From Barnes & Noble
When Google was launched in 1998, it was regarded as a late starter in the search engine game. Since then, it has not only eclipsed rivals Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, and others; it has redefined the Internet and the marketplace. In less than seven years, the company that opened with three employees launched the largest technology IPO in Silicon Valley history. The Search, penned by Wired co-founder John Battelle, promises to be the definitive inside story of Google's rise.
Wired cofounder and Industry Standard founder Battelle has written a history of the search engine giant Google that attempts to place the phenomenon of Internet searching within the broader context of society and culture. If the "Database of Intentions" sounds like a kind of high-tech holy grail, you're getting warm. This is Battelle's terminology for the totality of Internet searching that reveals to us as a culture (not to mention to marketers) who we are and how we think and feel. The tale of Google's humble beginnings in a Stanford dorm room and eventual domination of the search landscape is an interesting enough story in itself. But it becomes fascinating against the backdrop of geeky entrepreneurs and their fledgling companies waging battles of ideas and ideals. Along the way, Battelle skillfully examines ethical and political issues of search-personal privacy being a big one. The implications of search as a cultural marker and what its future might hold make this a thought-provoking work with relevance beyond business and technology. Recommended for public and academic library business collections.-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
In The Search, journalist and Wired co-founder John Battelle explains more than the inside story of Google’s triumph over its rivals. Battelle takes a big-picture look at the past, present and future of search technology and the enormous impact it is starting to have on marketing, media, pop culture, job hunting, international law, civil liberties, and just about every other sphere of human interest.
Battelle’s information is drawn from interviews with more than 350 people, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; key executives at rivals such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AOL; early pioneers; scientists working on the future of search; venture capitalists; and even entrepreneurs whose fortunes rise and fall with every tweak in the Google search algorithm.
Battelle notes that by the fall of 2001, the Internet industry was in full retreat. Hundreds of once promising startups lay smoldering in bankruptcy. Could the Internet story ever pick itself up off the ground?
Back in April 2001, Eric Schmidt, a founder of Sun Microsystems, had left his job running Novell, the perpetually struggling networking giant, and accepted the chairman and CEO role over at Google. The industry was baffled by the move, Battelle says, but Schmidt was onto something big. Google, it seemed, was thriving.
The first edition of Google Zeitgeist was a clever public relations tool that summarized search terms that were gaining or losing momentum during a particular period of time, Battelle explains. By watching and counting search terms, Zeitgeist provided a fascinating summary of what our culture is looking for or finds interesting, and conversely, what was once popular that is losing cultural momentum.
In essence, Google and its competitors created the first application to leverage what Battelle calls the "Database of Intentions" in a commercial manner: paid search. In less than five years, the business grew from next to nothing to more than $4 billion in revenue and is predicted to quadruple in another five years.
As the search economy deepens and proliferates, there will be countless innovations built upon the basic breakthrough of the paid search model. As Battelle looks into the history of search engines, he reminds us that there were other search engines that had their timing been better or their owners wiser, could have been Google instead.
The reason Google was able to emerge ahead of Lycos, Alta Vista, GoTo, and Yahoo!, Battelle explains, was because they focused on doing search well and not becoming a portal. The Internet bust actually helped them focus on what became one of the best business models on the planet.
Despite Google doing a number of things wrong on the way to its initial public offering (IPO), it turned out to be quite successful, Battelle explains. In 2004, Google had $3 billion in the bank and a market cap pushing $50 billion. Clearly the company needed a plan. While traditional companies - some might call them mature - have well understood corporate development plans, Google was still flying by the seat of its pants.
Google faces perhaps its most tremendous test in the next few years, Battelle predicts. And he asks, "Can it continue to innovate in the face of treacherous competition? Can it keep its most productive employees despite their personal wealth? Can it learn to partner with outside companies who find Google’s loose approach to business confusing and dangerous?"
In seven short years of corporate life, Google has become a canvas on which we project every application or service that we can imagine might arise in our increasingly digital future, Battelle observes.
"Nothing beguiles like the promise of unlimited potential. For now, anyway, Google holds that promise." Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
What People Are Saying
From the Publisher
“John Battelle is Silicon Valley’s Bob Woodward. One of the founders of Wired magazine, he has hung around Google for so long that he has come to be as close as any outsider can to actually being an insider….The result is a highly readable account of Google’s astonishing rise.” —The Economist
“It’s a fascinating story, and Mr. Battelle… tells it well.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A surprisingly gripping story…The Search yields impressive results, pairing a reportorial eye for detail with an evangelical zeal to help readers understand the import of the search revolution.” —Wired News
“Battelle…manages to keep things compelling, adding his own trenchant analysis about what Google’s rapid evolution and powerful technology might mean for the company and our society as whole.” —The Associated Press
“A compelling glimpse of the search industry’s early years.” —BusinessWeek
“Deeply researched and nimbly reported.” —Publishers Weekly
“Indispensable.” —London Review of Books
"Battelle has written a brilliant business book, but he's also done something more... All searchers should read it." —Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute
"This book ought to be called 'The Answer.' As usual, John Battelle delivers insightful, thought-provoking, and essential reading." —Seth Godin, author of All Marketers Are Liars and Purple Cow
"Nobody, and I mean nobody, has thought longer, harder, or smarter about Google and the search business than John Battelle." —John Heilemann, author of Pride Before the Fall
"A must read for anyone endeavoring to understand one of the most important trends of this generation." —Mary Meeker, Managing Director, Internet Analyst, Morgan Stanley
"Battelle has... figured out why "search" is so damned important to the future of everything digital. Even more impressive, he's actually managed to turn the subject into a compelling analog story. —John Huey, editorial director, Time inc.
"A terrific book." —L. Gordon Crovitz, Dow Jones