The story behind a success always makes for good reading. And, if such a story is presented like a drama, interspersed with audacious ambition, envy, struggle for control, rivalry, lawsuits, accusations, counter-accusations, and some humour, it would most likely make for some very engrossing reading. To top it all, this is not a work of fiction – in fact, it is not even a dramatization of reality. It is a chronicle of events that happened behind the scenes of what in the words of the author is the ‘hottest business, media and technology success of our time’.
The book starts with describing a scene in 2003, where the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, address a high school in Israel. They explain how Google was born.
Page and Brin were PhD students at Stanford University. The idea of Google was born when Page conceived of downloading the entire web on to his computer to try and devise a search program for it. It was an audacious idea. While he had planned to finish the exercise in a week, he could manage only a portion of it even after a year. “So, optimism is important,” Page told his audience, “One must have a healthy disregard for the impossible.”
It was this optimism that helped Page persist with his plan. He kept downloading the web on to his machine, and Brin helped him mine the data and make sense of it. https://playstoreforpc.com/ According to the duo, it took a lot of effort, a lot of night-outs, and a lot of working through holidays.
After this brief prelude-like beginning, the story goes back to the beginning – when Page met Brin.
Page and Brin were both PhD students at Stanford, and they had a lot in common. They were both from families which placed great value on scholarship and academic excellence. They both had fathers who were professors, and mothers whose jobs revolved around computers and technology. Computers, mathematics, and intellectual debates and discussions were part of their genetic codes as well as their day-to-day lives. It was only natural, then, that they got along with each other quite well, and started working together.
They also had an environment that was very conducive to innovation, experimentation and ideation. Stanford is known for churning out several successful technology ventures, including HP and Sun (Sun stands for Stanford University Network). People in Stanford are firm in their belief that sometimes, making a business out of a technological innovation delivers a much greater effect than writing a paper on it.
Also, at the time the two were together, there was a major IT revolution happening. The likes of Netscape were creating waves outside with unprecedentedly huge IPO’s, and the Internet was touted to be the next big thing. As a result, venture capitals were skewed heavily towards funding technological start-ups. These circumstances created a setting ripe for research and innovation relating to the Internet, and Page and Brin believed that a robust search application was the one thing that Internet users most needed.
Search engines prevalent at that time provided service that was far from satisfactory. There were many in operation – the likes of Lycos, Webcrawler, Excite and a few others. All of them fell short. They would only display a slew of results that made little sense to the searcher.
At that time, another duo from Stanford was running a company which they had named ‘Yahoo’. They devised a better search algorithm, by creating an alphabetized directory of Web Pages. Also, another new search engine called AltaVista came up. Its search algorithm was based, like other search engines, on the number of times the key word figured in the web page, but it displayed results using the now popular concept of web links. A link, essentially, is a kind of a pointer to another web page.
The idea of using links for a search engine excited Brin and Page. They started thinking of it on an entirely new dimension.
Coming from families that treasured academic research, Page and Brin looked at links as something akin to citations in academic research. In academia, a paper was considered good if it had citations. The more the citations, the better the paper. Also, not all citations were equal. Citations from quality sources enhanced the paper’s value.
Using the analogy, the pair developed their search algorithm, called PageRank. It depended, among other things, the number of links that pointed to the web page. The more the links, the higher the rank. Also, links from the more renowned websites, such as Yahoo, would carry more weight than a link from a lesser known website.
Initially, the Google Guys named their search engine ‘BackRub’, as it was based on the links pointing backward to the site. However, they eventually decided that they had to come up with a new name. Because it dealt with vast amounts of data, they decided to name it ‘Google’. Googol is a very large number – 1 followed by 100 zeros. ‘Google’, is actually a misspelling of ‘Googol’, something which many people do not know.
Google was first released internally in Stanford. From the beginning, it has maintained a clean and simple homepage, free from flashy animations and the like. It was an instant hit in the Stanford network.