eReader: In The Plex

Jun 07, 2011

June 2011 Issue

Securing the Cloud cover

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
Steven Levy
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, Ebook
$26, $12.99

Veteran technology reporter Steven Levy was granted unprecedented access to Google, and in this book he takes readers inside Google headquarters-the Googleplex-to show how Google works.

While they were still students at Stanford University, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized internet search. They followed this brilliant innovation with another, as two of Google's earliest employees found a way to do what no one else had: make billions of dollars from internet advertising. With this cash cow, Google was able to expand dramatically and take on other transformative projects.

The key to Google's success in all these businesses, Levy reveals, is its engineering mindset and adoption of such internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. Even today, with a work force of more than 23,000, Page signs off on every hire.

But has Google lost its innovative edge? It stumbled badly in China and now with its newest initiative, social networking, Google is chasing a successful competitor for the first time. Can the company that famously decided not to be evil still compete?