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In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

by Steven Levy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8384220,110 (3.92)17
Written with full cooperation from top management at Google, this is the story behind the most successful and admired technology company of our time. Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that has transformed the Internet and become an indispensable part of our lives. How has Google done it? The author, a technology reporter was granted access to the company, and in this book he takes readers inside Google headquarters, the Googleplex to show how Google works. While they were still students at Stanford, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized Internet search. They followed this brilliant innovation with another, as two of Google's earliest employees found a way to do what no one else had: make billions of dollars from Internet advertising. With this cash cow (until Google's IPO nobody other than Google management had any idea how lucrative the company's ad business was), Google was able to expand dramatically and take on other transformative projects: more efficient data centers, open source cell phones, free Internet video (YouTube), cloud computing, digitizing books, and much more. The key to Google's success in all these businesses, the author reveals, is its engineering mind set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. After its unapologetically elitist approach to hiring, Google pampers its engineers, free food and dry cleaning, on site doctors and masseuses, and gives them all the resources they need to succeed. Even today, with a workforce of more than 23,000, Larry Page signs off on every hire. But has Google lost its innovative edge? It stumbled badly in China, and the author discloses what went wrong and how Brin disagreed with his peers on the China strategy. And now with its newest initiative, social networking, Google is chasing a successful competitor for the first time. Some employees are leaving the company for smaller, nimbler start ups. Can the company that famously decided not to be evil still compete?… (more)
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» See also 17 mentions

English (41)  French (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Interesting look at Google. Even as someone who generally follows the tech world and the history of Google, this book had some interesting insights. ( )
  royragsdale | Sep 22, 2021 |
Levy is a gifted writer with plenty of experience in the technology sector. He was given an unprecedented level of access to the inner workings of Google and enough security latitude to roam around the Googleplex gathering material for this book, and it shows. A narrative of Levy's experience exploring one of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley, as well as a history of search, data mining, and algorithmic complexity, the author takes the reader from the humble beginnings of a startup founded by two Stanford University students in a garage to the lofty heights of world dominance. A quality business/tech read. ( )
  wyclif | Sep 22, 2021 |
I listened to the Audible version of this book. It was a very interesting history of Google and many of their products. I gained a better understanding of the company and their history, and it almost made me want to work there. ( )
  atari_guy | May 11, 2021 |
Fascinating, the stories of the development of different features are interesting, but it's a bit overloaded on details and also a bit too worshipful. A lot to slog through. ( )
  ekrst | Jan 24, 2021 |
An expansive and well written book but I cannot get over how sycophantic it is. Made me cringe and sick in my stomach from all the obsequious reverence. On every issue it follows the Google narrative to the letter. Absolutely zero attempt is taken to show any dissenting opinion or even a pretence of objectivity. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Levyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ganser, L. J.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memory of Philip Klass (1920-2010)
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"Have you heard of Google?"
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Written with full cooperation from top management at Google, this is the story behind the most successful and admired technology company of our time. Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that has transformed the Internet and become an indispensable part of our lives. How has Google done it? The author, a technology reporter was granted access to the company, and in this book he takes readers inside Google headquarters, the Googleplex to show how Google works. While they were still students at Stanford, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized Internet search. They followed this brilliant innovation with another, as two of Google's earliest employees found a way to do what no one else had: make billions of dollars from Internet advertising. With this cash cow (until Google's IPO nobody other than Google management had any idea how lucrative the company's ad business was), Google was able to expand dramatically and take on other transformative projects: more efficient data centers, open source cell phones, free Internet video (YouTube), cloud computing, digitizing books, and much more. The key to Google's success in all these businesses, the author reveals, is its engineering mind set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. After its unapologetically elitist approach to hiring, Google pampers its engineers, free food and dry cleaning, on site doctors and masseuses, and gives them all the resources they need to succeed. Even today, with a workforce of more than 23,000, Larry Page signs off on every hire. But has Google lost its innovative edge? It stumbled badly in China, and the author discloses what went wrong and how Brin disagreed with his peers on the China strategy. And now with its newest initiative, social networking, Google is chasing a successful competitor for the first time. Some employees are leaving the company for smaller, nimbler start ups. Can the company that famously decided not to be evil still compete?

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