We bought the book on its release, very excited to read some good journalism about the hottest business topic of the day.
Halfway through the book (in a matter of three days – a possible sign pointing to its lack of depth) we’re realizing that this is not the case.
The book is written in informal magazine style, in keeping with his roots as a “cutting edge” technology writer (having worked for Wired and Business 2.0, magazines that try desperately to be “too cool for the room”).
This would be fine enough, except that Battelle has a habit of jumping around from year to year, talking about decisions made by players in Google’s history before he actually introduces them.
He never fully explains why it was important for Sergey Brin and Larry Page – Google’s founders – to resign their chairman and Chief Executive Officer posts, nor does he tell the reader what their new titles are.
The computer algorithm that led to the Google search engine and a multi billion dollar business was developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were working as graduate students under part of a $4.5 million National Science Foundation grant for a digital library project at Stanford University.
We considered keeping a tally of how many times he used “well” as an interjection, but lost interested after we ran out of fingers.
On page 150 he discusses a lack of managerial prowess on the part of Brin, Page and new Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt.
According to Battelle, one of Google’s investors, John Doerr, insisted that Intuit founder Bill Campbell come on as a leadership coach.
Battelle uses an anecdote from journalist John Heilemann’s GQ article on Google, which quotes Doerr as saying, “we don’t know where the company would be without him.”.
Not to mention that he doesn’t include the actual title of Heilemann’s article in either the main book or the citations.
And selling books, music and videos through Google Play, which is so related to search.
In the book’s final chapter, Battelle introduces the idea of having several different kinds of information contribute to “perfect search,” including every tech writer and journalist’s favorite idea, the blog.
He bulldozes through a description of the blog and later posits that we have reached the critical mass point, “but we don’t know it yet.”.
We suspect that Battelle means that he’s savvier than users and other writers and he knows something we don’t, but he doesn’t explain why he thinks we’ve reached the tipping point, nor what that means in the overall discussion of what the blog can do.
The company certainly is interesting and large enough to warrant an historical account and Battelle ought to be forthcoming with his intent.
The short discussions he does include of the company’s search engine precursors such as Lycos and Alta Vista need considerable expansion and deserve to be considered as more than also rans, if he really wants to be considered the historian of search and not just Google’s unofficial corporate historian.
Googles very success comes from being the pencil, the sharp, focused search engine from when others forgot search.
Nicole Hansch is a business journalist based in Sydney, Australia. Nicole has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Nicole spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.