I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 Hardcover – Jul 12 2011
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"[A] highly entertaining new memoir...I’m Feeling Lucky is at its best, and most hilarious, in its account of the company’s earliest days."
-Boston Globe "Affectionate, compulsively readable. . . . This lively, thoughtful business memoir is more entertaining than it really has any right to be, and should be required reading for startup aficionados."
—Publishers Weekly "Although there have been many journalistic examinations of the world’s most valuable Internet brand, this is the first to capture the process and the feeling of what it was like to be there in the early days."
-Booklist "[Edwards's] perspective as an early employee is valuable and unique...the former 'voice of Google' provides a detailed, quirky and expansive half-memoir/half-historical record."
"I’m Feeling Lucky is funny, revealing, and instructive, with an insider’s perspective I hadn’t seen anywhere before. I thought I had followed the Google story closely, but I realized how much I’d missed after reading—and enjoying—this book."
—James Fallows, author of Postcards from Tomorrow Square "Douglas Edwards is indeed lucky, sort of an accidental millionaire, a reluctant bystander in a sea of computer geniuses who changed the world. This is a rare look at what happened inside the building of the most important company of our time."
—Seth Godin, author of Linchpin "This is the first Google book told from the inside out. The teller is an ex-employee who joined Google early and who treats readers to vivid inside stories of what life was like before Google became a verb. Douglas Edwards recounts Google's stumble and rise with verve and humor and a generosity of spirit. He kept me turning the pages of this engrossing tale."
—Ken Auletta, author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
About the Author
DOUG EDWARDSwas the director of consumer marketing and brand management at Google from 1999 to 2005 and was responsible for setting the tone and direction of the company's communications with its users. Prior to joining Google, Edwards was the online brand group manager for the San Jose Mercury News , where he conceived and led development of the technology news site siliconvalley.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author was Google's 59th hire, hence the title of the book and joined the company in 1999. He was employed to head up marketing rather than being a techie in a very tech led company. This book covers his experiences between 1999 and 2005 and is a fascinating insight into how the company was run and what made it different. Google had a very flat management structure so everyone got involved in all aspects of the organisation and you get the inside track from Douglas Edwards on how these decisions were made. Innovation covered every aspect of Google. For example, unlike most start up internet companies, they did not go for state of the art hardware. Instead they put together a huge number of the cheapest servers they could cobble together and did not worry when some of them failed as there was always redundant capacity.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was pleasantly surprised then to see it as a refreshingly unique and non-techie/non-geeky take on Google by a marketing guy who hit upon his motherlode with what was then yet another tech startup from the valley. Douglas Edwards, a marketing guy from the Valley who gets into Google without knowing much about the technology or where it would take him, makes an interesting person's eyes to view Google from.
There is some amount of technology covered here but more of the Dummies style where the author assumes the reader knows nothing. There is also a fish out of water element pervasive throughout the book that is alternatively funny and overdone. The other fun part about the book is the plethora of anecdotes from Google's early days from an insider. Some of these nuggets give a human tone to the massive entity that is Google. Some of the otherwise unknown and background characters from the early days of Google get their share of their limelight here. As someone who has read every decent book on Google out there, I came to know of quite a few such early day champions from Google.
Geeks might not find a whole lot of new stuff here but I liked the book for what it tries to be- an non-engineering insiders view of Google. Its fun and worth a read.
This book is a not an account of how the founders grew the company, nor is it an expose on Google business secrets. Rather, it is more of the story of how the writer went from a job in journalism in the Silicon Valley to working for what would become a major player in the Silicon Valley.
Through 400 pages, the book describes this journey in not unpleasant detail. Along the way, I learned that a lot of the supposed beliefs about Google were probably more the product of misinformation then malignant intent (such as the "Do No Evil" meme), and that Google operated like many technical companies in that the supposed well considered plans were often the product of haphazard planning and organization.
This is certainly not a bad book by any stretch, and some parts are compelling and interesting. However, those parts aren't coincident with the whole of the book. I found myself as a casual observer of Google often thinking that there was more that could be told. I think this book doesn't know what to be exactly. It isn't a technical primer, nor is it really a memoir as much as it is a pastiche of pieces written about an organization that grew exponentially in a way that the author, and probably the founders, never anticipated.
A good, but not great read. For a casual observer, there aren't really great moments of insight here, and for the technical geek, your definitely looking in the wrong place. Decent reading, but to my mind, no more. Worth the effort, but not a great read in the end.
2) The book is pseudo chronological. As you finish one part that strolls along for a set period of time, you may have to regain your temporal bearings when he starts the next part chronologically *before* the last part ended. It doesn't detract from the story telling, but it's something to watch for. It's kind of like when people didn't have automatic panorama cameras and instead would take several shots along the horizon... then try to physically piece all the prints together with varying degrees of overlap. The overall picture is still fantastic, so don't let this bother you too much.
3) Marissa Mayer. He really, really seems to dislike her. I'm surprised I haven't seen more about this in the reviews so far. The first thing he says about Marissa in the book and the last thing are both framed positively. But in between she is the one topic he comes back to over and over throughout the book; with a lot more bad than good. He describes how she tried to use all sorts of manipulative and deceptive tactics to outmaneuver him, keep him out of key meetings, directly block his access to the founders and possibly lie about what they were saying, belittle his role in the company, go over and around him at every possible opportunity... and even that her relationship with Larry Page was strategically leveraged against him. Without ever actually putting it bluntly he also said that Marissa did more harm than good in just about everything she worked on. Every time he and Marissa disagreed it turned out he was right... this all according to Doug. He handled the topic of Marissa Mayer in what felt like such a casual, although repeatedly occurring, manner that as I was reading I wondered if he was even conscious of what he was doing or whether we are witnessing the work of a literary mastermind getting his ultimate revenge.
The author was Google's 59th hire, hence the title of the book and joined the company in 1999. He was employed to head up marketing rather than being a techie in a very tech led company. This book covers his experiences between 1999 and 2005 and is a fascinating insight into how the company was run and what made it different. Google had a very flat management structure so everyone got involved in all aspects of the organisation and you get the inside track from Douglas Edwards on how these decisions were made. Innovation covered every aspect of Google. For example, unlike most start up internet companies, they did not go for state of the art hardware. Instead they put together a huge number of the cheapest servers they could cobble together and did not worry when some of them failed as there was always redundant capacity. They relied on viral marketing rather than a huge ad campaign which was very innovative as most internet startups at that time spent fortunes on advertising. To begin with they had no idea how they were going to make money, but had supreme confidence that money would follow success.
I think this is an interesting read for anyone but it certainly helps to put what is being discussed in perspective and to appreciate the depth of the innovation if you have a smattering of knowledge about the main business drivers for Google which are principally technology and marketing. Basically the company started off with a neat idea to rank search results more logically than anyone else was doing and then exploited the difference superbly. This should be required reading on any business management course - it demonstrates that an entrepreneur should not be afraid of turning perceived wisdom on its head and trying something different.
Apart from being an interesting read, you do learn a lot about what makes Google tick and come to appreciate not only that it is different, but why and how it is different. What a pity Mr Edwards left in 2005. Google have not stood still since then and it would be fascinating to get the inside track on what
Doug Edwards gives a thorough overview of what it was like in the early days of Google, his acclimation and assimilation into all things "Googley," giving witness and words to Google's rise, covering epic events in our lives, and sharing funny asides that make the book worth every minute.
I enjoyed the personal accounts of the April Fools pages(and only confirming in my mind that some people just lack a sense of humor), 9-11, a conversation with the Church of Scientology, and interactions and business models between Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft.
It's a must read for anyone who loves technology, business and anti-culture. The ending is fitting and hopefully by now, Doug Edwards has caught up on some sleep.
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