In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives

Hardback

By (author) Steven Levy

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  • Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: Hardback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 165mm x 239mm x 43mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 4 December 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1416596585
  • ISBN 13: 9781416596585
  • Sales rank: 33,032

Product description

It is best known for its search engine, but as Steven Levy explains, Google's ambitions go far beyond internet searching. It has moved into mobile phones, computer operating systems, television, and is the most powerful company in the advertising business. Its advertising business produces revenues so substantial that the company has no difficulty funding all its other projects. The company has an unusual corporate culture, which Levy describes. The founders are often seen on Rollerblades, there are exercise breaks for employees and certain foods are either free or minimally priced. There is simultaneously an atmosphere of seriousness and playfulness. What role this corporate culture plays in the company's success is one question that In the Plex will address. For example, every Googler has 20% time -- employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time on projects of their own devising. No manager can prevent this. Some successful corporate businesses have come from 20% time. Levy provides the background on Google's decision to enter the Chinese market, a decision that was controversial within the company at the time and which has recently made news as Google threatens to withdraw from China. He explains how "cloud computing" is the next frontier for Google, and he takes the reader into product development, including products that should be reaching market around the time the book is published. He explains what Google is doing to counter the rise of social networks such as Facebook (Google has its own social network), real-time competitors such as Twitter, and the looming risk of government regulation because of its dominance of the internet.

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Review quote

"Dense, driven examination of the pioneering search engine that changed the face of the Internet. Thoroughly versed in technology reporting, Wired senior writer Levy deliberates at great length about online behemoth Google and creatively documents the company's genesis from a 'feisty start-up to a market-dominating giant.' The author capably describes Google's founders, Stanford grads Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as sharp, user-focused and steadfastly intent on 'organizing all the world's information.' Levy traces how Google's intricately developed, intrepid beginnings and gradual ascent over a competitive marketplace birthed an advertising-fueled 'money machine' (especially following its IPO in 2004), and he follows the expansion and operation of the company's liberal work campus ('Googleplex') and its distinctively selective hiring process (Page still signs off on every new hire). The author was afforded an opportunity to observe the company's operations, development, culture and advertising model from within the infrastructure for two years with full managerial cooperation. From there, he performed hundreds of interviews with past and current employees and discovered the type of 'creative disorganization' that can either make or break a business. Though clearly in awe of Google's crowning significance, Levy evenhandedly notes the company's more glaring deficiencies, like the 2004 cyber-attack that forced the removal of the search engine from mainland China, a decision vehemently unsupported by co-founder Brin. Though the author offers plenty of well-known information, it's his catbird-seat vantage point that really gets to the good stuff. Outstanding reportage delivered in the upbeat, informative fashion for which Levy is well known." --"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)