Growing Up Google

Two young geniuses found a company. They build the greatest search engine ever. But they are greedy and petulant. They believe themselves infallible and unstoppable. Now they are under assault. Is it time to bid Google goodbye?

Issue: Sept-Oct 2011

Douglas Edwards, I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), 432 pp., $27.00.

[amazon 0547416997 full]IN DECEMBER 2001, an upstart Silicon Valley company named Google posted its corporate philosophy, in the form of a list of “Ten Things We’ve Found to be True,” on its website. At once charmingly idealistic and off-puttingly smug, the list set the tone for Google’s future public pronouncements. “You can be serious without a suit,” read one of the tenets. “You can make money without doing evil,” read another. But it was the most innocuous sounding of the ten principles—“It’s best to do one thing really, really well”—that would prove to be most fateful for the company. No sooner had it pledged to remain a specialist than it began to break its promise by branching into new markets, with far-reaching consequences not only for its own business but also for the Internet as a whole.

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