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pages: 299 words: 91,839

What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis


23andMe, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Anne Wojcicki, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, cashless society, citizen journalism, clean water, commoditize, connected car, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, don't be evil, fear of failure, Firefox, future of journalism, Google Earth, Googley, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, old-boy network, PageRank, peer-to-peer lending, post scarcity, prediction markets, pre–internet, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, web of trust, Y Combinator, Zipcar

It is possible to get survival rates for hospitals performing certain procedures (though sadly, keeping these scores sometimes disincentivizes institutions from taking hard cases). Patients rate doctors—like teachers and plumbers—at various online services, but they’re not terribly helpful because I don’t know anything about the people leaving comments. I’d at least like to get a list of all the conditions a doctor treats and how often so I can pick the most experienced specialist. If a Googley restaurant would tell me how many diners ordered the crab cakes, a Googley doctor should tell me how often she has treated afib. I would also be impressed if the doctor treating me had written about the condition online. I’d be doubly impressed if I saw other doctors linking to her. The changes in medicine we’ve touched on all relate to information: opening it up, sharing it, organizing it, analyzing it, bringing the network effect to the industry and our health.

The most important benefit The Times received by opening up: Googlejuice. Everybody needs Googlejuice Googlejuice? That’s the magic elixir you drink when Google values you more because the world values you more. It’s another virtuous circle: The more links, clicks, and mentions you get, the higher you rise in Google’s search results, offering you the potential for yet more clicks. The rich get richer, the Googley Googlier. I wonder whether, someday, companies will come to be valued not only on their revenue, marketshare, EBITDA, and profit but also on their Googlejuice. The benefits of Googlejuice are lost on companies that do not make their information searchable—from local businesses that don’t have sites to stores that don’t post sales to manufacturers that don’t publish product details to magazines that put content online in overcomplicated designs and databases that Google can’t read.

Now I ask Google a question, any question, and it brags that it has given me the answer in fractions of a second. I wanted to tell you just how fast that is compared to, say, the blink of an eye. So what did I do? Of course, I asked Google how fast an eye blinks and in .3 seconds it told me that a blink takes .3 seconds. One of Google’s own principles—the “10 things Google has found to be true”—is: “Fast is better than slow.” A pillar of its design principles—from Google’s list of what makes a design Googley—is: “Every millisecond counts…. Speed is a boon to users. It is also a competitive advantage that Google doesn’t sacrifice without good reason.” Speed is a tenet of the Google religion. Google has made us an impatient people, more than we know. If we can get any of the world’s knowledge in a blink, why should we wait on hold or in line or until your office opens? Why should anyone give us incomplete information when completeness is a search away?

pages: 666 words: 181,495

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy


23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, one-China policy, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, selection bias, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, turn-by-turn navigation, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

“Make sure it looks like a dorm room.” As Salah learned more about the company and began furnishing the buildings that Google would later populate, he roughed out a set of design guidelines that expressed what he saw as Larry and Sergey’s values. The list centered on several “key performance principles.” The very first one: “Create a ‘Googley’ atmosphere.” Being truly Google goes beyond painting the walls with bright colors and liberally distributing lava lamps. A Googley space is one that reflects—and supports—our employees. We are a diverse team of committed, talented, smart, thoughtful hard-working individuals. Our core values should be manifested in our work environment. It didn’t take long for Google to begin growing out of Bayshore—the head count was doubling in size every few months as deals brought in new traffic, and the success of ads required a whole infrastructure of billing and business operations.

The company was also developing a product called Google Gears that would let people keep working on their documents while offline, but the program lacked the bedrock reliability that would be required. When Schillace went to Google in 2006, he had to struggle to get resources in the data center. “They had this crazy hand-cobbled system where there was one guy in the middle doing the planning—it was, like, put a bottle of vodka on his desk, and you’d get your machines for the service.” That un-Googley system was replaced by something very Googley—an auction-based allocation. Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian, would later explain how it worked when new data centers open: “We’ll build a nice new data center and say, ‘Hey, Google Docs, would you move your machines over here?’ And they say, ‘Sure, next month.’ Because nobody wants to go through the disruption of shifting. So I suggested we run an auction similar to what airlines do when they oversell a plane—they keep offering bigger vouchers until enough customers are willing to give up their seats.

The eighteen APMs on the trip worked all over Google: in search, advertising, applications, and even stealth projects such as Google’s attempt to capture the rights to include magazines in its index. Mayer’s team, along with the APMs themselves, had designed the agenda of the trip. Every activity had an underlying purpose to increase the participants’ understanding of a technology or business issue, or make them more (in the parlance of the company) “Googley.” In Tokyo, for instance, they engaged in a scavenger hunt in the city’s legendary Akihabara electronics district. Teams of APMs were each given $50 to buy the weirdest gadgets they could find. Ducking into backstreets with stalls full of electronic parts and gizmos, they wound up with a cornucopia: USB-powered ashtrays shaped like football helmets that suck up smoke; a plate-sized disk that simulated the phases of the moon; a breathalyzer you could install in your car; and a stubby wand that, when waved back and forth, spelled out words in LED lights.

pages: 496 words: 154,363

I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards


Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, barriers to entry, book scanning, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, business intelligence, call centre, commoditize, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Googley, gravity well, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job-hopping, John Markoff, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, microcredit, music of the spheres, Network effects, P = NP, PageRank, performance metric,, Ralph Nader, risk tolerance, second-price auction, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, stem cell, Superbowl ad, Y2K

There were plenty of occasions when the center did not hold; when we did something I considered tone-deaf or Marissa considered insufficiently Googley. Google was an engineering company. When we did not agree, we usually did what engineering thought best. One upshot of the bicycle debacle (as I came to think of the Chad contretemps) was that Marissa explicitly agreed that the text on the site was my province, even as she rejected, rewrote, or edited the "final" copy I passed along to be posted. We butted heads frequently over the months and years to come. Sometimes I won and sometimes I lost, but the arguments were always elucidating. And when Marissa and I agreed on the best way to approach a topic or about principles that should not be violated, I felt assured we had captured some essential element of what it meant to be Googley. Shortly after 9/11, Larry granted Marissa's request to join the product management (PM) team.

Since interviews stretched into daylong affairs, it was important to give applicants enough nutrition to sustain them. We could easily spot the aspirants—they'd be sitting out on the deck sweating in navy blue suits while all around them Googlers in shorts and sandals chatted and chewed. Any Googler who happened to be within earshot could pepper candidates with questions, and the answers could influence a hiring decision as much as anything in the formal interview process. Giving off a "Googley" vibe mattered. I never knew whom I might bump into while waiting for a fresh platter of polenta to be put out. At first, celebrity drop-ins tended to be tech luminaries like pundit Esther Dyson, Sun superstar Kim Polese, or the chairman of Intel, but as Google's fame grew, you were just as likely to run into Nobel laureates and internationally known politicians, people like Muhammad Yunus, Queen Noor, Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Carter, pushing trays along the aluminum rails under Charlie's watchful eye as the Grateful Dead wailed from wall-mounted speakers.

The lesson of the data center applied to the kitchen as well: cheap production units pushed to their limits offered superior performance. Individual servers, whether of web pages or of steamed broccoli, might give out, but the system wasn't truly broken as long as it kept delivering results. To their undying credit, Charlie, Jim, and the rest of the Google kitchen crew never experienced a catastrophic failure. Day after day after day, they fed us—their infrastructure running on elbow grease, ingenuity, and heart. It was a very Googley way to be. Chapter 8 Cheap Bastards Who Can't Take a Joke HOW MANY GOOGLERS does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Sergey asked the UI team in late February 2000. His complaint was about browser buttons—a trivial bit of code that allowed users to add Google search links to their web-surfing software. We were debating names and design details by email, and the list of people involved had grown to ten, including Urs and Cindy.

pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr


Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

At another point he nixes a potential Google print ad because it includes pictures of what he terms “unattractive people.” He explains: “Our ads should always be aesthetically pleasing so people will think happy thoughts when they think of Google.” Page is rarely so callous, but like his friend he seems blind to shades of gray, particularly when looking at his own company. Even his vocabulary is black and white. What’s good is “Googley.” What’s bad is “Not Googley.” Any outsider who dares to question Google’s motives or criticize its actions is a “bastard.” The word “evil” is tossed around carelessly. Such a blinkered and self-serving view of the world may be forgivable in a young entrepreneur trying to get an ambitious technology company off the ground, but as Google has grown and its influence expanded, its hubris has become a problem. It accounts for many of the missteps that have stained the company’s reputation in recent years.

The way he responds to the antitrust investigations, to the company’s aggressive new rivals, and to persistent public concerns about online privacy and security will determine whether Google flourishes or flounders in the years ahead. His success will likely hinge on his ability to get beyond a black-and-white, us-versus-them view of the challenges facing his company, to realize that even bastards may have a point. He’ll have to become a little less Googley and a little more worldly. That won’t be easy. Edwards begins his book with an anecdote about a meeting he had with Page back in 2002. Bruised by the founder’s tendency to dismiss or ignore his suggestions, the marketer arrives at Page’s office looking to ingratiate himself with his prickly boss. “I know I haven’t always agreed with the direction you and Sergey have set for us,” he says. “But I’ve been thinking about it and I just want to tell you that, in looking back, I realize that more often than not you’ve been right about things.”

pages: 275 words: 84,418

Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein


Apple II, cloud computing, commoditize, disintermediation, don't be evil, Dynabook, Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, Googley, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, web application, zero-sum game

But after the euphoria of the acquisition wore off, it became clear that even at Google getting Android off the ground was going to be one of the hardest things Rubin had undertaken in his life. Just navigating Google itself was initially a challenge for Rubin and his team. There was no hard-and-fast org chart, as in other companies. Every employee seemed right out of college. And the Google culture, with its famous “Don’t be evil” and “That’s not Googley” sanctimony, seemed weird for someone such as Rubin, who had already been in the workplace twenty years. He couldn’t even drive his car to work because it was too fancy for the Google parking lot. Google was by then filled with millionaires who had gotten rich on the 2004 IPO. But in an effort to preserve Google’s brand as a revolutionary company with a revolutionary product—the anti-Microsoft—all cars fancier than a 3 Series BMW were banned.

Before Google went public—and became subject to SEC rules—Schmidt, Brin, and Page even shared details about Google’s revenues and profits in companywide meetings in front of more than a thousand employees. Rubin respected Google’s unique approach. But he also understood that if other companies knew what he was working on, they might beat him to the marketplace. “There were plenty of pissed-off Googlers who said we’re not Googley because we’re not sharing,” a former top Android engineer told me. “We had to turn down some very senior people who wanted to see our source code, and Andy had to be the bad guy. So there was a lot of tension.” Rubin wasn’t just driven by his need to make sure Android moved fast. He knew that producing software for smartphones was vastly different from producing software for the web, which was Google’s primary business.

pages: 284 words: 92,688

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons


activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate governance, dumpster diving, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, Googley, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, pre–internet, quantitative easing, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, telemarketer, tulip mania, Y Combinator, éminence grise

I’ll be more likely to have some influence than I would at some huge corporation with thousands of employees. Also, I like Halligan. He seems smart. I want to work with him. HubSpot also potentially represents more upside, financially. The big company in Silicon Valley is already big. The people who got rich there were the ones who joined fifteen years ago. HubSpot is just starting out. If HubSpot goes public, and if its stock really takes off—if HubSpot becomes the next Microsoft, or Google—I might make some serious money, something I’ve managed to avoid doing over the course of my career as a journalist. “Basically I’m making a bet,” I say to Sasha, after we’ve put the kids to bed and we’re talking about which job I should take. “The only way the HubSpot job is worth taking is if they’re going to go public and have a big IPO.” The deal at a start-up is that you get a lower salary, but you also get a pile of options, which vest over four years.

Re/code, a tech blog, claims other companies have done the same, including Lyft, a rival to Uber; Swipe, a photo-sharing app; and Basis, which makes a “health watch” that tracks people’s heart rates, sleep patterns, and other personal information. In the early days at Facebook, the young employees had a master password to gain access to anyone’s account, according to a book by a former Facebook employee. Dirty tricks have become par for the course at these places. In 2011 Facebook was caught running a sneaky smear campaign, hiring a PR firm to spread negative stories about Google—I know because I’m the reporter who caught them and broke the story for Newsweek. Facebook’s entire business model is based on mining personal data in order to deliver targeted advertising. The same goes for Google and countless other online companies. We have no idea who has access to what. We also have no choice but to go along. None of us is going to opt out of using the Internet. Nor can we expect that the companies will do any better when it comes to oversight.

pages: 525 words: 142,027

CIOs at Work by Ed Yourdon


8-hour work day, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, distributed generation, Donald Knuth, Flash crash, Googley, Grace Hopper, Infrastructure as a Service, Innovator's Dilemma, inventory management, Julian Assange, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Nicholas Carr, rolodex, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, software as a service, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the new new thing, the scientific method, WikiLeaks, Y2K, Zipcar

I was really interested in the engineering and computer science parts of IT. I thought of myself as someone who was the gearhead in the back, who was the person trying to bring engineering and computer science and so on into industry and that I thought I’d always probably be, as I was at Morgan Stanley in my last role, a direct report to the CIO but with more of a technical focus to my job. But it was the way that the CIO role was constructed at Google—I thought, well, that’s a CIO job I might actually like, I might actually be qualified for. My observation was, and maybe it’s a bit cynical, was that most CIOs carry a heavy burden because they’re typically one of, if not the largest cost centers in their organization. Because so much of their jobs is operations, operationally oriented and execution-oriented. It’s this combination of things: you always have to be super, super good at kind of understanding the financial picture of IT because it’s such a big expense.

Yourdon: The reason I ask that question is that the traditional picture of the CIO is that it’s the end of the line, and a lot of the people I’ve interviewed are in their fifties or sixties. In fact, I interviewed one CIO who had just resigned—in fact, I take it back, there were three. One man was in his eighties—it’s understandable that he said, “I don’t want to be a CIO anymore.” But, particularly in the technology companies, you, the CIO of Google—I guess he’s in his thirties, but a lot are young people who have risen relatively quickly and they’re in an industry that’s moving quickly, and so they’ve got still 20 or 30 years ahead of them. And as several CIOs have told me, they never planned for this job, and they’re not going to plan for the next job. Opportunities present themselves, and when the right opportunity comes along, they’ll— Gupta: Jump and decide what to do then.

pages: 222 words: 53,317

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman


3D printing, algorithmic trading, Anton Chekhov, Apple II, Benoit Mandelbrot, citation needed, combinatorial explosion, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, digital map, discovery of the americas,, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, HyperCard, Inbox Zero, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, Parkinson's law, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, software studies, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Therac-25, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

building a self-driving vehicle: The complexity of building self-driving cars was discussed by Google[x]’s “Captain of Moonshots” in his closing keynote address at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) 2015: Astro Teller, “How to Make Moonshots,” Backchannel, March 17, 2015, the exceptions that nonetheless have to be dealt with: One solution is to use humans to manually troubleshoot, or at least hard-code, the exceptions. For example, here’s how Google does this for Maps: “This is a Google-y approach to the problem of ultra-reliability. Many of Google’s famously computation driven projects—like the creation of Google Maps—employed literally thousands of people to supervise and correct the automatic systems. It is one of Google’s open secrets that they deploy human intelligence as a catalyst. Instead of programming in that last little bit of reliability, the final 1 or 0.1 or 0.01 percent, they can deploy a bit of cheap human brainpower.

pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison


23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, East Village,, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

In a June 2010 interview, Brin told Wired magazine’s Thomas Goetz, “Generally the pace of medical research is glacial compared to what I’m used to in the Internet. We could be looking lots of places and collecting lots of information. And if we see a pattern, that could lead somewhere.”72 Goetz therefore correctly observed, “Brin is proposing to bypass centuries of scientific epistemology in favor of a more Googley kind of science. He wants to collect data first, then hypothesize, and then find the patterns that lead to answers.”73 Clearly, engineers are getting their hands wet in the biology area, and this has even forced some mavens to rethink how they talk about the subject. Mike Kope, the CEO of Aubrey de Grey’s SENS Foundation, says that the organization’s message is now quite simple: “repair the damage, don’t chase the pathology.” 74 And although science has made excellent progress when it comes to understanding body parts like the kidney and heart, the brain remains too complicated to fully comprehend.

pages: 465 words: 109,653

Free Ride by Robert Levine


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Anne Wojcicki, book scanning, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Firefox, future of journalism, Googley, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, Julian Assange,, Kevin Kelly, linear programming, Marc Andreessen, moral panic, offshore financial centre,, publish or perish, race to the bottom, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, subscription business, Telecommunications Act of 1996, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Before Google bought YouTube, its competing Google Video service took some basic steps to screen out copyrighted content, and some executives there believed it didn’t draw as many viewers because YouTube’s tolerance for copyright infringement gave it an edge, according to an internal presentation Viacom quoted in its court documents.56 In June 2006 one Google executive suggested that Google Video could “threaten a change in copyright policy” and “use threat to get deal sign-up,” but another wondered if this tactic was “Googley”—representative of the company’s values.57 It’s hard to know what some of the other executives thought: Hurley lost his e-mail from that time (this happened before Google purchased YouTube), Eric Schmidt testified that he deletes his unless specifically asked to do otherwise, and Google’s cofounder Larry Page, who became the company’s chief executive in April 2011, said in a deposition that he couldn’t remember whether or not he favored buying YouTube—a $1.6 billion acquisition that was the largest in the company’s history.58 “I don’t remember being upset about it,” he said, “so my guess is I was more positive than negative.”59 In March 2010, documents unsealed by the court revealed that Viacom employees had posted clips of the company’s shows on YouTube, and that the conglomerate had explored buying the video site in the summer of 2006.

pages: 349 words: 95,972

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford


affirmative action, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, assortative mating, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Basel III, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Erdős number, experimental subject, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Frank Gehry, game design, global supply chain, Googley, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, Inbox Zero, income inequality, industrial cluster, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, microbiome, out of africa, Paul Erdős, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Turing test, urban decay, William Langewiesche

Then there was the time that one Google engineer decided he didn’t like the wall of his office. When Google’s facilities manager came in the next morning, he was surprised to discover that the engineer and his colleagues had knocked it down. But he didn’t complain. Neither did he complain when the engineer later changed his mind and decided he’d like to put the wall back again; instead, he mused that the process had “made it a more Googley environment.” Any veteran of MIT’s Building 20 would recognize the thought process. And when the suit-and-tie executive Eric Schmidt joined Google as the new boss in 2001, he reassured Salah, “Don’t change a thing. Make sure it looks like a dorm room.”26 “No matter what happened,” writes Steven Levy, “engineers would have the run of the place.”27 • • • The offices at Chiat/Day may have looked superficially different from the offices at Kyocera, but they were managed with fundamentally the same tidy-minded aesthetic: This place should look the way the boss wants it to look.

pages: 372 words: 89,876

The Connected Company by Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal


A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson,, factory automation, Googley, index card, industrial cluster, interchangeable parts, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, loose coupling, market design, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, profit maximization, Richard Florida, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, Vanguard fund, web application, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

Not long after Google took it over, it had more than nine hundred people in one building alone. Eventually there would be about 2,500 in those four large buildings. “We want to pack those buildings, not just because it minimizes our footprint but because of the interactions you get, just accidental stuff you overhear,” says Salah. “Walking around, you feel good about being here. And that’s what’s Googley. An SGI employee from the 1990s would not recognize those offices today. The GooglePlex, as they call it, is designed like a mixed-use urban space. Googlers eat for free from a selection of cafeterias, managed by top chefs, which offer more options than most city streets. A snack or drink is always just around the corner, and comfy chairs, tables, and common meeting spaces abound. Bicycles and scooters are handy for travel between buildings.

pages: 468 words: 233,091

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston


8-hour work day, affirmative action, AltaVista, Apple II, Brewster Kahle, business process, Byte Shop, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, fear of failure, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, game design, Googley, HyperCard, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos,, Larry Wall, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, nuclear winter, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, software patent, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, web application, Y Combinator

It can be a little bit tricky, because it’s a lot of data if you actually do the math: you have millions of users and they all have a lot of data, and then, to make the system really reliable, you need to keep several copies of the data, backups and everything like that. It requires a lot of research. It’s a lot of machines and a lot of systems to make that all work without requiring an army of people to maintain the system and keep it running. There’s a very complicated system problem there. We were also doing a lot of things that were new to Google. And I guess this is one difference between a regular startup and starting within Google—I think it’s a little bit different now, but at that time there was still this vision that, “We only do web search.” Now we do lots of neat products that go beyond that, but at the time, a lot of people inside the company were sort of unsure. The idea of doing this product that was receiving all the email—and we had to store the email, which is a different systems problem, really, from web search, because 164 Founders at Work in web search you go out and you crawl the web and index that data and the latencies are different.