The Swiss Army knife that adorns the cover of The Google Way is a perfect metaphor for what the company has become. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google in 1998, and it quickly won the “search engine wars” that were raging at the time. The Google Way traces the unorthodox, and often genius decisions the pair made to grow their company in the following years. The quote from Vice President of Search Products and User Experience (what a title!) Marissa Mayer says it all, “I think Google should be like a Swiss Army knife: clean, simple, the tool you want to take everywhere.”
To that end, Google’s products now include nearly every application the average ‘Net user needs. There is Gmail (e-mail), Google Docs (word processing), Google Chrome (web browser) and Google News, among many others. The goal is to “own” the Internet, by providing every service a person needs – under one umbrella.
Author Bernard Girard has broken The Google Way down into four sections. “Part One: An Unorthodox Corporate Saga” traces the beginnings of the company. “Part Two: A Formula 1 Engine” is the heart of the book. This section details the many brilliant, and often unusual choices the corporation has made over the years — which have directly contributed to its phenomenal growth.
“Part Three: Put Users First; the Rest Will Follow” discusses Google’s emphasis on making their users onsite experience being as painless as possible. The concluding “Part Four: Challenges And Risks” focuses on the future. Chapters such as “Is Google’s Growth Sustainable,” and “Can Google Evade Conformity?” pose questions that are vital to the corporation’s ongoing success.
The author is obviously a fan of Google, as his affirmative answers to both of those queries clearly indicates. He makes well-reasoned arguments for his position however, and they are hard to argue with. The Google Way is extremely well researched and could even work as a textbook for an enlightened business course. It is also quite entertaining, as Girard’s writing style is engaging and witty. For those interested in business and management techniques, or a very readable story about a company that touches (one way or another), nearly everyone who uses the Internet — this book is recommended.