Secrets Of The World’s Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin And Larry Page

The technology world is littered with success stories that came from humble beginnings, Bill Gates & Paul Allen who formed Microsoft, not to built Operating Systems, but a simplistic programming language called BASIC. Or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who toiled in a garage tinkering with building a simplistic home computer that grew into Apple. The 21st Century has brought yet another duo to the forefront Sergey Brin and Larry Page, their contribution to high tech is Google.

No company is more synonymous with the Internet and success than this Mountain View, California based organization. Google is a household name, if you use the Internet, I can pretty much guarantee that you have used Google to search out some information. Yet the company itself is a rather mysterious, little is known about the inner workings, or the two Stanford friends Sergey Brin and Larry Page who founded this 800lb Internet gorilla in their dorm room.

Author Janet Lowe has produced a great book and one that any internet user will want to read. I can also say with some certainty that no matter how much you think you may know about Google and its history you will learn something new.

here is one little factoid that I picked up. If you have a web site you will almost certainly be familiar with the term Page Rank (PR), this is essentially a rating that Google applies which represents the importance and trustworthiness of a web page. This idea of applying PR to a web page was one of Larry’s ideas, and it was he who developed the algorithm, the name itself Page Rank refers to Larry not Web Page. Now isn’t that a delightful factoid you can pull out to impress your friends?

Janet Lowe has used a great deal of information she received from Google employees howver this is not an ‘Official’ history which has permitted her to stray into some areas that I am sure Sergey and Larry would not have sanctioned in a million years. The Yahoo, Microsoft, Google battle of last year is a great example. Also there are some interesting comments by ex employees about the corporate culture that run contrary to the public image portrayed by the company.

Google has always maintained a very low profile about its computer network, however there are a few facts that are known, rather than populate their data centers with large servers they prefer to use many regular PC’s that are interconnected. How many PC’s is not clear, but estimates start at one million! A quote from Larry Page claims..

We have enough space to store like 100 copies of the whole Web

Janet Lowe also broaches the thorny issue of privacy and computing in the cloud. The corporate motto is “Don’t be evil” certainly gets called into question with privacy concerns. I for one am a big fan of the ‘cloud’. I do most thing on it. I tend to flit from computer to computer and the cloud permits me access to my email, my contacts, my documents, my calendar from wherever I happen to be. But, when I access many of these services I also receive targeted text ad’s. This means that my private data is being analyzed in order to serve those ad’s. Is this important? To me maybe not, I doubt that anything I have would be of much interest to many people. If I was a corporation though, I am not sure that I would feel comfortable having my corporate and sensitive data in this position.

Google has not been without controversy, their plan to scan the worlds books for example created a furor with segments of the publishing industry, there are elements of the media world that are less than happy with Google News, and the segments of the entertainment industry have some major problems with YouTube. There is opposition to Google Street View, and Google Earth. And even opposition to Google Images. Though not mentioned in the book, the opposition to Google Images is an interesting one, and I will add it just for completeness. The pornography industry has blossomed in the Internet, and it is that industry that is complaining that their (for fee) images are being made available for free!

As author Janet Lowe points out, Google has been, and continues to be, a magnet for litigation. Many of the law suits being settled out of court. Another interesting observation she makes is that there is little that Google invents from scratch, preferring instead to gobble up smaller companies and perfect their existing products. Google Earth came from Keyhole, Google Docs from Writely, and the list goes on.

Google is 10 years old, and for most of those 10 years has maintained a solid front of ‘Our business is search’ We want to catalog the worlds data’. But is that really what they want? Search is an important aspect of Google, it is a core element, but it is not the only core element. Adwords and Adsense are the money makers, without them Google likely would still be operating with two employees rather than 20,000.

For an entertaining and informative book I strongly recommend this one. You can order your copy of Google Speaks from Amazon.

Simon

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