Synopses & Reviews
Written with full cooperation from top management, including cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, this is the inside story behind Google, the most successful and most admired technology company of our time, told by one of our best technology writers.
Few companies in history have ever been as successful and as admired as Google, the company that has transformed the Internet and become an indispensable part of our lives. How has Google done it? Veteran technology reporter Steven Levy was granted unprecedented access to the company, and in this revelatory book he takes readers inside Google headquarters—the Googleplex—to show how Google works.
While they were still students at Stanford, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized Internet search. They followed this brilliant innovation with another, as two of Google’s earliest employees found a way to do what no one else had: make billions of dollars from Internet advertising. With this cash cow, Google was able to expand dramatically and take on other transformative projects: more efficient data centers, open-source cell phones, free Internet video (YouTube), cloud computing, digitizing books, and much more.
The key to Google’s success in all these businesses, Levy reveals, is its engineering mind-set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. After its unapologetically elitist approach to hiring, Google pampers its engineers—free food and dry cleaning, on-site doctors and masseuses—and gives them all the resources they need to succeed. Even today, with a workforce of more than 23,000, Larry Page signs off on every hire.
But has Google lost its innovative edge? With its newest initiative, social networking, Google is chasing a successful competitor for the first time. Some employees are leaving the company for smaller, nimbler start-ups. Can the company that famously decided not to be evil still compete?
No other book has ever turned Google inside out as Levy does with In the Plex.
"The contradictions of the Internet search behemoth are teased apart in this engaging, slightly starry-eyed business history. Wired magazine writer Levy (Hackers) insightfully recaps Google's groundbreaking search engine and fabulously profitable online ad brokering business, and elucidates the cutting-edge research and hard-nosed cost-efficiencies underlying them. He also regales readers with the 'Googley' corporate culture of hip techno-capitalism: the elitist focus on braininess, the campus game rooms, the countercultural rectitude of billionaire founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (which can read more like puerile arrogance as they roller-blade into meetings with business-suited squares). Levy's narrative updates a familiar portrait of the company, with breathless accounts of recent innovations. He offers a smart analysis of the tensions between Google's 'Ã¢Â€Â˜Don't Be Evil'' slogan and its censorship of its Chinese Web site and the privacy implications of its drive to sponge up all information but he accepts Google's blinkered conception of e-ethics and its demands for huge tax breaks with too much complacency. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Dense, driven examination of the pioneering search engine that changed the face of the Internet.
Thoroughly versed in technology reporting, Wired senior writer Levy deliberates at great length about online behemoth Google and creatively documents the company’s genesis from a 'feisty start-up to a market-dominating giant.' The author capably describes Google’s founders, Stanford grads Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as sharp, user-focused and steadfastly intent on 'organizing all the world’s information.' Levy traces how Google’s intricately developed, intrepid beginnings and gradual ascent over a competitive marketplace birthed an advertising-fueled 'money machine' (especially following its IPO in 2004), and he follows the expansion and operation of the company’s liberal work campus ('Googleplex') and its distinctively selective hiring process (Page still signs off on every new hire). The author was afforded an opportunity to observe the company’s operations, development, culture and advertising model from within the infrastructure for two years with full managerial cooperation. From there, he performed hundreds of interviews with past and current employees and discovered the type of 'creative disorganization' that can either make or break a business. Though clearly in awe of Google’s crowning significance, Levy evenhandedly notes the company’s more glaring deficiencies, like the 2004 cyber-attack that forced the removal of the search engine from mainland China, a decision vehemently unsupported by co-founder Brin. Though the author offers plenty of well-known information, it’s his catbird-seat vantage point that really gets to the good stuff.
Outstanding reportage delivered in the upbeat, informative fashion for which Levy is well known."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Levy is America’s premier technology journalist. . . . He has produced the most interesting book ever written about Google. He makes the biggest intellectual challenges of computer science seem endlessly fun and fascinating. . . . We can expect many more books about Google. But few will deliver the lively, idea-based journalism of In the Plex
—Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Washington Post
"An instructive primer on how the minds behind the world's most influential internet company function."
—Richard Waters, The Wall Street Journal
"Almost nothing can stop a remarkable idea executed well at the right time, as Steven Levy's brisk-but-detailed history of Google, In the Plex
, convincingly proves. . . . makes obsolete previous books on the company."
—Jack Shafer, The San Francisco Chronicle
"[Steven Levy] spent much of the past three years playing anthropologist at one of the Internet's most interesting villages and set of inhabitants -- the Googleplex and the tribue of Googlers who inhabit it. . . . A deep dive into Google's culture, history and technology."
--Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News
"The rise of Google is an engrossing story, and nobody's ever related it in such depth."
—Hiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe
"The wizards of Silicon Valley often hype their hardware/software breakthroughs as 'magical' for the products' ability to pull off dazzling stunts in the blink of an eye. And true to the magicians' code, these tech talents rarely let mere mortals peer behind the curtains. . . . That's what makes Levy's just-out tome so valuable."
—Jonathan Takiff, The Philadelphia Daily News
"The most comprehensive, intelligent and readable analysis of Google to date.
"Steven Levy's new account [of Google], In the Plex,
is the most authoritative to date and in many ways the most entertaining."
—James Gleick, The New York Review of Books
"The most comprehensive, intelligent and readable analysis of Google to date. Levy is particularly good on how those behind Google think and work. . . . What's more, his lucid introductions to Google's core technologies - the search engine and the company's data centres - are written in non-geek English and are rich with anecdotes and analysis. . . . In The Plex
teems with original insight into Google's most controversial affairs."
—Andrew Keen, New Scientist
“Brimming with insights and backed up with solid research, Mindful Work takes us to the front lines of a revolution that is transforming the business world.”
“Gelles has done a masterful job of capturing the 'mindfulness movement'. His candid analysis and his dialogue with people from all facets of this movement paint a wonderfully clear view of a potent proposition for living and working in better ways.”
—Scott Kriens, Chairman, Juniper Networks, and Director, 1440 Foundation
“In this compelling book, Gelles describes how apparent paradoxes can resolve into a business culture where taking a breath is part of making a buck.”
—Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together
“In this wise and revealing work, David Gelles explains how Eastern wisdom is transforming the Western workplace. Smart, hopeful and inspiring, this is a book with a wide reach and a clear focus.”
—Mark Epstein, author of The Trauma of Everyday Life and Thoughts without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
“A delightful, authoritative, and provocative guide to the new world of mindfulness at work. David Gelles covers the story from the inside out, giving readers exactly what they need to assess whether mindfulness is for them — and, if so, how to forge ahead. Give this book your full attention.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of Focus and Emotional Intelligence
“This stunning new book is by far the most insightful, practical guide to mindfulness and meditation. Gelles, who has deep experience with mindfulness, takes us inside leading companies like Google, General Mills, Aetna, and Patagonia to show how meditation is transforming workplaces. Mindful Work could change your life.”
—Bill George, Harvard Business School, former CEO of Medtronic, and author of True North
“Gelles deftly shows the power of mindfulness to change individuals, businesses and our world for the better. Mindfulness is a practice we need to embrace, and we cannot be afraid to follow this path.”
—Marc Benioff, Chairman & CEO, Salesforce
“Mindfulness in the workplace is a real trend and few are as well equipped to explain it as David Gelles. He expertly conveys how companies incorporate mindfulness principles into their cultures and offers practical tips to managers on how to do the same.”
—Reid Hoffman, co/founder & chairman, LinkedIn and co-author of The Alliance
“This carefully researched, heartfully written, and delightfully readable book tells one of the most interesting true stories of our time: the fascinating and sometimes messy coming together of the wisdom world and the corporate world.”
—Chade-Meng Tan, Jolly Good Fellow of Google, author of Search Inside Yourself
“Readers curious about the benefits of mindfulness at work or in their personal lives will appreciate this book.”
"Intriguing, timely, and enjoyable new book, a fascinating account of the increasing adoption of these ancient oriental disciplines by western businesses as means of improving corporate efficiency, reducing employee stress, and, directly or indirectly, boosting the bottom line."
Written with full cooperation from top management at Google, this is the story behind the most successful and admired technology company of our time.
An investigation of the growing trend among major companies, including Fortune 100 giants, to promote mindful activities like meditation and yoga in the workplace, and its often surprising effects on productivity, strategy, and employees mental health.
A New York Times reporter reveals what business leaders around the country are already discovering: Meditation may be the key to fostering a happier, more productive workplace.
For the past few years, mindfulness has begun to transform the American workplace. Many of our largest companies, such as General Mills, Ford, Target, and Google, have built extensive programs to foster mindful practices among their workers. Mindful Work is the first book to explain how all sorts of businesses and any kind of worker can benefit from meditation, yoga, and other mindful techniques. As a business reporter for the New York Times who has also practiced meditation for two decades, David Gelles is uniquely qualified to chart the growing nexus between these two realms. As he proves, mindfulness lowers stress, increases mental focus, and alleviates depression among workers. He also offers real-world examples of how mindfulness has benefited companies that have adopted it — from the millions of dollars Aetna has saved in health-care costs to the ways Patagonia has combined leadership in its market with a pervasively mindful outlook.
Gelles's revelatory book picks up where bestsellers like Thrive and 10% Happier leave off, by detailing how mindfulness works in and for the companies that adopt it, revealing the profound impact mindfulness can have on the world of work. Mindful Work goes beyond other books on the subject by providing evidence for the practical benefits of mindfulness and showing readers how to become more mindful themselves.
About the Author
DAVID GELLES is a staff writer for the New York Times Sunday Business section. Previously, he was a correspondent for the Financial Times, and his work has appeared in Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He has also practiced meditation regularly for over a decade, ever since studying the technique while living in India.