Googled: The End of the World as We Know It

Digital Book Club

By Ken Aueleta (Virgin Books, 2010)

February 2010

Googled%20book.jpgDanny Meadows-Klue digs into the latest analysis of Google and finds a must-read for everyone in the industry.

The internet made everything available, Google made anything findable. Google has changed our worlds and our lives in a way unparalleled by any other brand. It’s become synonymous with the web and its name a verb for searching. Every industry sector has been touched by it and its presence extends into every country at every level. Whether you’re a marketer by trade, or a newcomer finding that the web has landed in your job goals for the first time, it’s hard to imagine discovery in search engines not being high on the agenda. As search engine marketing has grown to become the critical link in connecting customers with companies, interest in search marketing has crossed from the geeky world of search engine optimisation and mainstreamed.

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That’s why ‘Googled’ is such a fascinating and essential read, and has such incredibly broad appeal. It’s a biography of the brand from its birth as one of founder Larry Page’s computer science projects, through the early days in a garage running from any server space that could be found, into its adolescence where pizza delivery vans and new hardware suppliers fought for carparking space.

Ken Auletta had unprecedented access to the founders and the campus. He followed the rise of the world’s most successful dotcom pureplay from deep inside the brand and paints the most vivid picture of the vision and philosophies of ‘Larry&Sergei’ from classroom to boardroom. For digital specialists it’s the most gripping of thrillers with a high-octane plot of digital product development that peals back the layers of the web, creating a paradigm for navigating our knowledge. For business analysts it’s the story of staying true to a vision and investing ceaselessly in a digital product with only the best of the best people. For the marketer it gives a sense of the nature of game-changing disruptive behaviours, and reiterates both why the industry continues to change so rapidly, and why the marketing mix has to fight to keep up.

Auletta’s pedigree as a leading US business journalist records this through the dispassionate lens of true investigative journalism. He was on the campus for solid weeks more than a dozen times, interviewing 150 people and probing the founders many many times over. He took part in the Friday company briefings, the meetings with outsiders and reports the conflicting abrasion and evangelism of those conversations. Googled is a genuine fly on the wall report which adeptly captures the spirit of being inside Google; the culture, the beliefs, the DNA and the difference from the other heavyweight dotcoms it displaced.

In dissecting the language and confrontations with traditional media groups, Auletta adeptly describes the nature of a disruptive business. With so many media groups trying to size up their new competitor, Googled is rich in insights about the way the company behaves and thinks. Through this he offers brilliant insights about why Google is so different and why its business model is so threatening.

Today Google has expanded far beyond those origins in search. Its margins on pay per click advertising revenues fuelled expansion into the full range of portal services, desktop software, mobile and advertising platforms. With 200 factors currently driving the rankings of firms in Google’s algorithmic listings, product development in the core business has continued to be strong. The focus on visual and audio search, translation, and the connections with location underscore the continued development, and what this book succeeds in achieving is giving a clear lens through which to judge what happens next.

For a company this game-changing, and insights this deep, Googled is a must-read

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