The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time
by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed
I’ve written more than 120 book reviews thus far and have never suggested that any book was targeted for any particular audience. However, we all know that there’s a first time for everything, and I guess this is one of those times. There’s no doubt in my mind that this particular book will only appeal to you if you are a geek … or a business person … or an entrepreneur … or an investor … or a dreamer … or a techie … or a young person … or a proud parent … or a visionary … or a grad student … or a person who enjoys a great success story. I’ll stop there, although the list goes on and on. I’m sure you get the picture. This is a must read!
However, it might be wise to understand a little bit about the authors. David Vise is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post and author of three books, and Mark Malseed has contributed to the Washington Post and the Boston Herald as well as doing a great deal of research on Bob Woodward’s recent books. Although both authors are reputable writers, you might get the feel that they are great fans of the founders as they tend to focus on all of the wonderful, positive aspects of Google’s rise to being the titan of search. Don’t expect a negative word about the founders or the company, which might lead some to think the book lacks objectivity. However, other authors, magazines, and books can and will provide you that viewpoint should you yearn for that side of the story. Meanwhile, sit back and relax as you read this captivating tale reminiscent of the popular tale of “Revenge of the Nerds.”
Here is the story behind one of the most remarkable Internet successes of our time. This book takes you inside the creation and growth of a company whose name is a favorite brand and a standard verb recognized around the world. Join these two very young billionaires as they travel from their first dorm office to an upgrade garage office to their futuristic campus headquarters where they continue their quest to “change the world.”
I don’t have the time or space to share what you’ll find captivating about this book, this company, nor the two young men you’ll meet within these pages. Let me, instead, share a few random facts. If you find them of interest, read the book. There’s much more where this came from. If these few facts don’t grab your interest … be very concerned.
- Google is a play on the word googol and refers to the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. Google’s use of the term reflects the company’s mission to organize the immense, seemingly infinite amount of information available on the web.
- Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin weren’t terribly fond of each other when they first met as Stanford University graduate students in computer science in 1995. Larry was a 24-year-old University of Michigan alumnus on a weekend visit; Sergey, 23, was among a group of students assigned to show him around. They argued about every topic they discussed. Three years later, Moscow-born Sergey and Midwest-born Larry dropped out of graduate school at Stanford to, in their own words, “change the world” through a search engine that would organize every bit of information on the web for free. They have accomplished that feat in more than 100 languages.
- Its stock is worth more than General Motors’ and Ford’s combined.
- Its staff eats for free in a dining room run by the Grateful Dead’s former chef.
- Its employees traverse the firm’s colorful Silicon Valley campus on scooters and inline skates.
- At more than 200 million requests a day, it is, by far, the world’s biggest search engine.
- More than half of those requests come from outside the United States. From 6 a.m. until noon PST, peak traffic hours for Google, more than 2,000 search queries are answered a second.
- Google’s index of web pages is the largest in the world, comprising over 3 billion web pages. If printed, this would result in a stack of paper more than 240 kilometers high. Google searches this immense collection of web pages often in less than half a second.
- Users can restrict their searches for content in 88 non-English languages. In fact, Google is working on a Klingon interface just in case.
- Google has a world-class staff of more than 1,000 employees known as Googlers. The company headquarters is called the Googleplex Campus located in Mountain View, California.
- Google Groups comprises more than 800 million Usenet messages, which is the world’s largest collection of messages or the equivalent of more than a terabyte of human conversation.
(This book review was originally published in 2005 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 13.)