What Would Google Do?

What Would Google Do?

by Jeff Jarvis
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What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis

“Eye-opening, thought-provoking, and enlightening.”
USA Today

“An indispensable guide to the business logic of the networked era.”
—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody

“A stimulating exercise in thinking really, really big.”
San Jose Mercury News

What Would Google Do? is an indispensable manual for survival and success in today’s internet-driven marketplace. By “reverse engineering the fastest growing company in the history of the world,” author Jeff Jarvis, proprietor of Buzzmachine.com, one of the Web’s most widely respected media blogs, offers indispensible strategies for solving the toughest new problems facing businesses today. With a new afterword from the author, What Would Google Do? is the business book that every leader or potential leader in every industry must read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061726330
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/27/2009
Edition description: Unabridged, 9.75 Hours, 8 CDs
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jeff Jarvis is the proprietor of one of the web’s most popular and respected blogs about media, Buzzmachine.com. He heads the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. He was named one of a hundred worldwide media leaders by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2007–11 and was the creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly magazine. He is the author of the forthcoming book Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live.

Jeff Jarvis is the proprietor of one of the web’s most popular and respected blogs about media, Buzzmachine.com. He heads the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. He was named one of a hundred worldwide media leaders by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2007–11 and was the creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly magazine. He is the author of the forthcoming book Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live.

Read an Excerpt

What Would Google Do? LP

By Jeff Jarvis
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009

Jeff Jarvis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061719912

Chapter One


It seems as if no company, executive, or institution truly understands how to survive and prosper in the internet age.

Except Google.

So, faced with most any challenge today, it makes sense to ask: WWGD? What would Google do?

In management, commerce, news, media, manufacturing, marketing, service industries, investing, politics, government, and even education and religion, answering that question is a key to navigating a world that has changed radically and forever.

That world is upside-down, inside-out, counterintuitive, and confusing. Who could have imagined that a free classified service could have had a profound and permanent effect on the entire newspaper industry, that kids with cameras and internet connections could gather larger audiences than cable networks could, that loners with keyboards could bring down politicians and companies, and that dropouts could build companies worth billions? They didn't do it by breaking rules. They operate by new rules of a new age, among them:

  • Customers are now in charge. They can be heard around the globe and have an impact on huge institutions in an instant.
  • People can find each other anywhere and coalesce around you—or against you.
  • The mass marketis dead, replaced by the mass of niches.
  • "Markets are conversations," decreed The Cluetrain Manifesto, the seminal work of the internet age, in 2000. That means the key skill in any organization today is no longer marketing but conversing.
  • We have shifted from an economy based on scarcity to one based on abundance. The control of products or distribution will no longer guarantee a premium and a profit.
  • Enabling customers to collaborate with you—in creating, distributing, marketing, and supporting products—is what creates a premium in today's market.
  • The most successful enterprises today are networks—which extract as little value as possible so they can grow as big as possible—and the platforms on which those networks are built.
  • Owning pipelines, people, products, or even intellectual property is no longer the key to success. Openness is.

Google's founders and executives understand the change brought by the internet. That is why they are so successful and powerful, running what The Times of London dubbed "the fastest growing company in the history of the world." The same is true of a few disruptive capitalists and quasi-capitalists such as Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook; Craig Newmark, who calls himself founder and customer service representative—no joke—at craigslist; Jimmy Wales, cofounder of Wikipedia; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon; and Kevin Rose, creator of Digg. They see a different world than the rest of us and make different decisions as a result, decisions that make no sense under old rules of old industries that are now blown apart thanks to these new ways and new thinkers.

That is why the smart response to all this change is to ask what these disrupters—what Mark, Craig, Jimmy, Jeff, Kevin, and, of course, Google—would do. Google generously shares its own philosophy on its web site, setting out the "10 things Google has found to be true." They are smart but obvious PowerPoint lines helpful in employee indoctrination (especially necessary when your headcount explodes by 50 percent in a year—to 16,000 at the end of 2007 and to 20,000 before the end of the following year): "Focus on the user and all else will follow," Google decrees. "It's best to do one thing really, really well. . . . Fast is better than slow. . . . You can make money without doing evil. . . . There's always more information out there. . . . The need for information crosses all borders. . . ." These are useful, but they don't tell the entire story. There's more to learn from watching Google.

The question I ask in the title is about thinking in new ways, facing new challenges, solving problems with new solutions, seeing new opportunities, and understanding a different way to look at the structure of the economy and society. I try to see the world as Google sees it, analyzing and deconstructing its success from a distance so we can apply what we learn to our own companies, institutions, and careers. Together, we will reverse-engineer Google. You can bring this same discipline to other competitors, companies, and leaders whose success you find puzzling but admirable. In fact, you must.

Google is our model for thinking in new ways because it is so singularly successful. Hitwise, which measures internet traffic, reported that Google had 71 percent share of searches in the United States and 87 percent in the United Kingdom in 2008. With its acquisition of ad-serving company DoubleClick in 2008, Google controlled 69 percent of online ad serving, according to Attributor, and 24 percent of online ad revenue, according to IDC. In the U.K., Google's ad revenue grew past the largest single commercial TV entity, ITV, in 2008, and it is next expected to surpass the revenue of all British national newspapers combined. It is still exploding: Google's traffic in 2007 was up 22.4 percent in a year. Google no longer says how many servers its runs—estimates run into the millions—and it has stopped saying how many pages it monitors, but when it started in 1998, it indexed 26 million pages; by 2000, it tracked one billion; and in mid-2008 it said it followed one trillion web addresses. In 2007 and again in 2008, says the Millward Brown BrandZ Top 100, Google was the number one brand in the world.

By contrast, Yahoo and AOL, each a former king of the online hill, are already has-beens. They operate under the old rules. They control content and distribution and think they can own customers, relationships, and attention. They create destinations and have the hubris to think customers should come to them. They spend a huge proportion of their revenue on marketing to get those people there and work hard to keep them there. Yahoo! is the last old-media company.

Google is the first post-media company. Unlike Yahoo, Google is not a portal. It is a network and a platform. Google thinks in distributed ways. It goes to the people. There are bits of Google spread all over the web. About a third of Google's revenue—expected to total $20 billion in 2008—is earned not at Google.com but at sites all over the internet. Here's how they do it: The Google AdSense box on the home page of my blog, Buzzmachine.com, makes me part of Google's empire. Google sends me money for those ads. Google sends me readers via search. Google benefits by showing those readers more of its ads, which it can make more relevant, effective, and profitable because it knows what my site is about. I invited Google in because Google helps me do what I want to do.


Excerpted from What Would Google Do? LP by Jeff Jarvis Copyright © 2009 by Jeff Jarvis. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Marc Benioff

“Jeff Jarvis’s What Would Google Do? is a divining rod for anyone looking for ways to hit real paydirt in the new territory of Web 2.0 marketing. Jarvis has a sharp eye for what is relevant, real, and actionable. Isn’t that what we all need today?”

Clay Shirky

“Jeff Jarvis has written an indispensable guide to the business logic of the networked era, because he sees the opportunities in giving the people control, and understands the risks in letting your competitors get there first.”

Craig Newmark

“What Would Google Do? is an exceptional book that captures the massive changes the internet is effecting in our culture, in marketing, and in advertising.”

Chris Anderson

“Google is not just a company, it is an entirely new way of thinking about understanding who we are and what we want. Jarvis has done something really important: extend that approach to business and culture, revealing just how revolutionary it is.”

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What Would Google Do? 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeff Jarvis offers his insight on how businesses should run according to his 40 rules based on how Google became so successful. He explains how companies are still thinking in the old ways of hiding things from the customers and that nowadays those things won't work well with people who can now pull up Google and search it. Jarvis talks about how businesses need to be more open like Google in order to survive and make better products. Although Jarvis elaborates on how to be more like Google he goes on and on about the same thing and ultimately it gets boring and this is what bring the book down.
iamdavebowers More than 1 year ago
In this book Jeff Jarvis attempts to dissect why Google has become the fastest growing company in the history of the planet. He studies their laws and ethos and then applies it to other industries, showing how they can `googlify' themselves for the post internet world. To many extents this book succeeds, except for a couple of major failings. I regularly listen to Jeff on Leo Laporte's Twit (This Week in Tech) network which is worth seeking out if you're not aware of it, where he shows he is the right author for this book. He has years of experience in the entertainment and internet industry and has a deep understanding of Google's methods. I had high hopes for this title, that I would walk away enlightened, with new business ideas. I did. However I'm not as sure of them as I perhaps should be. You see Jeff explains why `everything should be searchable and linkable', why `you can't beat free', why `atoms are the old method, internet is the new'. So why is Jeff publishing this as a book, not a free, advert supported eBook or a website? Money, that's why. He says it himself in the book. So if you can't practice what you preach (and it's very preachy), why should I believe your other advice Jeff? Is your book not available free online because that method doesn't work? Because it isn't viable? Jeff talks about web content and how the mass of niches will beat the old system - being able to find what you want rather than being told. Which is accurate, but he largely ignores the argument of quality over quantity, that the mass of niches will only work if great content is produced and wins out. For the most part he ignores that the reason Google succeeds is because they make great quality products for free. How many people can afford to do that? Not Jeff, he's got my money. Lastly, he talks about the power of the masses, the bloggers, how customer services (CS) is everything. How a company should spend it's money on CS, not advertising, let your fans be your adverts. Fine point. But if that happened, Google, who's revenue stream is advertising, would die a horrible death. There is much to like about this book. It really does give a good snapshot of how marketing and the internet is changing and should be read by every CEO to understand the power great products and good customer service. Just don't expect it to change your business models, yet.
Aradanryl More than 1 year ago
Well-written with disarming clarity, I read this book in small doses so I could think about what he was saying. I like books that make me at least consider something new and this one definitely does this.

Although I read quietly for the most part, I startled myself when I heard a hearty "I wish" as I read the chapter on Google U. I was so surprised to learn Jeff himself is part of the tenured faculty. I suspect I'd enjoy being in his class. And I would never have guessed he was in academia from the readability of this book. Academia so often prefers to use 1,000 words when 10 would do.

I also wholeheartedly agree with his comment about it is now time for our government to be open, searchable and linkable by default. So much waste would be challenged and reduced, any citizen could do their part with nothing more than common sense, a computer and the internet.

More than anything, this book helped me see the web is a place where I can start small and still have something to contribute. I not only enjoyed the book, it changed some of my thinking in ways I never expected.
M-GEE More than 1 year ago
Jarvis's book is VERY detailed and contains informative and insightful information on Google's business model that helped make it successful. He says that one of the things that makes Google great is their openness with their users. However, the book becomes very repetitive to the point that makes it slightly unenjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
WWGD - What would Google Do - is a book about the new ways that internet is changing our lives, and how the best to benefit from it. Despite its title, this is not a book about Google, at least not in a sense that it makes any effort to deeply analyze and try to explain in nonobvious terms the source of Google's success. Recently I came across a picture online which depicts a small store somewhere in India that without any shame or sense of propriety named itslef "Google." Google has indeed become a global fenomenon and one of the strongest brands in the world, and it is not surprising to find people trying to profit from being associated with it in any way imaginable. After reading this book, one can't help feel that the use of Google was a similar ploy on the part of the author. The book is filled with case studies and examples of where an online company supposedly benefited from emulating a "Google" model of doing things, even when that connection is tenuous at best. Oftentimes, as in the case of Facebook for instance, this is downright ridiculous: Facebook is lauded for opening up its application development system, while in fact Facebook is a paragon of the "old" way of approaching content on the internet - a closed garden, not an open platform. Although there are indeed many problems with the way that many old online companies were doing business, it is far from clear that the Google model is a panacea that fits every company and internet technology business model equally well. In fact, to this day Google has been unequivocally successful at doing exactly one thing - search. The book also suffers from not having a clear focus. There are many interesting and novel ides thrown around, but it is unclear what ties them all together. The writing style is fairly accessible and if you want to read something from one of the insides of the new online media world, this would be as good a read as they come. But don't expect to get any concrete ideas about either the inside scoop on how Google works or for your next business venture. One gets a sense that the author has absorbed way too much jargon and hype in order for this to happen.
JG19 More than 1 year ago
Using Google's success, Jarvis creates rules for people in the business world. By using his strategies and taking it into your own business, internet and even in the real world, you will be guaranteed success. Thus being said, one of the rules stated is that if you give your costumers the power to help improve your product they will be more interested in promoting it. Jarvis makes it clear that we are in an era where society is greatly evolved around the internet. For example, if Google says something poorly about your company, thousands, even millions of people will think poorly about your company. In all, anyone interested in how the internet has become such an huge impact on companies and businesses and how they are now going to better from it or anyone looking to start their own business, definitely take a look at this book!
ChandlerK More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, although I felt that Jarvis was extremely repetitive and explained things that were unnecessary. I found myself bored while reading this book several times, and almost forcing an interest of the book. I thought Jarvis was creative with his analogies of Google, and how monumental the search engine has become to this generation, although I did find some of his points to be contradictory. Jarvis maintained a strong theme of the importance of the website, but attempted to aim at the re-evaluation of one's perspective of the world. The book was mainly focused on the benefits of Google, rather than obtaining a new approach on life.
mrjay More than 1 year ago
Jarvis begins by analyzing modern culture and the effects that the internet has had. Google is the most successful and fast-growing company of our day, and has had a huge effect on how people think and live. He then breaks down the company's structure, and extracts "rules" that other industries should follow in order to be successful. Jarvis also explores innovative ideas for the future, examines many current businesses, and concentrates the reader's thought-process to match that of the creators of Google. The message that Jarvis portrays is that our society is shaped around and reliant on the internet. I do agree with him, and see it even in my own life. My internet home page is, in fact, Google, and I have found the internet to be more of a necessity than a luxury. My favorite part of the book was Jarvis' innovative ideas for the future, rather than his theories of how an industry can thrive. I find business to be very boring, and because that was all that this book was about, it was not my favorite read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Google is the world's most widely used search engine. Its users conduct hundreds of millions of searches daily, many pursuing links from corporate ads. Each time you click on a company's paid link, Google makes money. Already one of the best-known corporations on the planet, Google continues to grow tremendously as it sets the paradigm for booming Internet commerce. Author Jeff Jarvis explains what makes Google and other successful Web companies tick, and what your company can learn from its strategic concepts. He explains how to use a set of Internet business axioms he dubs the "Google Rules." getAbstract finds (with little searching) that Jarvis provides an essential corporate road map for this era of radical change. To learn more about this book, check out the following link: http://www.getabstract.com/summary/12005/what-would-google-do.html
jcrubicon More than 1 year ago
Jeff Jarvis has done a great job of presenting a thought-provoking premise: What would Google do? ... even if he has to credit Google with transformations and transitions which were truly catalyzed by the broader impact of the Internet. No, Al Gore did not invent Google. "What would Google do?" is at its best describing Google culture, vision and world-view; it is much less valuable when the adjunct professor in Jarvis tries to ascribe too much to the already large impact wrought by Google. Unlike Google, which clearly knows what it is and is not -- the great assembler and provider of, in co-founder Sergey Brin's term, "elegant organization," -- Jarvis tries to claim everything else for Google, as well. Jarvis seems only slightly more impressed with Google then he is with himself and his (too) often cited blog, Buzzmachine. Important world views of abundance v. scarcity; freedom v. restriction; empowerment v. control, which Jarvis gives to Google, are in fact, benefits and opportunities presented by the Internet that are available to all of our endeavours in this digital age. Asking yourself where you/your organization sits on these various polarities is a uniquely urgent question. Its implications, in fact, are more important to society then to individual organizations. Think: education, health care, poverty, climate and terrorism, for starters. There are great lessons for businesses, nonprofits and governments in "What would Google do? ... and certainly, as we start the second decade of our new millenium ... there could be far worse models to benchmark than Google. However, two core questions which the book poses -- what business are you in? and are you genuinely pleasing your customers? -- are asked by any great enterprise. In fact, it is excellence in asking/answering these two questions, that are at the core of the success of the company Jarvis cites as the "Un-Google" -- Apple. Thus, Apple is the worm in Jarvis' all-things-to-Google premise
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author of Barbarians at the Gate has written another spell binding history, this time of the rise of the oil wealth in Texas. The characters are fascinating and Burrough manages to tell the story so that they come alive. A great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MCCarr More than 1 year ago
Very interesting.
Tom_Matzen More than 1 year ago
I loved the premise, and found the approach to be jarring in the most positive way. If you want to really push the envelope with a business for the 21st Century, you owe it to yourself to read this, and now. We've now bought several copies, all our senior team have read it, and we've created several projects as a direct result of the issues explored. I especially like the "how does it apply to other businesses" back half of the book. We're using it to help take us public, and re-structure two of our four divisions at Parmasters, and likely the other two will follow suit shortly.
G-man60 More than 1 year ago
Jarvis captures much of what Google has accomplished to-date, but more importantly, he lays out (in an understandable style) the thought processes behind their success, and the implications for the future (both inside & out of the world of technology). Weaving in other early Internet success stores (Facebook, for example), he links the "distributed platform" concept with the concept of "elegant organization." Anyone interested in how all of these companies (with Google at the forefront) are likely to impact each of our lives (now & in the future) will find this to be a fascinating read (not to mention a quick & easy read, for all of us who are pressed for time).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In today's world of digital human interaction, branding of one's self is not only manageable, but perhaps necessary. Jeff Jarvis, provides both a compelling argument for why this is so as well as some easy to follow insight into how the reader can and should capitalize on today's technology to optimize both their own individual brand and that of their organization. Using Web 2.0 platforms effectively can reap wonderful rewards. Not using Web 2.0 might be just as detrimental as using it ineffectively. In addition, Mr. Jarvis also awakens one's mind to the importance of really paying attention to what one's critic are saying. Even more important, if you are a company, you had better be listening to - or reading - what your angry customers are saying and reacting promptly and appropriately. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but today, the keyboard is the mightiest of them all.
PHazlett More than 1 year ago
What Would Google Do? is Jeff Jarvis's marvelous analysis of how the internet(not just google)is changing the world and shows what all businesses not just internet businesses should do to become successful. Such strategies like your worst customer is your best friend, be a platform, and how to make successful mistakes. If there is a major theme I would take away from this book is that if you give your customers control they will use it and you will come out ahead. To put it simply if you give your customers power to give suggestions and the ability to use and help improve your product and service they will become more interested in your product and promote your product. I personally found this book to be a wonderful thought provoking novel that constantly had me thinking about each chapter. The only dislike I could think of this book was that Jarvis tends to ramble slightly throughout the book but if you stay with him he will bring you back to point. Everyone I think should read this book, its a very intelligent book that kept me entertained and opened my eyes to a different perspective of the world around me.
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