In the Plex

In the Plex

How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2011.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hbk. ed.
ISBN: 9781416596585
1416596585
Characteristics: v, 424 p. ; 24 cm.

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WVMLStaffPicks Aug 29, 2014

I have sometimes wondered; who are the engineers behind the simple, but extraordinarily powerful Google search box, Gmail, Google Earth and YouTube? And furthermore, how exactly did Google’s technologies and engineers affect massive, almost global change in such a short time? Wired Magazine columnist Stephen Levy was embedded at the Googleplex for three years where he observed and interviewed many key players. He answers both my questions and, as a bonus, shares amusing anecdotes and insights about Google’s workplace culture.

b
baylife
Jul 26, 2011

Fascinating history of Google and its creators. Have a much greater understanding of search engines and Silicon Valley ethos etc.

debwalker May 26, 2011

Levy was given full access to the company for two years and interviewed hundreds of current and former employees. Scary.

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