Synopses & Reviews
A fresh perspective on the ongoing war for media profits, and why the ultimate winners will surprise people
Every day brings new headlines about the decline of traditional media powerhouses like Time Inc. and the triumph of digital native media like Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, and Politico. Old media giants like the New York Times are betting everything on their digital offerings to replace the shrinking revenue from traditional advertising.
But the ugly truth, argues Michael Wolff, is that digital media isnt working for any content creator, old or new. Sure, Google and Facebook make a fortune selling online advertisingbut theyre aggregators, not creators. Both old and new media are barely making any money from online text. And as major advertisers conclude that banner ads next to text basically dont work, they flock back to the one format that still gets big results: television. The value of an eyeballs attention to digital media has plummeted, while the value of a television eyeball continues to increase.
Of course television isnt what it used to beits now an almost unquantifiable flood of video across ever-present multiple screens, witty, informative, specialized, erudite, culturally prescient and perceptive (along with low and empty), that more and more annotates, curates, and informs most aspects, and hours, of our lives.”
Wolff shows how the leaders in digital media, from the mighty platforms to brand name magazine and news sites, are now trying to become video producers and to effectively put themselves into the television business as distributors and programmers. Native advertising and sponsored content are the new forms of soap opera. Television, by any other name, is the game everybody is trying to winfrom Netflix to YouTube to the Wall Street Journal.
The result is both a new golden age of televisiona competition for discerning niche audiences willing to pay big feesand a commodity age, because the more video you make and own, without much regard for quality, the more advertising dollars you accrue. Wolff predicts what will happen during the next few years of this gold rush and war for survival.
"Two Googles emerge in this savvy profile of the Internet search octopus. The first is the actual company, with its mixture of business acumen and nave idealism ('Don't Be Evil' is the corporate slogan); its brilliant engineering feats and grad-students-at-play company culture; its geek founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two billionaires who imbibe their antiestablishment rectitude straight from Burning Man; its pseudo-altruistic quest to offer all the world's information for free while selling all the world's advertising at a hefty profit. The second Google is a monstrous metaphor for all the creative destruction that the Internet has wrought on the crumbling titans of old media, who find themselves desperately wondering how they will make money off of news, music, video and books now that people can Google up all these things without paying a dime. The first Google makes for a standard-issue tech-industry grunge-to-riches business story, its main entertainment value being Brin's and Page's comical lack of social graces. But New Yorker columnist Auletta (World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies) makes the second Google a starting point for a sharp and probing analysis of the apocalyptic upheavals in the media and entertainment industries." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“This is an engrossing look at Google and the broader trends in information and entertainment in the Internet age.”—Booklist
, Starred Review
“[A] savvy profile of the Internet search octopus….[and] a sharp and probing analysis of the apocalyptic upheavals in the media and entertainment industries.”—Publishers Weekly
“Auletta uncovers some endlessly colorful material and assesses [Google’s] prospects critically but fairly.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Auletta has captured something critical and true about the tribe that made the enormous success of Google possible. His understanding is critical and essential for anyone trying to predict how long this run of enormous success will continue. Bottom line: Not forever, and maybe not much longer. Here's exactly why.”—Larry Lessig, author of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy and Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity
“A uniquely incisive account of the new Internet revolution, powered by Ken Auletta’s unparalleled access. Essential reading.”—Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and co-founder of Ning
"Ken Auletta has produced the seminal book about media in the digital age. It is a triumph of reporting and analysis, filled with revealing scenes, fascinating tales, and candid interviews. Google is both a driver and a symbol of a glorious disruption in the media world, and Auletta chronicles, in a balance and thoughtful way, both that glory and that disruption."—Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Praise for More Awesome Than Money
“The courageous and ingenious actions of these four NYU students and the Diaspora hackers who come in their wake will make you want to stand up and cheer. In an age of self-absorbed tweeting and friending, these young people are our Rocky Balboas and Martin Luther Kings. This book is proof that we are no longer customers of social networks, but rather the merchandise. The advertisers are the true customers, and our private thoughts, desires, and needs are exploited, sold, and bartered among them like trading cards—long after weve hit the delete button. The tragic death of the talented programmer Ilya Zhitomirskiy stands as testimony to our own inertia about the commercial forces that seek to control us. Im glad I met this young man on these pages, and I'm glad that the deeply talented Jim Dwyer—who also wrote the best book on 9-11 you'll ever read—brought him and his friends to us with such stirring clarity. Its a superb work, and a great read.”
—James McBride, author of The Good Lord Bird and The Color of Water, winner of the National Book Award
“Jim Dwyers More Awesome Than Money is the story of four young men who dared to go up against the (new) machine—in this case, Facebook. By turns funny, poignant, scary, heartbreaking, and hopeful, More Awesome Than Money includes everything you need to know about how your personal information is being manipulated on the Internet, and what to do about it.”
—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
“Books have been written about those who struck it rich in Silicon Valley. The four young idealists in this engrossing book did not. Their dreams of creating a more noble social network failed. Their names will not shadow Mark Zuckerberg. They may not be deemed ‘cool. In the deft hands of author Jim Dwyer, they are ‘cool, and complicated. We follow them down the rabbit hole as they, like other forgotten names, travel from euphoria, to doubt, to dissension, to dissolution. Readers of this suspenseful narrative will not soon forget the mountaintop-to-valley drama they endured, the classic business and human mistakes they made, nor the nobility of what they hoped to do.”
—Ken Auletta, author of Googled and Greed and Glory on Wall Street
“Failure is all to common for startups, but this is the best-told story of failure Ive read. I was rooting for the improbable the whole way. It perfectly captures the texture of Silicon Valleys humanity and dreams better than any success story could.”
—Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired, and author of What Technology Wants
“This latest book in the genre is smarter and more brutally honest than most. . . . Dwyer uses his considerable journalistic talents to make the dynamics between the founders compelling.”—New York Times Book Review
“[Dwyers] fly-on-the-wall style of reporting brings vivid detail to his narrative. You can feel the excitement and anxiety among the Diaspora four. . . .” —Wall Street Journal
“[A] lively account…[that] finds heroism and success, betrayal and even, ultimately, tragedy in the hurtling pursuit of a cause.”—Washington Post
“Dwyers account . . . is a thrilling read, astoundingly detailed and researched, alternately suspenseful and heartbreaking.”—Daily Beast
“[A] lively account of Diasporas creation as an alternative to the Silicon Valley megaliths. Like any account of the memorable early days of a revolution, Dwyers reporting finds heroism and success, betrayal and even, ultimately, tragedy in the hurtling pursuit of a cause.”—Denver Post
“A thoroughly compelling account recommended for those interested in general technology books and business narratives. This book is a welcome addition to the literature on start-ups, particularly for its focus on notions of privacy in the digital era and how entrepreneurs are working to address these critical needs.”—Library Journal
“This is a greatly informative book.”—Booklist
Praise for 102 MINUTES
“A masterpiece.”—Kevin Baker, The New York Times
“A heartstopping, meticulous account.”—The New York Times Book Review
A revealing, forward-looking examination of the outsize influence Google has had on the changing media Landscape.
There are companies that create waves and those that ride or are drowned by them. As only he can, bestselling author Ken Auletta takes readers for a ride on the Google wave, telling the story of how it formed and crashed into traditional media businesses?from newspapers to books, to television, to movies, to telephones, to advertising, to Microsoft. With unprecedented access to Google?s founders and executives, as well as to those in media who are struggling to keep their heads above water, Auletta reveals how the industry is being disrupted and redefined.
Using Google as a stand-in for the digital revolution, Auletta takes readers inside Google?s closed-door meetings and paints portraits of Google?s notoriously private founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as those who work with?and against?them. In his narrative, Auletta provides the fullest account ever told of Google?s rise, shares the ?secret sauce? of Google?s success, and shows why the worlds of ?new? and ?old? media often communicate as if residents of different planets.
Google engineers start from an assumption that the old ways of doing things can be improved and made more efficient, an approach that has yielded remarkable results? Google will generate about $20 billion in advertising revenues this year, or more than the combined prime-time ad revenues of CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. And with its ownership of YouTube and its mobile phone and other initiatives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt tells Auletta his company is poised to become the world?s first $100 billion media company. Yet there are many obstacles that threaten Google?s future, and opposition from media companies and government regulators may be the least of these. Google faces internal threats, from its burgeoning size to losing focus to hubris. In coming years, Google?s faith in mathematical formulas and in slide rule logic will be tested, just as it has been on Wall Street.
Distilling the knowledge accrued from a career of covering the media, Auletta will offer insights into what we know, and don?t know, about what the future holds for the imperiled industry.
Auletta provides the fullest account ever told of Google's rise, shares the secret of Google's success, and shows why the worlds of new and old media often communicate as if residents of different planets.
"The fullest account yet of the rise of one of the most profitable, most powerful, and oddest businesses the world has ever seen."
-San Francisco Chronicle
Just eleven years old, Google has profoundly transformed the way we live and work-we've all been Googled. Esteemed media writer Ken Auletta uses the story of Google's rise to explore the future of media at large. This book is based on the most extensive cooperation ever granted a journalist, including access to closed-door meetings and interviews with industry legends, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marc Andreessen, and media guru "Coach" Bill Campbell. Auletta's unmatched analysis, vivid details, and rich anecdotes illuminate how the Google wave grew, how it threatens to drown media institutions, and where it's taking us next.
David versus Goliath in Silicon Valleyan epic attempt to take back the Internet
Their idea was simple. Four NYU undergrads wanted to build a social network that would allow users to control their personal data, instead of surrendering it to big businesses like Facebook. They called it Diaspora. In days, they raised $200,000, and reporters, venture capitalists, and the digital communitys most legendary figures
were soon monitoring their progress. Max dreamed of being a CEO. Ilya was the idealist. Dan coded like a pro, and Rafi tried to keep them all on track. But as the months passed and the money ran out, the Diaspora Four fell victim to errors, bad decisions, and their own hubris. In November 2011, Ilya committed suicide.
Diaspora has been tech news since day one, but the story reaches far beyond Silicon Valley to the now urgent issues about the future of the Internet. With the cooperation of the surviving partners, New York Times bestselling author Jim Dwyer tells a riveting story of four ambitious and naÏve young men who tried to rebottle the genie of personal privacyand paid the ultimate price.
About the Author
Ken Auletta has written the “Annals of Communications” column and profiles for The New Yorker since 1992. He is the author of eight books, including Three Blind Mice, Greed and Glory on Wall Street, and World War 3.0. In naming him America’s premier media critic, the Columbia Journalism Review said, “No other reporter has covered the new communications revolution as thoroughly as has Auletta.” He lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.
Table of Contents
Googled Part One: Different Planets
Chapter One: Messing with the Magic
Part Two: The Google Story
Chapter Two: Starting in a Garage
Chapter Three: Buzz but Few Dollars (1999-2000)
Chapter Four: Prepping the Google Rocket (2001-2002)
Chapter Five: Innocence or Arrogance? (2002-2003)
Chapter Six: Google Goes Public (2004)
Chapter Seven: The New Evil Empire? (2004-2005)
Part Three: Google Versus the Bears
Chapter Eight: Chasing the Fox (2005-2006)
Chapter Nine: War on Multiple Fronts (2007)
Chapter Ten: Waking the Government Bear
Chapter Eleven: Google Enters Adolescence (2007-2008)
Chapter Twelve: Is "Old" Media Drowning? (2008)
Chapter Thirteen: Compete or Collaborate?
Chapter Fourteen: Happy Birthday (2008-2009)
Part Four: Googled
Chapter Fifteen: Googled
Chapter Sixteen: Where Is the Wave Taking Old Media?
Chapter Seventeen: Where Is the Wave Taking Google?