In The Plex : How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
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.
- Hardback | 432 pages
- 165.1 x 238.76 x 43.18mm | 589.67g
- 04 Dec 2011
- SIMON & SCHUSTER
- New York, United States
"Steven Levy's new account [of Google], In the Plex, is the most authoritative to date and in many ways the most entertaining." -James Gleick, The New York Review of Books "The most comprehensive, intelligent and readable analysis of Google to date. Levy is particularly good on how those behind Google think and work. . . . What's more, his lucid introductions to Google's core technologies - the search engine and the company's data centres - are written in non-geek English and are rich with anecdotes and analysis. . . . In The Plex teems with original insight into Google's most controversial affairs." -Andrew Keen, New Scientist "The wizards of Silicon Valley often hype their hardware/software breakthroughs as 'magical' for the products' ability to pull off dazzling stunts in the blink of an eye. And true to the magicians' code, these tech talents rarely let mere mortals peer behind the curtains. . . . That's what makes Levy's just-out tome so valuable." -Jonathan Takiff, The Philadelphia Daily News "[Steven Levy] spent much of the past three years playing anthropologist at one of the Internet's most interesting villages and set of inhabitants -- the Googleplex and the tribue of Googlers who inhabit it. . . . A deep dive into Google's culture, history and technology." --Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News "An instructive primer on how the minds behind the world's most influential internet company function." -Richard Waters, The Wall Street Journal "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) "The rise of Google is an engrossing story, and nobody's ever related it in such depth." -Hiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe "Almost nothing can stop a remarkable idea executed well at the right time, as Steven Levy's brisk-but-detailed history of Google, In the Plex, convincingly proves. . . . makes obsolete previous books on the company." -Jack Shafer, The San Francisco Chronicle "Levy is America's premier technology journalist. . . . He has produced the most interesting book ever written about Google. He makes the biggest intellectual challenges of computer science seem endlessly fun and fascinating. . . . We can expect many more books about Google. But few will deliver the lively, idea-based journalism of In the Plex." -Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Washington Post
About Steven Levy
Steven Levy is a senior writer at Wired, and was formerly senior editor and chief technology correspondent for Newsweek. He is the author of several books, including Hackers, Insanely Great, and The Perfect Thing. A native of Philadelphia, Levy lives in New York City with his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Teresa Carpenter, and their son. Visit him at StevenLevy.com.