The Google Story (Book Review)

During the electronic revolution, Google sprang about as the most indispensable search engine almost overnight. If there is anybody on the face of this planet who hasn’t heard of Google, I think he must be a relic from the Stone Age.

The book, The Google Story, is about the birth and the coming of age of this marvel of a company. Its founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, met in Stanford in 1995. Despite the earlier differences between them, they connected well because they shared a vision and a bright but goofy character. Sergey, the math whiz and a first-generation Russian- American, is the son of Michael Brin, a math teacher in the University of Maryland, and Eugenia Brin, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Larry’s father, Carl Victor Page, was a computer engineer and he introduced his children to the world of computers early on. Although Larry’s mother was Jewish, Larry knew more about computers than Judaism.

During 1996, Larry and Sergey teamed up to analyze Web links as research toward a PH. D. thesis. Since this work took longer than anticipated, Larry came up with the theory of counting the number of links to a website could be a way of ranking that website’s popularity. Later on, they applied the Page Rank to the Internet. By early 1997, a primitive search engine called BackRub was developed. During the autumn of 1997, BackRub earned a new name, Google, derived from the googol a mathematical term, which means a number equal to 1 followed by 100 zeros and is expressed as 10 to the 100th power.

After its initial beginnings, the development of Google as a company reminds me of any small cottage industry that can abruptly grow in leaps and bounds to take over its industry sector. If Thomas Edison is called the genius of Menlo Park, Sergey and Larry, too, may be called genius-wizards of Menlo Park, because like Edison, they rented a large house in Menlo Park from where to continue the expansion of their company. Menlo Park became the nest from which Google the research project became

One bright idea that led Google to its present day success was the idealism of its founders. During the heyday of the dot com companies, Sergey and Larry preferred to keep the company private as long as they possibly could because they wanted to build the best search engine; the money they could gain by making the company public was not so important.

Still, the company needed cash to expand, especially after moving to the new company headquarters in Palo Alto, and on June 1999, Sergey Brin and Larry Page announced that two venture capital companies, Kleiner Perkins and Sequioa Capital, had agreed to invest $25 million dollars in Google with their managers Doerr and Moritz joining Google’s board of directors. With this announcement, the Google revolution started taking roots.

Not all went without a glitch. For example, in 2004, there was the legal action against a UK company, imitating Google but with a sexual content. Then, when Google finally went public, it attracted a trademark lawsuit from Geico.

As such, the authors go on to tell many stories about the company and even its chef who prepares the food for the staff.

At the end of the book, Brin suggests improving the brain by plugging a version of Google into it. That will certainly be the next wonderful surprise Google can grant its users.

The Google Story is in hardcover with 326 pages. In the front of the book, a contents page showing its 26 chapters is followed by an Introduction, and at the end of the book, are the appendices such as Google Search Tips, Google Labs Aptitude Test, and Google’s Financial Scorecard, plus A Note on Sources, Acknowledgments, Photo Credits and Index. A few black and white photos in the middle of the book add to its enjoyment as well as the variety of anecdotes inside it. This book is also available as an abridged audio CD, an abridged downloadable audiobook, and a trade paperback.

The writers of the book David A. Vise and Mark Malseed are reporters. David A.Vise, a Washington Post reporter, has won the Pulitzer Prize and is the author of three books, one a bestseller “The Bureau and the Mole.” Mark Malseed is a contributing reporter to the Boston Herald and the Washington Post and has done some valuable research for two of Bob Woodard’s books.

For me, this was an enjoyable read with one tale after another. Although the information in it has been in the news media before, seeing it in one piece was a treat.

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