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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Most people know that Google is a bit special. To evolve from a two man operation in 1996 to become one of America's biggest companies, not far short of Microsoft or Apple, is some achievement. Clearly they only did this by breaking the mould in a fairly significant way. It is pretty obvious that they are different. You only have to look at their main webpage to appreciate this. As the book explains, it is not so much what is there, but what is not there. The leading search engine in the late 1990s was Yahoo and their main page was so crammed with facts, adverts, links etc, that it was quite hard to spot the search box. Google decided early on to go in a completely different direction and keep their main page very simple. That is the way it is to this day, mimicked by the likes of Bing, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. They have never been afraid to be different and to think outside of the box.

The author was Google's 59th hire, hence the title of the book and joined the company in 1999. He was employed to head up marketing rather than being a techie in a very tech led company. This book covers his experiences between 1999 and 2005 and is a fascinating insight into how the company was run and what made it different. Google had a very flat management structure so everyone got involved in all aspects of the organisation and you get the inside track from Douglas Edwards on how these decisions were made. Innovation covered every aspect of Google. For example, unlike most start up internet companies, they did not go for state of the art hardware. Instead they put together a huge number of the cheapest servers they could cobble together and did not worry when some of them failed as there was always redundant capacity. They relied on viral marketing rather than a huge ad campaign which was very innovative as most internet startups at that time spent fortunes on advertising. To begin with they had no idea how they were going to make money, but had supreme confidence that money would follow success.

I think this is an interesting read for anyone but it certainly helps to put what is being discussed in perspective and to appreciate the depth of the innovation if you have a smattering of knowledge about the main business drivers for Google which are principally technology and marketing. Basically the company started off with a neat idea to rank search results more logically than anyone else was doing and then exploited the difference superbly. This should be required reading on any business management course - it demonstrates that an entrepreneur should not be afraid of turning perceived wisdom on its head and trying something different.

Apart from being an interesting read, you do learn a lot about what makes Google tick and come to appreciate not only that it is different, but why and how it is different. What a pity Mr Edwards left in 2005. Google have not stood still since then and it would be fascinating to get the inside track on what has happened subsequently.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 November 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you were entranced watching the stratospheric rise of Google from fringe search engine to one of the largest economies on Earth, you'll enjoy many happy hours immersed in the pages of I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59. If you appreciate Google's dogged insistence on creating a search engine that actually works as users want it to (rather than simply looking flashy), this book will resonate with you. If you consider the term 'computer nerd' a compliment rather than a put-down, you'll find nirvana in the pages of this book.

Douglas Edwards's descriptions of Google's key players, especially co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, give unique insights into the people behind one of the the world's biggest brand names. Brin and Page always had a clear vision of what they wanted Google to achieve. The most readable parts of the book are its humanising portraits of the men behind the brand name. For example, one Hallowe'en Sergey Brin conducted an interview wearing a full cow suit. As a nervous young prospective Google employee stuttered and stammered his way through the interview, Brin sat back on his chair and played with his rubber udders. Many such entertaining stories are peppered throughout the book, making it a must-have item for any Google aficionados. By reducing the amount of technical data included (about server sizes, speeds, etc.), Douglas Edwards could have increased the book's readability while cutting down its length, thereby helping his book to appeal to a wider market. As it stands, the lengthy tome is for hardcore Googlophiles only.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wasn't expecting much from this book, fearing something tedious and overly-technical, dry and dull, but instead I found it was hugely enjoyable, fascinating, and extremely easy to read.

Doug Edwards was Google's 59th employee, joining the company in its infancy when the staff worked in one tiny building, made their own servers out of cork boards with components pinned to them (so they could fit four servers into the space normally occupied by one "proper" server in a rack cabinet) and focused entirely on making searching the internet faster, easier, and better. Doug sees the company grow and evolve, and he finds himself burning the midnight oil, often undermined by his managers, and eventually decides that the time is right to leave (the book ends in 2005.) There is also a fair amount of coverage of Google's battles with the likes of Inktomi, Yahoo and Microsoft, all of which is interesting, sometimes a little shocking.

Some have complained that the book has lots of padding but I didn't think this was the case at all. I actually found it quite riveting, often quite amusing, and surprisingly free of technical jargon, although the glossary of terms at the back is handy if you want to know the difference between a Noogler and a Xoogler for instance. Don't expect to find out the secrets of how Google's software works or what their corporate strategy is, or their future plans. Instead this book is a hugely enjoyable and very human tale of what it is like to work for a high-tech company that grew from nothing extremely quickly, and how they changed the world in their own way.

Quite possibly my favourite book of 2011 so far. I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 23 November 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this book tedious and a little bit dull.

As interesting as the story of Google is, this account doesn't hold my interest. In fact my interest started to wane when I got a few pages in. The authors accounts and exaggerated or should I say enthusiastic descriptions all start to sound the same and get a tad boring. It's interesting enough if you're die hard about this stuff but for me, an I imagine most people, it's just a bit tedious.

But I guess as one other reviewer wrote, if someone wrote an account of AlstaVista, it wouldn't be as interesting, or at least relevant, to most people. Google is Google, everyone has heard of them but not many people will care about the detailed accounts this book goes into.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The thing that comes across quite clearly in his book is that Page and Brin's vision. They never doubted the eventual dominance of their search algorithm.
The had logic, were focused, very driven, and "They believed in their ideas so strongly, in part because they were such good ideas,"
Number 59 employee goes on, "I'd identify Larry as the visionary; he was always thinking: where will this be 20 years down the road?"
It is NOT a "confession" book. There is clearly nothing within the book that Edwards or indeed Google wouldn't want you to know.
He mentions Google's weaker moments - Google's failure to see the significance of social networks, "Larry is not a guy you can imagine sitting around in the evening updating his Facebook status, so he just didn't see that."
There are better books about Google The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media and Technology Success of Our Time but overall this was OK and not over technical.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 September 2014
This book is the first book I have read about the early years of Google and as expected from a company that has done so much in so little time, it is a truly interesting read. Google's impossible growth from obscurity to one of the largest companies ever created was never going to be dull and this book which chronicles its early years certainly proves that.

One of the things that Google is famous for is the way it treats its staff and its approach to its work. The Google offices have been infamous for years about their wacky ways, the playful environment and basically Google's approach of supplying a fantastic place to work for some of the best minds in the world. As such there are plenty of suitable anecdotes about the lighter side of Google to break up the breakneck forward momentum of their business development.

These small and humourous interludes nicely broke up the purely technical and business aspect of the book which made it much easier to read. This was especially helpful as in another aspect of the writing this author falls short. The narrative of the story works on a very broken timeline, often telling one story that stretches over a number of years and then with the next part of the book jumping back right to the beginning again or some other seemingly random point in time.

However, other than the broken timeline I think that in the whole this is a well told and well written book with one very noticeable exception... it centres around the wrong person.

Douglas Edwards was the head of branding in his time at Google which leads you to believe that he was responsible for the most recognisable brand in the world. What this book actually shows though is a list of failures of a person who was apparently out of his depth at Google. I am sure that this probably wasn't the case but you wouldn't know it by the content of this book. He was on the wrong side of almost every great idea that was launched in his time at Google and the few times that he ever did get his way often turned out to be some of Google's biggest mistakes.

This lead me to constantly wish that the narrator would switch to someone more important, more exciting and definitely more responsible for the overall growth of Google. In effect, the only accomplishments of this author was that he named Google Adwords and he was responsible for the playful tone of Google's voice in the early years (something which has changed as far as I can tell since his departure to no apparent detriment to the giant brand).

Therefore this entire book felt as though it was written by someone pretty far down the hierarchy of power in Google and definitely outside of the inner circle that would give us true insight into Google's early years.

However, whilst frustrating as this may be it was still an enjoyable story that was reasonably well told. Overall this was an enjoyable book that I would happily recommend but I am almost sure that there must be quite a number of better books out there on this subject.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Google, like Apple, was once an unimpeachable 'good guy' of the modern world, in contrast with tarnished war mongering states and greedy corporations. However, as Google (and Apple) have become the big boys in the tech playground and with that their image in popular culture has been changing - either because the companies themselves have changed or because their success and prominence has put them under closer public scrutiny.

Douglas Edwards' book does little to debunk the cool, smoothy supping image of the earlier Google but it does show how the gathering and monetisation of user data, which is the heart of Google's core business model and also the thing that it getting it into hot water because of the inherent affect of privacy, was recognised and thought about by Google employees from fairly early on. However, this book paints a picture of a company that is basically still one of the good guys.

This might be because Google is not yet able to rest on it's laurels. It dominates 'search' but Google's expansion from services into a more Apple like end-to-end user experience has been a mixed success, with Android gaining most of the smartphone world in terms of market share but with built-for-OSX Apple handsets commanding a massive price premium. Chrome machines, meant to revolutionise personal and business computing by making cloud computing the norm, are conspicuous in the absence from coffee shop table tops and successive Google branded, but still third party manufactured, handsets have not exactly set the world on fire.

The most interesting confessional book on Google has yet to be written, and perhaps never will; if and when Google gains market predominance in the way that Microsoft once dominated the personal computer market, that book will be about how and why it goes over to the Dark Side.
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very well written account of the life of one of Google's early employees while he worked for Google. The fact that the book is written by a brand manager and not by a geek, makes it even more worthwhile, because this is a very accessible book which does not talk about great technologies in terms of technical stuff, but rather in terms of the business and marketing point of view. And by the way I am myself "techie" but I always wondered about the business-side of Google and how those geeks pulled-it through in the world of business. This book explains a lot and also gives an insight into the lives and minds of the people and technologies that put Google on the road to success that it now is.

But even better is the fact that this book focuses on achievements and how they were achieved while talking about "numbers" in a way that makes thinking about them a bit superficial, something you won't expect from business managers (even if they are brand mangers). This shows the power of the Google culture and the reasons why the employees have been so much enthusiastic and motivated, however, there is a great emphasis put on explaining the goals like getting Google into stock market and so on, still the narrative on "We don't do this. This is Evil" is amazing.

The book is generally a good read and leaves you with a sense of satisfaction that now you know so much about Google from an "insider. The only gripe could be that the editing is done in a way that has left less room for post-2002 events in Google's timeline, and a bit more elaboration on pre-2002 era. But this does not leave any bad impact, just the feeling that another chapter or two could have explained things better, as so many great things were happening. The impact of Google as a brand on the other companies and what Google thought about that is hardly touched upon but maybe this was not the intention anyway.

Overall a very nice effort, and full marks for the "lucky one" on writing a great book. Thumbs up!
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VINE VOICEon 30 August 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a memoir of the author's time as the marketing lead for Google between 1999 and 2005. I was looking forward to reading this book. Whilst I'm certainly no computer geek and wouldn't understand programming any more than I would understand a page of ancient Sanskrit, personal computers have paid such a huge part in so many lives over the past decade or so and Google has played a major role in that story. Besides, you don't need to know how a watch mechanism works in order to tell the time.

I thought it was well worth reading although it is a little dry in parts. Whilst steering clear of personalising a number issues too much, it certainly gives you a flavour of some of the colourful and eccentric characters that put so much into the early growth of the company. To be certain, a number of them read like people who should have gotten out more - but if they had they wouldn't be who they were and doubtless wouldn't have achieved so much.

Although Google saw itself as very much at the vanguard of the alternative business culture the internet boom helped spawn, in my view, one of the things that strike one most from reading this account is how quickly - despite all the hype to the contrary - the company developed a very corporate culture, despite the alternative trappings of what people wore to work and what the workspace looked like. Indeed, Google obviously became not just corporate but "uber"-corporate with all the usual office politics driving and/or impairing its internal culture, just the same as any corporation.

All in all, an interesting read which reminds us of the good old days of Google when its internal staff motto of "Don't be evil" still seemed to mean something. The story ends in April 2005 when Douglas Edwards left the company and therefore, reasonably, need not be drawn into some of the controversies surrounding the company in subsequent years. It's by no means a definitive history of Google - if such a thing could be written, or be allowed to be written by those who would control approval of such an account - but is worthy enough as one person's close-up view of how it achieved so much so quickly.
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
`This is no ordinary company,' asserts the author in the opening introduction to this tale of doing things differently, growing and making a change the `google way'. Well written and entertaining throughout, I'm Feeling Lucky left me thinking I'd learnt a lot about life inside the world's largest search engine and what differentiates it from the competition. The book also successfully looks at the personal side of the author finding his role within the organisation, building and defining this role and finally the demise of his position.

There was a definite threat at points in this book that the author could be using the publication to complain about his previous employer or as a CV for a potential future job. The writer however successfully steers clear of these pitfalls to keep the book upbeat, entertaining and thoughtful throughout without leaving out to much detail. The published edition of the book will be neatly rounded off with an index, glossary of difficult and `google' words although there was a sense that some commentary on the company's actions after departure from the company would be appreciated, especially regarding the recent privacy issues given that personal data is a theme, especially in the latter half of the book.

As a whole, this book is interesting for anyone who works with or has a curiosity relating to technology, advertising, marketing or just google as a company. Even for the novice reader the attention given to doing things differently could be applied elsewhere helping to make this more than just an average biography of another nobody.
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