advertising, and reports on the frenzy of the Google IPO, when the company tried to rewrite the rules of Wall Street and declared Don't Be Evil to be its corporate motto.

For anyone who wants to understand how Google really succeeded-and the implications of a world in which every click can be preserved forever-The Search is an eye-opening and indispensable read.

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Editorial Reviews

When Google was launched in 1998, it was regarded as a late starter in the search engine game. Since then, it has not only eclipsed rivals Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, and others; it has redefined the Internet and the marketplace. In less than seven years, the company that opened with three employees launched the largest technology IPO in Silicon Valley history. The Search, penned by Wired co-founder John Battelle, promises to be the definitive inside story of Google's rise.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.14(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“John Battelle is Silicon Valley’s Bob Woodward. One of the founders of Wired magazine, he has hung around Google for so long that he has come to be as close as any outsider can to actually being an insider….The result is a highly readable account of Google’s astonishing rise.” —The Economist

“It’s a fascinating story, and Mr. Battelle… tells it well.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A surprisingly gripping story…The Search yields impressive results, pairing a reportorial eye for detail with an evangelical zeal to help readers understand the import of the search revolution.” —Wired News

“Battelle…manages to keep things compelling, adding his own trenchant analysis about what Google’s rapid evolution and powerful technology might mean for the company and our society as whole.” —The Associated Press

“A compelling glimpse of the search industry’s early years.” —BusinessWeek

“Deeply researched and nimbly reported.” —Publishers Weekly

“Indispensable.” —London Review of Books

"Battelle has written a brilliant business book, but he's also done something more... All searchers should read it." —Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute

"This book ought to be called 'The Answer.' As usual, John Battelle delivers insightful, thought-provoking, and essential reading." —Seth Godin, author of All Marketers Are Liars and Purple Cow

"Nobody, and I mean nobody, has thought longer, harder, or smarter about Google and the search business than John Battelle." —John Heilemann, author of Pride Before the Fall

"A must read for anyone endeavoring to understand one of the most important trends of this generation." —Mary Meeker, Managing Director, Internet Analyst, Morgan Stanley

"Battelle has... figured out why "search" is so damned important to the future of everything digital. Even more impressive, he's actually managed to turn the subject into a compelling analog story. —John Huey, editorial director, Time inc.

"A terrific book." —L. Gordon Crovitz, Dow Jones

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Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was well written and provided enough information to keep me glued to it. However, I was really hoping to find out more about Google than what would be possible from Google's own PR machine. The early search engine history and the development of that technology is probably the more fascinating part of the book. Which is ironic, since the book is supposed to be primarily about Google. My guess is that the author sacrificed the ability to write about more intriguing and behind the scenes happenings at Google for the almost unlimited access to the founders and the top managers. Overall, this is a pretty good book, but a hard-nosed investigative reporter would probably have come up with more intriguing content.
GamaClone More than 1 year ago
The Search was recommended to me from a colleague and I was excited to find it still in circulation at my B&N. While an interesting topic, the author promises that this book is not a history of Google, when in fact, that's exactly what it is. From the early days in a dorm room, to the hiring practices and personalities of the creators, there isn't much in the way of the quote on the cover. True, it does discuss the rivalries of Yahoo and AOL, and how they all circle each other, with some losing and some winning, there's not as much an answer to 'what is search' as is ' what is google doing differently than everyone else'. perhaps the book was ahead of it's time (Google bought YouTube months after the books release). There are tidbits of information that are insightful (What does RSS stand for? YaHoo is an acronym?) and the theory as to what the internet itself actually is was an interesting paragraph, though these are few and far between. The last quarter of the book is repetitive, and became a chore to finish. The book now rests on a library shelf somewhere, waiting for it's next victim.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a well-researched book on the subject of search, and how it is changing our business and culture. Google is arguably the most powerful and venerated Internet company in the world today -- reading about its birth, growth, and future direction is a must for anyone involved in business.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very thought provoking read. Reminds one of an old story by Goerge Orwell.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found myself completely enveloped in this book. The author does a great job of telling the story of search, as well as outlining the implications of Google's power in the future. His bit on AI is fascinating and thought provoking. I highly reccomend this book - it's a quick read, and serves as a 'crash-course' in the history of search, with tons of anecdotal information and terrific story telling. Plus, I found it to be a very quick read. Well done!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was way too technical. It spent more time speaking about the technical configurations of servers then it did about how Google has achieved its success. It was a slow read at times, and would be a good book for someone interested in how Google was set up from a technological standpoint.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Battelle's is a great book with amazing, captivating storytelling. I've only read one other industry book that I tell people is a must-have if you're in the IT business or into the web lifestyle, Stephen Segaller's 'Nerds 2.01 - A Brief History of the Internet'. Battelle's fine work is right up there with it. The book's main focus is primarily Google, but there's also a healthy dose of the other major players in the search game, like Amazon's A9, AltaVista, AllTheWeb, Yahoo and Microsoft. So there's a holistic view of the search industry, without leaving out any of the majors. The book does, in my opinion, lack a bit of the technical explanation behind Google's processes (I'm a software developer, so I like that kind of thing). I would have enjoyed reading more about Google's data center and distributed computing philosophies and the company's adoption of open source software (there are a couple of paragraphs dedicated towards detailing the former). Google rolled their own Linux implementation, which wasn't mentioned, and have pretty much put Python on the map as a programming, which also didn't make the final cut. But not taking anything away from Battelle's work - he does a fantastic job early on of breaking down web-wide search and the components involved. The book is still spot-on in terms of the strategy, financial profile, legal issues, unique corporate culture, human resources practices, adventures with venture investors, stock performance, insider interviews , horror stories, brutal truths and a historical look at the company. The final chapter, 'Perfect Search' also talks about what's on the horizon for search, maintaining the belief that in all, web search is only 5% completed. It's fine writing. Pick this one up. Kudos, John - well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The idea of making billions of dollars on a business based on searching online indexes is inconceivable, except when you consider how the Internet has changed the business world. This concept is so vague that it is difficult even to consider, let alone write about. Yet author John Battelle has done a thorough, entertaining job of identifying how this attempt to pin down cyberspace works, and how two graduate students turned their mathematical challenge into Google, the fastest growing company in history. While this is primarily a corporate biography, Battelle does not pander to the company¿s billionaire founders. They are portrayed as authoritarian geeks with few warm qualities. But they are also shown as visionary engineers who turned their killer application into a business that successfully defied Wall Street when their company went public. This is a great story, which is why we recommend it to technology fans searching for meaning and to business readers who want to understand the future of search technology. Or as Google says: search and you shall find.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Batelle dug in by thoroughly researching and interviewing key search industry experts to explain the history of search. He is a talented researcher, writer, journalist and entrepreneur and understands this medium well, offering analysis and keen insight on the rise of search engines, from Webcrawler in 1994 to present day. He explains underlying algorithms and pay-for-performance click advertising business models that created today¿s multibillion dollar businesses. I bought each of the 40 employees at a copy. It¿s an excellent read for people who are in the industry, and those who want to learn about the dynamics of Internet business and its societal impact. We are all still in the early stage of search, and know that it will be a part of everyday life for Internet users. And as a search engine entrepreneur, I agree with John that vertical search engines will take the industry to the next level and into the future.