There are companies that create waves and those that ride or are drowned by them. As only he can, bestselling author Ken Auletta takes readers for a ride on the Google wave, telling the story of how it formed and crashed into traditional media businesses-from newspapers to books, to television, to movies, to telephones, to advertising, to Microsoft.Read more...
There are companies that create waves and those that ride or are drowned by them. As only he can, bestselling author Ken Auletta takes readers for a ride on the Google wave, telling the story of how it formed and crashed into traditional media businesses-from newspapers to books, to television, to movies, to telephones, to advertising, to Microsoft. With unprecedented access to Google's founders and executives, as well as to those in media who are struggling to keep their heads above water, Auletta reveals how the industry is being disrupted and redefined.
Using Google as a stand-in for the digital revolution, Auletta takes readers inside Google's closed-door meetings and paints portraits of Google's notoriously private founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as those who work with-and against-them. In his narrative, Auletta provides the fullest account ever told of Google's rise, shares the "secret sauce" of Google's success, and shows why the worlds of "new" and "old" media often communicate as if residents of different planets.
Google engineers start from an assumption that the old ways of doing things can be improved and made more efficient, an approach that has yielded remarkable results -- Google will generate about $20 billion in advertising revenues this year, or more than the combined prime-time ad revenues of CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. And with its ownership of YouTube and its mobile phone and other initiatives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt tells Auletta his company is poised to become the world's first $100 billion media company. Yet there are many obstacles that threaten Google's future, and opposition from media companies and government regulators may be the least of these. Google faces internal threats, from its burgeoning size to losing focus to hubris. In coming years, Google's faith in mathematical formulas and in slide rule logic will be tested, just as it has been on Wall Street.
Distilling the knowledge accrued from a career of covering the media, Auletta will offer insights into what we know, and don't know, about what the future holds for the imperiled industry.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 50.
- Review Date: 2009-08-24
- Reviewer: Staff
Two Googles emerge in this savvy profile of the Internet search octopus. The first is the actual company, with its mixture of business acumen and naïve idealism (“Don't Be Evil” is the corporate slogan); its brilliant engineering feats and grad-students-at-play company culture; its geek founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two billionaires who imbibe their antiestablishment rectitude straight from Burning Man; its pseudo-altruistic quest to offer all the world's information for free while selling all the world's advertising at a hefty profit. The second Google is a monstrous metaphor for all the creative destruction that the Internet has wrought on the crumbling titans of old media, who find themselves desperately wondering how they will make money off of news, music, video and books now that people can Google up all these things without paying a dime. The first Google makes for a standard-issue tech-industry grunge-to-riches business story, its main entertainment value being Brin's and Page's comical lack of social graces. But New Yorker columnist Auletta (World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies) makes the second Google a starting point for a sharp and probing analysis of the apocalyptic upheavals in the media and entertainment industries. (Nov. 3)
Behind the scenes of an Internet giant
Google is little more than a decade old, but look at the impact it has already had on our lives. It processes more than 70 percent of all searches on the web and generates $20 billion in annual advertising revenue. It is the site of choice not only to search the Internet, but to correspond by Gmail, to get driving directions on Google Maps, to make a free phone call using Google Voice or even to watch a video on YouTube, which Google acquired in 2006. The search engine is so ubiquitous, in fact, that it has become a verb; people don’t conduct a search anymore, they “google.” Author Ken Auletta tackles the phenomenal growth of Google in his new book, Googled: The End of the World as We Know It. The title is provocative, but misleading. This is no treatise on how Google has become Big Brother. Auletta’s book, rather, is a fairly straightforward biography of Google and its founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. He takes a chronological approach, recounting how the pair met at Stanford, how they began their venture in a spartan Silicon Valley office building and how they never lost sight of their vision to become the world’s largest media company. The year-by-year account of Google’s growth can be tedious at times, but Googled does provide some intimate details of a company notorious for its secrecy. That’s because Auletta had unprecedented access to GooglePlex, the Mountain View, California, headquarters where Google now employs 20,000 people. Thus, we have an opportunity to sit in on the free-wheeling Friday afternoon Q&A sessions between Brin, Page and their employees. We witness the tough hiring process, where applicants are told they have a better chance of being accepted to Harvard than getting a job at Google. And we get a taste of the hubris of Google, where its engineers believe that any challenge can be overcome with a mathematical algorithm. If there is a shortcoming to Googled, it’s that it doesn’t take as critical a look at the company as suggested in its subtitle. But overall, Googled does deliver an insider’s look at a dynamic company that, for better or worse, has changed our lives. John T. Slania is a journalism professor at Loyola University in Chicago.