10 Things You Didn't Know About Google

[image url="http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b1d4e9b0000000000e15726/image.jpg" link="lightbox" caption="" source="" alt="Google cofounder Sergey Brin and Larry Page, circa 2000" align="left" size="xlarge" nocrop="true" clear="true"]
What did we learn reading Ken Auletta’s book “Googled: The End Of The World As We Know It?”For one, we learned that at one point in Google’s history, Sergey Brin wanted to start a hedge fund.

His thinking was Google had better access to data, and would therefore produce superior returns.

We also learned that this kind of ridiculous ambition is a perfect illustration of Google.

One the one hand, it’s a quirky idea that was shot down — the sort of anecdote that makes us love Google for its willingness to try anything.

On the other hand it shows how conflicted, naive, and arrogant the company can be. Brin doesn’t know anything about hedge funds, but believes he can make a better hedge fund, just because.

That sort of thinking has just about every media and technology CEO nervous. Early on in the book, Mel Karmazin who tells Google’s three executives, “You’re fucking with the magic,” when he learns about their automated ad sales.

That’s the theme of Auletta’s book. How Google, and the Internet at large, is “fucking with the magic” of entrenched media and technology companies around the world.

Every big company is wary of Google, from Verizon to WPP to Disney. Considering Google’s insatiable appetite to try new businesses, there’s good reason for these companies to be nervous.

YouTube is losing money, says Auletta, yet it caused networks to look at their own web video strategy. Schmidt admits he doesn’t know how Android even monetizes, but it’s shaking up Apple, Verizon and Motorola.

But, for all of Google’s brain power, and products, it’s really only created one big business — search. The rest is ancillary.

So what happens if search is disrupted, and Google’s cash cow withers? That’s the question Auletta tries tackling at the end of his book, but can’t really answer. No one can at this point.

It’s hard to fathom search going away, but at the speed the web is changing, Google’s search could be disrupted in five years by some “Ph.D.’s in China,” says Irwin Gotlieb of GroupM.

Then what happens to Google? Its magic is fucked.

See what else we learned in…

10 things you didn’t know about Google →

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[slide
permalink=”two-people-turned-down-the-ceo-slot-1″
title=”Two people turned down the CEO slot”
content=”Google’s VCs were scared the founders would destroy the company, and were antsy to get a CEO installed.

After much coaxing, in the middle of 2000, Page and Brin met with two computer scientists to be CEO. Both turned down the job. One thought he would be a CEO at Intel, the other didn’t want to leave New York.

Auletta doesn’t identify these people, but they probably know what it is like to be Pete Best, the ex-Beatle who missed out.”
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[slide
permalink=”everybody-hated-eric-schmdit-2″
title=”Everybody hated Eric Schmdit”
content=”There’s a reason people didn’t want to be the CEO of Google. It was thankless job.

The founders were suspicious of Eric Schmidt, as were the VCs. For his first two years he was disliked by all and struggled to gain footing.”
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[slide
permalink=”sergey-brin-wanted-to-start-a-google-hedge-fund-3″
title=”Sergey Brin wanted to start a Google hedge fund”
content=”From Googled:

Sergey Brin once said, ‘We should run a hedge fund.’

‘Sergey, among your many ideas, this is the worst,’ Schmidt said.

‘No, we can do it because we have so much information.’

Schmidt explained the legal complications, and said he talked him out it.”
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[slide
permalink=”bob-iger-spends-one-hour-a-day-surfing-the-web-4″
title=”Bob Iger spends one hour a day surfing the web”
content=”The book isn’t all about Google. Auletta talks to just about every big media company’s CEO, including Bob Iger of Disney who says he trys to ‘spend one hour surfing the Internet. I just surf and look.’

This is amusing to wiseacres like ourselves. We spend all day on the web. Hard to imagine what it’s like to set aside an hour to ‘surf and look.’

Iger said he was inspired by Steve Jobs, who is constantly visiting Apple’s design labs and technology centres.”
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[slide
permalink=”larry-and-sergey-dont-have-assistants-5″
title=”Larry and Sergey don’t have assistants”
content=”Neither Larry nor Sergey have assistants. Page says it saves him time, because if people can contact an assistant they’ll bombard the assistant with requests. If you want to email Page, you’ll think twice before wasting his time.

He also says with a shared Google calender all the executives use, an assistant isn’t needed.

The only problem is that Page and Brin are flighty dudes. If the wind picks up they could take off for some kite surfing.”
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[slide
permalink=”the-cafeteria-can-only-have-150-seats-6″
title=”The cafeteria can only have 150 seats”
content=”In keeping with Google’s odd, exacting quirks, Larry Page insists the cafeteria only house 150 people. Anything outside of that isn’t conducive to team building.”
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[slide
permalink=”google-tried-to-buy-twitter-7″
title=”Google tried to buy Twitter”
content=”Auletta says Google tried and failed to buy Twitter. We’ve heard rumours about it, but reading it so plainly on the page was surprising. Especially, considering that Sergey Brin said he ‘did not try to buy Twitter,’ just two months ago.

The reason Google wants Twitter: Two executives are scared search could be vulnerable if it doesn’t have Twitter-like information offerings.”
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permalink=”eric-schmidt-doesnt-know-how-android-monetizes-8″
title=”Eric Schmidt doesn’t know how Android monetizes”
content=”Eric Schmidt is sceptical about mobile, telling Auletta, ‘I would love to argue that mobile is the next business for us. I’m not sure it is.’ He’s not sure how Google monetizes Android.

Following that quote is Verizon’s CEO who sounds cautious about working with Google. The book jumps around so it’s hard to say when this quote was taken from, but it was right after a quote from Sergey in the Spring of 2009.

Obviously, things have changed with Google and Verizon. Still, it is interesting to note that Schmidt is wavering on the importance of mobile. Sometimes he thinks it’s going to be huge, other times he’s not sure.”
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[slide
permalink=”andy-rubin-hates-verizon-and-att-9″
title=”Andy Rubin hates Verizon and AT&T”
content=”Here’s some foreshadowing for the Google phone reportedly in development. In the book, Andy Rubin is ‘openly disdainful’ of AT&T and Verizon, though he doesn’t single them out says Auletta.

Rubin says, ‘just because I have a plan with some whacky wireless service, doesn’t mean they get to dictate what I do with my product that I paid for. Another thing: It shouldn’t cost $400. That’s absurd. If you add up all the componets, somebody is making a lot of money.'”
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[slide
permalink=”some-chinese-phds-will-kill-google-10″
title=”Some Chinese Ph.D.’s will kill Google”
content=”Irwin Gotlieb, Global CEO of GroupM, the world’s largest media buying and planning agency, says Google does one thing brilliantly, but ‘will probably be leapfrogged by something that two Ph.D.’s in China are working on.’

We agree with Gotlieb’s assessment. It recalls Bill Gates proclamation, repeated earlier in the book that he feared ‘someone in a garage who is devising something completely new.’

Google’s search engine is killer now, but what happens as users grow older, and more savvy to the text ads that intermingle with search? What happens when the world uses mobile more often? It’s probable there’s a startup building an idea that Google should have built.”
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