Apple may have used “Think Different” as a logo for its marketing, but the founders of Google use it as their motto for life and business.Reading “In The Plex,” a book about Google by Steven Levy, we were struck by the numerous weird decisions and ideas from the search company’s founders. Some of them are well documented, but we were repeatedly surprised as we flipped through the book.
We’ve gathered a few of our favourite nuggets from the book and put them here.
When Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley was at Google he sent emails warning that Twitter was going to be a big deal, but he says 'It all fell on deaf ears...they just weren't interested in social at the time.' Now Google is rumoured to have considered buying Twitter for a whopping $10 billion.
Robin Li started out at IDD Information Services, a division of Dow Jones. He discovered you could use hyperlinks as a way to rank information on the web around the same time as Google. He told his boss at Dow Jones about it, but they didn't really care since they weren't an internet company.
Robin Li quit Dow Jones, and eventually launched Baidu, the search giant that crushed Google in China.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin demoed their product for Andy Bechtolsheim. He took a brief look at it, and decided to give them a $100,000 check on the spot. They didn't even have a bank account yet. He told them to deposit the check when they did. To celebrate they went to Burger King.
Here's a juicy nugget buried in 'In The Plex'. A 'key team member' says Google +1, its social effort, is 'not Google at its best,' and it is 'reactive.'
One third of all search queries are first time searches, meaning it's the first time that combination of words has ever been used.
Of all the CEOs Google interviewed, Eric Schmidt was the only one that had been to burning man, which was a major plus.
When Google was rolling out its ad system, it had to develop a payment infrastructure to accept money for ads. Not all countries take credit cards, so Larry Page suggested Google could take the local currency. In Uzbekistan, for instance, he suggested taking goats as a payment.
Terry Semel laughed at Sergey and Larry when they told him Yahoo's acquisition of Overture meant war
Larry and Sergey stormed in to Yahoo after it bought Overture, and told Terry Semel it mean the companies were at war. Semel just responded by saying, 'Are you going to bomb us?'
Right when Google was figuring out how to make money on search, it had an opportunity to land a partnership with AOL. It would serve search results and ads for AOL. But, AOL wanted $50 million guaranteed from Google. It only had $10 million in the bank at the time. If it couldn't deliver the results, the company would be bankrupted.
Google took a chance, and it paid off. It beat out Overture to win the AOL deal, and as soon as it started serving up search results for AOL it became a profit machine.
Kim Malone had to endure a 25 interview process before she was hired by Google. And she had the 'perfect Google resume' for a non-engineer according to Sheryl Sandberg.
Google would routinely do 20 interviews before hiring someone, even though it knew the usefulness of the interviews fell off after 4. Nowadays there are fewer interviews and it takes 45-60 days to go from interview to hired.
Levick also says, 'Google has never sponsored a golf event and never will.' It used to bum out Google ad sales people when they'd hear about some awesome Yahoo golf outing with ad agencies.
Ad boss Tim Armstrong would try to cheer his troops up by saying, 'They have to take people on golf outings because they have nothing else.'
Maybe Google's ad sales people should have been happy to have any job. Larry Page once asked, 'Why do we need this team?' when in a meeting about Google's salesforce.
Some Googlers decided to make a zip line to connect its new building with the main HQ. The city of Mountain View shut it down, says Levy.
Google gives employees a lot of swag -- t-shirts, sweatshirts, and even a backpack filled with supplies in case of an earthquake
When the Google founders were interviewing 35-year old Stacy Sullivan for the top HR position they asked her what she got on her SATs. She wasn't the only one. R.J. Pittman, 39 at the time, also says he was asked about his SATs while Google was wooing him. Google really thinks it needs that data to determine how smart you are.
When Google was IPOing, Larry Page tried to make potential investors take a test just to make sure they really understood Google, and weren't jumping on board because it was trendy. The SEC squashed the move.
When Google had its IPO, the head of engineering said if he saw fancy sports cars in the parking lot bought with Google stock he would smash them with a baseball bat
'It's a company without revenue, but they're asking for $2 billion. Those kids are crazy!' said Gates.
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