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I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of…

I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

by Douglas Edwards

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2201386,259 (3.48)1
Comparing Google to an ordinary business is like comparing a rocket to an Edsel. Edwards, Employee Number 59, offers the first inside view of Google, giving readers a chance to fully experience the bizarre mix of camaraderie and competition at this phenomenal company. Edwards, Google's first director of marketing and brand management, describes it as it happened. We see the first, pioneering steps of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company's young, idiosyncratic partners; the evolution of the company's famously nonhierarchical structure (where every employee finds a problem to tackle or a feature to create and works independently); the development of brand identity; the races to develop and implement each new feature; and the many ideas that never came to pass.… (more)



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Interesting stuff. However, I hated how there would be all this grim foreshadowing every few chapters that would... peter out into nothing. Truly an irritating stylistic tic. ( )
  being_b | Jan 8, 2020 |
Author Douglas Edwards was already an experienced marketer when he started working for Google as its online brand manager. This was in 1999, long before Google went public in 2004. In I'm Feeling Lucky, he gives his inside perspective of Google's transformation from a Silicon Valley startup to a Wall Street behemoth. His focus on the wrangling between business units, as smart people grabbed onto the live wire vision of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and implemented it, was the right approach for me.

I worked in the I.T. industry during the time recounted in this book (1999-2005) and was too busy slinging code to care about the corporate side of the tools I was using - tools like Netscape's browser, Google's toolbar, and Yahoo email. This book opened my eyes to insider connections and business deals that happened during that era, and now after the dust has settled a bit, it's interesting to see where some of these titans are today.

The author is an accomplished wordsmith and his memoir is substantive, with well-thought-out sections and chapters. Readers looking for salacious personal gossip will not find it here, but there are plenty of revelations about the decisions and the cast of dreamers who made them, laying the foundation for what Google is today. ( )
  ReneEldaBard | Oct 15, 2018 |
Posted on my blog:

Title: I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59
Author: Douglas Edwards
Pages: 390 (hardcover)
Summary: Google had a crazy path from start-up to technology giant and I’m a sucker for tech start-ups, so this book was very appealing to my inner nerd. It is told, however, from a marketing department employee who joined Google early in its development, but always seemed to be just sort of along for the ride. While Edwards certainly contributed to Google brand significantly, he approaches the story of Google’s development while he was there with an approach more similar to a fly on the wall and only sometimes talks about his own adventures.

As someone who hadn’t followed Google’s rise to power very closely and simply adored the search capability when I found it (and Gmail when I was introduced to that) it was very interesting to read about the very eccentric personalities of the original idea makers. While reading this book I was constantly intimidated by the brilliance of the people working at Google, and as someone who has seen multiple recent grads get rejected from Google’s hiring crusade, it was almost reassuring.

This book tells the tale of Google from a small 60 person start-up to a giant tech company that just went public, but I sometimes found myself lost in a see of short stories. Edwards approaches this 6 year story as a collection of short episodes and often jumps to events years before or after the current story to explain some dynamic of the current telling. This meant that I rarely knew where exactly I was in the timeline of the book, but it didn’t really worry me that much. What I enjoyed about this book was the fascinating insight into what a successful start-up model is, the very entertaining stories about some now very important people, and a better understanding of what Google’s goals really were throughout this whole development.

If you like tech at all, especially if you think the quirky but brilliant techies that are currently taking over the world are people you’d like to hang with, I’d recommend picking up this book. I found it getting a little long in the middle, but once I got past 2/3 I rushed to the end because I had finally figured out the style and was content floating along the quantum jumping timeline.

More reviews at http://www.onstarshipsanddragonwings.com/ ( )
  anyaejo | Apr 2, 2013 |
An interesting insider's look at Google. The author does not have much of a technology background (he is older than the majority of the staff, and in marketing), so he does have a true 'outsider's' perspective. Some interesting insights, but no scandals, as the 'Confessions' title implies.

A good book, but a bit light on the technical details. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Audible audiobook, not listed in editions.

Fine so far as it goes. Edwards chronicles (often thematically rather than chronologically) his adventures as an early employee in Google's start-up phase. I found it interesting to read about Google, and interesting for a while to read about Edwards's interactions with company personnel and culture. However, the latter topic can be summed up more often than not as, "I suggested something, it was/wasn't adopted, I turned out to be wrong." The moral of the story might be "Grit your teeth, don't see your family for years, go on mandated recreational trips with bosses who act like adolescents, and hang on until the IPO, when you can cash out."

( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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