Steven Levy – In the Plex: How Google Thinks Works Pdf download


Author(s): Steven LevyDownload  

Publish: Published April 12th 2011 by Simon Schuster

ISBN: ISBN 1416596585 (ISBN13: 9781416596585)


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.

Some Reviews: 28,226 ratings 836 reviews in


Greg rated it      
It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to modern society that Google has changed the way we live. It’s changed the way we get and share information, and it’s easy to take that for granted. Steven Levy’s book is an amazing look at the process and thinking behind a service that has done so much to influence the world, because it was not always easy.Levy’s main point, and one that encapsulates everything about Google, is that it’s a company entirely shaped by its founders’ vision, and those founders have a background in Montessori education that taught them to question everything. Knowing this, you understand how Google search completely rewrote the rules and created a product we can now live without. 

The same principle applies to the company’s internal structure and culture, and to how it has approached all of its products. And it all makes sense. This is Levy’s great accomplishment: tying together all the good (search, ads, YouTube) and all the bad (privacy scandals, antitrust lawsuits, patent wars) in a way that is completely intuitive – kind of like Google search itself.

While every part of the book is interesting and essential in understanding how Google came to be GOOGLE, the final chapter is the most fascinating of all. Here Levy looks at Google’s missteps – China, and the failure to see the importance of social media for example – and projects the future of the company that wants to make the world’s information free and accessible to all. It’s intelligent, nuanced and honest about Google’s situation.

Steven Levy is a journalist, and he expertly tells Google’s story while staying on the right side of the line that separates praise from evangelism and criticism from contrarianism. Brilliantly written and comprehensive in scope. Easily worth the time it takes to read to the very end.


Abdurrahman rated it     
The “coming of age” of a corporation does not sound like that much of an interesting read. not Google’s! “In The Plex” is guaranteed to cause a drastic change in the way you see Google. I will go as far as saying it is one of the most inspiring and engaging books I ever read.One very interesting observation in the first chapters is how extremely lucky Google’s founders were!!! Early on, they are repeatedly faced by a problem that they would hire someone to tackle. That person would then prove to be so fit for the problem that their solution could have singlehandedly be any other company’s gold mine! This caused the company to move from not making profits in its early years into turning in close to 30 billion dollars around 2010! 

The book goes on to tell how Google expanded from search into a large set of other markets.

One of the most engaging chapter tells the tale of Google’s adventure in China. The chapter is filled with so much thrill, suspense and humor that it easily rivals works of fiction.

Later chapters talk about a different Google; a giant corporation who finds it hard to compete with smaller, more agile startups and who is exceedingly seen by the public as a secretive company with too much power, too much information and suspicious interest in a very wide range of markets.

One thing that I found rather strangely presented in the book is how exactly Google decides which markets it is going to enter (many times offering its services for free). In parts of the book you get the feeling that it is a personal decision of Google’s founders and CEO. In others, the very weird argument that (what is good for the internet is good for Google) is presented.

I would very highly recommend this book for anyone (especially with a tech/engineering background). It is totally worth the read.


Annie rated it      
This is great read on the history of Google, it’s founders (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), and search technology. In the early days of the internet if you had typed in “newspaper,” you would not have gotten “New York Times” or “LA Times” because they didn’t have “newspaper” in its title. You had to know exactly what key words would generate the results you wanted. It’s amazing to think how far search engines have come — as you type, they predict what you want and populate key words for you. It is due to Google’s extreme focus on technology and goals (speed, measurement, refinement, and openness). And there are many more amazing Google technologies that work seamlessly into our lives, which I have forgotten about — Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Translate….There is a lot of reference to “Googley” people and culture and the company’s motto of “don’t be evil.” I think some readers will find it as a bias towards Google. I think it simply describes a workforce obsessively dedicated to doing what they love. For example, many might argue that Google’s entry into China was a major stumble and the book doesn’t place much accountability on the executives of Google. I think it was daring that Google did that. Selling technology in China is a high-risk proposition. Corruption and copyright infringements turn many companies away from China. Google had to know failure was very likely. Google took a chance to do something for the people of China. Although they censored results as required by the Chinese government, the users were informed on the page whenever results were censored. It was a small step… but an important step to reflect the value of openness — the Chinese people were told when they weren’t getting everything they wanted to see because the government was censoring it. 


Amr rated it     
I thought this would be a fan-boy book.
There’s a big part of this book that is just about telling the story of Google. How it started, how it has grown to be the Internet giant that it is now.
But it’s the Google story told by a journalist with a long relationship with Google. This doesn’t affect his integrity but I think it makes him sees the world as Google sees it. Judge Google by their intentions rather than their actions. He’s like one of those “embed” journalists that travel with the U.S. forces in Iraq. After a while, he starts to be one of them. This issue confirms my guess that this is a fan-boy book.But as I read on, the author raises questions about Google losing its soul (my words not his), and how it was transformed from an Internet startup to a giant corporation, and how all this affect Google. He’s not a fan-boy, he’s a fan of Google for sure but the way it was not necessarily the way it is or would be. 

The story is told in terms of topics and products. Starting with important products to less important topics and failed products. This causes some jumps in the time line forward and backward which could be frustrating. At least I felt that sometimes it lacks connecting all those stories together.

There’s a focus in the book on technical details. They’re explained in plain English in a way simple enough for a reader to understand but are also very intriguing for a developer or a person with technical background.

There are two stories in the book that I was impressed by: Google’s approach to Data Center and Google position towards China.

This book is a good read and I recommend it if you want to find more information on Google or want to see the world as they do.

Thanks to Ahmed Essam (Goodreads profile for recommending this book.


Noneareleft rated it     
Steven Lev writes for WIRED and other online entities but is not new to book authorship and it shows in his writing. I read The Perfect Thing and Levy is very good (like his contemporary Walt Mossberg) at writing to the “every man”. I never felt talked down to, but his sentences, chapters, and entire book flow and make the reader feel as if he has learned something along the way.After coming off of Fred Vogelstein’s awful “Dogfight”, In the Plex was blessed medicine from the writing wound that Dogfight left. Levy manages to go deep into the Google organization without coming across as a sycophant. The organizational structure of Google is fascinating, though for every advance through genius, there seems to be a setback prompted by hubris, which the founders Brin and Page seem to not notice, nor care to look for. 

In the Plex paints Page and Brin as humans who love humanity, but seem to disdain other actual humans. Page’s need to sign off on every new hire seems like and incredible waste, coming from people who pride themselves on engineering and efficiency. They seem to look down on anyone without a degree, which makes me wonder just who fixes their Priuses when they break down?

Still, Levy’s writing is wonderful and this book was a joy to listen to. It came across as balanced and insightful. I know more about and appreciate more about Google now than I did before, though the book makes just as plain Google’s faults and blindspots. For people with degrees decreeing that “the use is always right” they strongly say often that what people want is the wrong thing and that humanity should only want what Google wants.

So, all-in-all, a great listen (or read if you’re so inclined). I would recommend anything by Levy.


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