Google shows you how possible it is to take an idea and then make it into a meteoric rise to a very successful company. Larry Page and Sergey Brin took Page’s idea of downloading the entire web onto his computer turned it on its head and within a few years they were making pots of money. They made a negative amount in the first two years but when they finally started charging people for their work in year three they made $US7 million. What started off as a research programme became Google.com.
I had no idea when I got my first computer and then subsequently got myself online by myself in January 1999 that Google was so new, they launched in September 1998. To me they were the only search engine worth using, I toyed with some of the others but they didn’t return good results, Google did. People were able to find what they were searching for and not something entirely different.
Most people take their funding money and spend it on marketing but Page and Brin did something totally different. They spent their money on getting the basics right, they didn’t even spend money on their home page instead having something totally basic and uncluttered, something which has become a hallmark of Google. Google sell advertising but there is none on their home page. Their funding money was spent on computers, lots of them and making certain they worked together and worked right, making certain the software was right and then finally hiring people but they’ve spent nothing on marketing…ever, or at least not at the time of writing this book in 2005.
Apart from having a great idea that actually works, Page and Brin found their guiding angel in the form of John Doerr, not only did he help fund them and find more funding for them but he also insisted they employ someone who knew about business. Doerr sent people to Page and Brin asking they be interviewed and they were all sent packing…except for Eric Schmidt, he became their Chief Executive Officer and kept them on the straight and wide when it came to the business. Brin and Page had many ideas, they wanted full control of those ideas but they needed someone to complete the triangle and keep them on a sound business footing. Schmidt was that man.
Brin, Page and Schmidt steered Google through to being a multi-million dollar company. Even when they had to float on the Stock Exchange they managed to keep control, they have always done things in their way, a way that is not necessarily what everyone else does. Let’s take their recruitment procedures as an example. At the back of the book is Appendix II, the GLAT or Google Labs Aptitude Test, two questions are:
1. Solve this cryptic equation, realizing of course that values for M and E could be interchanged. No leading zeroes are allowed.
WWWDOT – GOOGLE – DOTCOM
9. This space left intentionally blank. Please fill it with something that improves upon emptiness.
Ok, so there’s a maths question and a question that could be anything and is up to the user to decide. Only a little different. Then there’s how they treat their staff, they employ a full time chef who creates fabulous, healthy dishes for everyone in the building, this is supplied free of charge, as are the Segways to get around and so many other perks of the job. When you start working there you’re divided up into groups of three to work together and while you’re supposed to do the work assigned to you you’re also meant to spend 20% of your time working on your own projects, once they’re developed enough you get to present them and if they’re deemed appropriate assigned as a project for the company.
I loved this book as I love most business books written about a particular company or a particular segment of business, I think it could be used in class to help figure out how to get a company to go from Go to Woah, Big Business! It was competently written but not brilliantly, although it is easy to read.