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Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page



Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page

Janet Lowe

ISBN: 978-0-470-50124-5 April 2009 336 Pages


In many ways, Google is the prototype of a successful twenty-first-century company. It uses technology in new ways to make information universally accessible; promotes a corporate culture that encourages creativity among its employees; and takes its role as a corporate citizen very seriously, investing in green initiatives and developing the largest corporate foundation in the United States.

Following in the footsteps of Warren Buffett Speaks and Jack Welch Speaks—which contain a conversational style that successfully captures the essence of these business leaders—Google Speaks reveals the amazing story behind one of the most important new companies of our time by exploring the people and philosophies that have made it a global phenomenon in less than fifteen years.

Written by bestselling author Janet Lowe, this book offers an engaging look at how Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, transformed their vision of a better Internet search engine into a business colossus with about $16 billion in annual revenue. Lowe discusses the values that drive Brin and Page—for example, how they both live fairly modest lives, despite each having a net worth in excess of $15.9 billion—and details how they have created a culture that fosters fun while, at the same time, keeping Google at the forefront of technology through relentless R&D investments and imaginative partnerships with organizations such as NASA.

In addition to examining Google's breakthrough business strategies and new business models—which have transformed online advertising and changed the way we look at corporate responsibility and employee relations—Lowe explains why Google may be a harbinger of where corporate America is headed. She also addresses controversies surrounding Google, such as copyright infringement, antitrust concerns, and personal privacy and poses the question almost every successful company must face: as Google grows, can it hold on to its entrepreneurial spirit as well as its informal motto, "Don't do evil"?

What started out as a university research project conducted by Sergey Brin and Larry Page has ended up revolutionizing the world we live in. Google Speaks puts these incredible entrepreneurs in perspective and shows you how their drive and determination have allowed them to create one of today's most powerful companies.

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

The Google Guys 13

Sergey Brin 13

Russian Roots 13

American Passage 14

Educating Sergey 15

The Road to Stanford 15

Boy Genius to Adult Genius 16

Wedding on a Caribbean Sand Bar 17

23andMe 18

Flying High 20

Larry Page 21

Cradled in a Computer Culture 22

Nikola Tesla, Page’s Hero 23

Tesla’s Story 24

The Tesla Car 25

Motivated by Montessori 26

The Leadership Program 27

The Solar Racer 28

Go West, Larry 28

Lego-centricity 29

Mensa Boy 30

Larry Gets Married 30

The X-Prize 31

No More Laundry 32

The Power of Partnership 33

Forging the Stanford Connection 35

A Creative Environment 35

A Poignant History 37

An Academic or an Entrepreneur? 39

A Grim Goodbye 39

Networking at Its Best 40

Burning Man 42

Adult Supervision 44

The Collective Wisdom of Silicon Valley 45

He’s Been the Rock; They’ve Been the Rockets 46

A Man of Influence 47

Climbing a Different Kind of Mountain 50

In The Beginning 51

The Ultimate Search Engine 55

Not Inventing, but Improving Upon 57

Look Around You for Inspiration 59

How Search Works 60

Platform Power 63

Open Platform 66

Google By Any Other Name 68

A Blessed Blunder 68

From Noun to Verb 69

Playing with the Name 70

The Google Logo 71

The Google Doodle 72

Google Zeitgeist 74

A Company is Born 78

Yahoo! Drew the Map 79

The Requisite Garage 81

The Venture Capitalists 83

The Elusive Business Plan 86

Investing in Wild Ideas 88

Good Ideas Put to Good Use 91

Dealing with Dark Matter 91

Aversion to Advertising 93

Advertising that Delivers Results 95

Two Ways to Advertise:

AdWords and AdSense 96

Extending the Google Reach 100

The Science of Advertising 101

Google Didn’t Advertise Itself—at First 101

Birth of the Google Economy 104

Going Public 106

“We’re Different” 109

The Dutch Auction 111

Buffett on Google 113

Berkshire Hathaway’s Share

Structure versus Google’s 114

The Playboy Interview 116

Ten Years Later 118

The Vision 123

Make It Useful 125

The Many Ways to Google 127

Make It Big 132

We Serve the World 133

Make It Fun 135

Google Users Hearken to the Call 138

Don’t Do Evil 139

How Google Defines Evil 140

The Motto Loses Some Shine 143

Can Free Speech Go Too Far? 144

Make It Free 146

Google Culture 148

New Management Style 149

Ten Things Google Has Found to Be True 153

Riding the Long Tail 156

20 Percent Projects 157

Perpetual Beta 159

Fabled Workplace 160

An Alternative Point of View 163

Googleplex 164

Google in Ireland 168

Top Ten Reasons to Work at Google 169

The Battle for Brainpower 171

Guarding the Secrets 177

Google Grows Up 180

Conflicts and Controversy 181

Click Fraud 182

Avoiding—or Not Avoiding—Pornography 184

Privacy Issue 188

Advertising Products 190

Gmail 192

Street View 193

Can They Snoop—and Will They Tell? 197

Hello, Human Rights 200

The Great Chinese Firewall 201

Principles of Freedom 203

Copyright Infringement 205

The Authors’ Revolt 205

Grand Ambitions 206

The Snippet Defense 208

Whose Property Is It, Anyway? 209

All About Advertising 209

The Game-Changing Settlement 210

Lawsuits Everywhere 212

Google Gets an Airplane 218

Google Gets a Satellite 220

Good Citizen Google 223—the Philanthropic Part 225

Google and the Environment 227

Renewable Energy Less than Coal 229

Geothermal Power 230

Energy from the Sea 230

Energy-Efficient Googleplex 231

Google’s Future 233

Artificial Intelligence 238

Onward to Web 3.0 241

Cloud Computing 243

YouTube 248

The Google Phone 250

White Spaces 254

The Dominant Power in the Industry? 259

Google, Microsoft, and the Internet Civil War 264

The Battle of Yahoo! 267

Gates on Google 271

Conclusion 273

Lessons from Larry and Sergey 278

The Traits of Those Who Change the World 279

Timeline 281

Glossary 288

Notes 295

Permissions 315