GOOGLE today is one of the world's most recognised brands. The search engine changed the way we look for information on the web. And it took the company less than a decade to reach such heights.
'The Google Story' written by David A. Vise with Mark Malseed is an exciting account of this truly remarkable company. Google single-handedly transformed the face of Internet with its state-of-art search technology.
Reading through the pages of the book is like witnessing the phenomenal rise of a search engine giant. David Vise has put in enough reasearch into the subject and it shows in the final product.
Google was born in the computer science labs of Stanford University. Sergey Brin and Larry Page were graduate students when they first met in the spring of 1995. They struck a chord instantly.
In 1997 the duo alongwith Rajeev Motwani, a Stanford professor, developed a prototype of a search engine for the university use. It was the first time that the PageRank system (developed by Larry) was used in conjunction with the conventional search engine technology. Initially named 'BackRub' it was later rechristened 'Google' (through a spelling mistake).
As the internal project got bigger it needed more money and resources. That's when Brin and Page started approaching firms, but met with disappointments. AltaVista had apprehensions about relying on outsiders. Yahoo wanted people to spend more time on its website, something not possible with the fast and accurate results that Google promised. Ironic indeed that Yahoo's co founder David Filo advised them to start their own business.
It was late 1998 when they met their angel in Andy Bechtolsheism, a computer whiz and investor in successful start-ups. He loved the idea and readily parted with a USD 100,000 cheque. Thus Google was formed! The same year Google made it to the PC Magazine's list of Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines.
The next big moment for the company came in 1999 when Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital invested USD 25 million in Google Inc.
Inspite of so much cash coming in from outside, the duo managed to hold on to their control in the company. They were always the technologists first and the businessmen second. It reflects in the Google tag line "Don't be evil."
Brin and Page always did things differently. So when it came to the revenue model they came up with a bright new advertising model. It involved text based targeted ads that showed as search results.
In 2000 the firm partenered with Yahoo and provided the site with Google-generated search results. It was a giant leap. By 2001 'googling' entered the American lexicon as a verb. Eric Schmidt also joined Google as Chairman (and later became the CEO) in 2001. The next year was the most exciting one for the company as it closed deals with AOL, Earthlink and Ask Jeeves. It became a force to reckon with.
Gmail came out in 2004 and courted considerable controversy because of privacy fears. The company also went public that very year.
Google works unlike any technology company in the business. The Google workplace is more relaxed and informal. The company has even allocated 20 per cent of the total time software engineers spent in the company for their own projects. It is this 20 per cent rule that saw engineers like Krishna Bharat, from India, come up with innovations like the Google News in 2002.
The Google Story is written in a way that it highlights both the history and the principles of the company.
Google is a young company with mostly young people (including the founders) working for it. This has been a big contributing factor in its phenomenal rise. David Vise has successfully captured this element in his account.
The author, like million others, seems to share a soft corner for the company. Still the book is a worthy account of the search engine giant.
A must read for anybody who has ever laid hands on computers.