Sunday, August 14, 2011

A glimpse inside Google: Are you feeling lucky?

Are you feeling lucky? Doug Edwards is. As Google employee #59 he's probably a multi-millionaire right now. Have you read his book yet?

"I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59" by Douglas Edwards

I have, and it was fascinating. Not the most important book you'll ever read, but great to get a glimpse inside Google in the early years (it has been 6 years since he worked there). And because Doug was a marketing guy, you get to see Google as an outsider would see it the whole time he was there--because he never really seemed to "get" the engineering culture at Google.

A couple things from the book caught my eye as I read it. Edwards recounts coming into the office sometimes only to find that a decision he was involved in had already been made. (Paraphrasing) "We tried to get your opinion but we couldn't reach you. At 2 am. So we moved on without your input." Things move fast in a Silicon Valley start-up. And it is still that way sometimes.

Edwards also recounts meeting with Larry Page to tell Larry that he (Larry) had been right, a gesture of reconciliation. After all, Larry had been wrong on occasion, too. He expected Larry to say something like, "that's okay, we all make mistakes" or something similar. Instead, Larry said, ""When were we ever wrong?" Not in a mean or condescending way. But in an genuinely curious way. If he HAD been wrong, he needed to know about it.

Here is an excerpt of the book, as published in the Wall Street Journal:
"The Beginning - An insider recounts the early days: the bizarre job interview, April Fools' pranks that enraged users, roller hockey, platters of sushi—and the uneasy leap to the mainstream." by Douglas Edwards

For more views inside Google, check out his blog, too. There are some old videos posted there that are fascinating.