The story behind a success always makes for good reading. And, if such a story is presented like a drama, interspersed with audacious ambition, envy, struggle for control, rivalry, lawsuits, accusations, counter-accusations, and some humour, it would most likely make for some very engrossing reading. To top it all, this is not a work of fiction – in fact, it is not even a dramatization of reality. It is a chronicle of events that happened behind the scenes of what in the words of the author is the ‘hottest business, media and technology success of our time’.
The book starts with describing a scene in 2003, where the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, address a high school in Israel. They explain how Google was born.
Page and Brin were PhD students at Stanford University. The idea of Google was born when Page conceived of downloading the entire web on to his computer to try and devise a search program for it. It was an audacious idea. While he had planned to finish the exercise in a week, he could manage only a portion of it even after a year. “So, optimism is important,” Page told his audience, “One must have a healthy disregard for the impossible.”
It was this optimism that helped Page persist with his plan. He kept downloading the web on to his machine, and Brin helped him mine the data and make sense of it. According to the duo, it took a lot of effort, a lot of night-outs, and a lot of working through holidays.
After this brief prelude-like beginning, the story goes back to the beginning – when Page met Brin.
Page and google Brin were both PhD students at Stanford, and they had a lot in common. They were both from families which placed great value on scholarship and academic excellence. They both had fathers who were professors, and mothers whose jobs revolved around computers and technology. Computers, mathematics, and intellectual debates and discussions were part of their genetic codes as well as their day-to-day lives. It was only natural, then, that they got along with each other quite well, and started working together.
They also had an environment that was very conducive to innovation, experimentation and ideation. Stanford is known for churning out several successful technology ventures, including HP and Sun (Sun stands for Stanford University Network). People in Stanford are firm in their belief that sometimes, making a business out of a technological innovation delivers a much greater effect than writing a paper on it.