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World e-domination partnership

Books>> Google Speaks by Janet Lowe Wiley and Co Rs 600 and Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain by Richard L Brandt Portfolio Books Rs 1,200

By Ananth Nayak
Published: Thursday 15 October 2009


In 1995, several graduate students at Stanford University's math department loathed one of their classmates' company. Sergey Brin had an opinion on almost everything and argued with almost everyone. Larry Page was among those who took a dislike for Brin. But Page never stopped engaging with the Russian migr.

The antagonism was to change into a friendship that's now part of business lore. The partnership and its product, Google, is the subject of several books. But unlike most books on Google that draw on already published works, the books under review portray Google through its jeans and sweatshirt clad employees.

In 1998, when Google went public, Brandt bought the company's stocks.As a stockholder, he could attend Google meetings, which, in the early years, were not open to other journalists.

Things were somewhat easier for Janet Lowe. A best selling author of biographies of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, Lowe had access to corporate honchos and friends of Page and Brin. She also had access to Google's employees. But it's a testimony to Google's secret society that both Brandt and Lowe are not allowed anything into last year's three-way battle between Microsoft, Google and Yahoo.

Down to Earth But both have delightful nuggets of information. Sample this: Google once erected a signboard on a congested corridor between San Francisco and Silicon Valley without any message. It was a mathematical problem. Those intelligent enough to solve it were invited for a job interview.

Brandt is more adept at understanding the minds of Page and Brin. When Google was deciding on which browser best fitted its products, opinions were divided between Internet Explorer and Firefox. The debate got too heated for Google's ceo Eric Schmidt. He gave Page and Brin a day to settle the issue. The two gave Google's engineers a new set of assignments and they wrote programs that would work with any browser.

Keeping the best brains was not an easy task. Google established an award for employees who showed extraordinary entrepreneurial talent. But "the inducement ended up pissing off more people," a Google veteran told Lowe.

Lowe scores over Brandt in understanding the company's pitfalls but she is shaky in her grasp of technology. That is the advantage Brandt holds. Readers wanting to acquire a deeper understanding of Google's world would be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable guide.

Ananth Nayak works for a software company in Hyderabad

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