Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
It’s not uncommon to hear Google’s company name discussed in the vein of superlatives. Google’s products have become so ingrained in our society and culture that the company is often referred to as “the most revolutionary in the history of commerce” or “taking over the world.” In his new book entitled Googled: The End of The World as We Know It, author Ken Auletta explains how Google arrived at this place.
Auletta, author of several “insider” business titles, was given unprecedented access to Google’s highly private and reclusive founders and top-tier executives. While the book is a compelling look at the founding and evolution of Google itself, much of what is in the book is already widely known. Nonetheless, Auletta does a nice job of synthesizing a story that has rapidly evolved over a number of years.
Since Google is so important to those looking to thrive online, greater understanding of the company can’t hurt. The following are a few interesting points, take-aways, and thoughts for those intrigued by one of the most revolutionary companies in the world:
- Google’s motto is: Don’t be evil. It may sound trite or overly-simple, but the author shows that this distinguishable concept genuinely guides the decision-making at the company in an umbrella fashion.
- In 2003 Mel Karmazin, former CEO of Viacom and current CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio, initially chided the Google founders for “messing with the magic”–the magic being the vague veil behind more traditional media where advertisers paid for exposure without much detailed reporting on impressions, responses, and ROI. Google’s pay-per-click model has essentially destroyed that way of thinking and the “old” advertising business model.
- Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page initially created and used “the airplane test” as a litmus test for hiring. This simple test challenged the team to think about whether or not they would want to sit next to a potential hire on an airplane for several hours. If you would, chances are that this would be a good hire.
- Google’s guiding principle for its search engine and tools is to “do right by users.”
- Google was the first to use a derivative of the Vickrey auction style to sell advertising space.
- The sharp rise in Google’s stock has provoked the following question: Is Google’s culture great because its stock is doing well or is the stock doing well because the culture is great?
- Google has fallen under strong criticism from a number of privacy advocates because of the amount of personal data that it collects and stores. The company’s founders respond that trust in the company is essential to its success and that all of its use of personal information allows them to create better user experiences. In turn, people with the right information will make better decisions for themselves–essential absorbing value.
- Al Gore, a board member of Apple and senior advisor to Google, interestingly compared the Google founders with Steve Jobs in this way: “Steve [Jobs] has the great if painful experience of failing and coming back.” The wisdom that comes from failure has not yet punched Page and Brin.
- Google’s ultimate vision is to become not just the leader in interactive advertising, but the leader in all advertising.
It could be argued that Auletta’s book could move a bit more rapidly. However, on the whole, his book delivers a thorough understanding of the company’s culture, evolution, and future direction. For those seeking to learn more about how Google grows and functions, this book does not disappoint.