Most books you read about Google leave you with the stereotypical feeling that the founders are just ‘Quirky Geeks’, while Ken Auletta’s Googled: The End of the World As We Know It, goes deeper into the corporate culture, motives and make-up of the company and it’s unique founders.
Believe me, after reading you will still think these guys are one-of-a-kind, but if you’re like me, you may also feel that Larry and Sergey are a once-in-a-generation duo that are reshaping our entire online experience, and world. Are they the visionary sages launching us into the 21st century? Or naive, glorified-nerds that stumbled into a clever algorithm that they leveraged, with the help of astronomical solar alignments, bass-akwards into a mountainous pile of success? Success that has fed their hubris, and will be quickly relocated as their ideological luck runs thin or the technological ground shifts under their feet, as it has for AOL, Yahoo! and other has-beens? (phew! deep breath) Ken addressed these questions. Giving ammo for both arguments, but making no direct assertion of his own.
I happen to think they are brilliant-but susceptible to the vices of large corporations, such as immobility, lacking focus and a deaf ear to consumer fears. When hard times hit Google, they do not seem to have the corporate culture that can withstand the cutbacks and hard decisions required to keep their investors happy.
Also, the book candidly looks at the impact that Google has and is having on the world around us. Ken’s most direct focus is placed on the ‘we-must-change-or-die’ worlds of newspapers and media. He captures views from all sides, some calling Google a villain, while others saying they are just riding the inevitable wave of progress. At times, Google seems to have a foot in both camps. Meanwhile, their public awkwardness is both endearing and emblematic of their engineering DNA and feeling of superiority- ofttimes, they just don’t care what you and I think about them. However, their overall body of work suggests a tendency for doing the right thing for the right reasons. With many quotes from some of my favorite internet voices, such as Jeff Jarvis (TWIG: This Week In Google), Matt Cutts (Google Spam Team) and Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land), the book brings in different views that highlight the multitude of feelings about this online juggernaut.
Overall, I highly recommend the book to anyone in the online community. You are sure to finish with a different, or more thorough understanding of what makes Google tick and why they are such an interesting company. Two, very enthusiastic thumbs up!