About the book
We all know how special a company Google is. It is, in fact, so special it became a model for other firms, a bit the way Ford, GM or Toyota became models in their time.
To understand its successes, you have, of course, to remember that Google was born in a very spécial place, the Silicon Valley, with its universities, its financial skills and its special legal rules, at a very special time, the late nineties, when the web was growing very quickly and the explosion of the internet bubble gave a young company the opportunity to hire the best engineers for a very low salary.
But if Google is so different, it is because its innovated in several departments of a company's life:
- Technology: its search algorithm, of course, but also its factories, its computer farms and the software it wrote to manage them,
- The economic model with its double enveloppe auction system and the invention of a gift economy,
- Governance with its three leaders,
- The management techniques be it in HR (reputation as a motivational driver, the 20% rule...), product development (the swiss knife method) or marketing (user first).
Google obsviously learnt how to keep a company rowing with innovations and how to mobilize its engineers, the IT community and its users, it is stll growing very quickly and entering several new makets (mobile phone, cloud computing, office automation...). But these last month Google encountered drawbacks on several fronts: the copyright and privacy issues in Europe, monopoly concerns in the US, censorship in China. Which gives more credit to some long asked questions:
- Is this model sustainable as the small company of the late nineties gets bigger and bigger?
- Can Google resist its numerous and poweful critics: authoritarian governments, cultural industries, phone companies, people who want to protect our privacy rights?
- Can this model be effective in more traditional activities, like the marketing of hardware?
- Could Google become a dangerous monopoly?
- If this company is a model, for whom?can its solutions be applied to other industries?