Monday, September 15, 2008

Book Review: The Google Story

I thought I know almost everything about Google by keeping closely with Slashdot: How 2 smart guys from Stanford make the best Search Engine in the world and now they earn money by selling targeted text-based advertisement.

Nevertheless, the beginning of Google is still a very interesting read, and to let you peek of what kind of people Sergey Brin and Larry Page actually is. Google started in the days where Search Engine is not a big deal, and certainly not a cash-cow. Yahoo primary focus is not the search engine, where to emphasis more on portal, email and their Internet Directory. So 2 smart guys from Stanford thinks that we need a better Search Engine so that we can actually find what we wanted from the big Internet, and have absolutely no clue how to make any money yet. They started of at Stanford University using an array to cheap computers (couldn’t afford IBM’s server) to crawl the Internet and implemented the famous PageRank algorithm. gotten too famous and needed more computers (and more money to buy them) to support its web traffic, and they manage to get an Angel investor through the help of the University’s Professor to invest USD 100,000 without any paperwork nor a business plan on how to make money (just because the idea sounds interesting). Then the whole think got bigger and they need to source for millions in funding using some really smart maneuver, ended getting the money from 2 of the biggest VCs and still be in control of the company (which is really rare). Even during their IPO, the founder have this Class B shares which allow them to have more votes than ordinary shareholders just to be in control of the company. You could say they are real control freaks, but they just believed they are the best man for the job (just like the Kennedy Brothers).

A few interesting facts:
  • The Google founders are really very smart people in terms of technical knowledge (especially mathematics) and business negotiation. They aren’t just Techie, more like Genius who could make good use of their talent in the world of business and technology.
  • Google started with no business plan, just a solution to solve a problem. They only figured out the AdWord thing at a much later stage.
  • Google like to do things the unconventional ways and breaking the norm. Maybe "normal" is not a good thing after all.
  • Google always think that they could come up with better solutions in a technologist and scientific way. It might be arrogant, it work out for the better most of the time.
  • Google prefer small team for project, between 4-5 persons.
  • Google always focus on coming out with a better product or useful solution and think of how to monetize it later.
  • Eric Schmidt runs the daily operation of Google so that Larry and Sergey could focus on innovation. The founders still sign-off on new hires.
  • Google allow their employees to spent 20% of their time on projects which they like, so that talented people don’t run away with the idea and start a rival company.
  • Google’s offer free and healthy meals, free massage, free laundry, free annual ski trip, etc.
  • Google "Don't Be Evil" motto: with more power easily come the temptation to abuse or corrupt.
  • Google channel 1% of their resources for Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, RechargeIT, Predict and Prevent, Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services, and Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Anyway, the book is quite an interesting read until half way through, and I got bored from there onwards.

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