Month: November 2009

The Digital Wave and the Google Tsunami

I have 25 1/2 hours to finish Ken Auletta’s new book “Googled: The End of the World as We Know It” before I meet him for drinks and oversee his speaking engagement. I’ve read about 8 chapters so far. That leaves a couple hundred pages to go. In the meantime, here are some tidbits I found worth writing down (or the digital equivalent thereof)

Notable Nuggets


Google is run by engineers, and engineers are people who ask why: Why must we do things the way they’ve always been done? Why should all books ever published be digitized? Why shouldn’t we be able to read any newspaper or magazine online…

Founded in 1998. Started turning a profit in 2004

Messing with the Magic

Google in 2002 had scanned or indexed 3.1 billion web pages, about 80% of what was then www. By early 2009 there were an estimated 25.2 billion web pages.

Google decides whethere the link is relevant and assigns it a value. The quantified value is known as PageRank, after Larry Page.

AdWords – allows potential advertisers to bid to place small text ads next to the results for key search words.

The minimum bid per keyword is set by Google. A commonly searched word or phrase like eBay or JetBlue might cost only a penny or two, while a more esoteric phrase like helicopter parts might fetch fifty dollars a click.

In a second advertising program, AdSense, Google served as a matchmaker, marrying advertisers with Web destinations. If Intel wanted to advertiser on technology blogs or a hotel in London wanted ot promote itself on travel sites, Google put them together via a similar automated system.

Google performed several hundred million daily searches in 2003. Today the number is 3 billion.

Google helped advertisers target consumers not just by age, sex, income, profession or zip code, but by personal preferences for leisure time actvities, frequently visited locations, product preferences, news peferences, etc.

From a peak daily newspaper circulation of 63MM in 1984, circulation slid an average of 1% each year until 2004, when the drop became more precipitous.

On a typical night in 1976, 92% of all viewers were watching CBS, NBC or ABC; today, those networks (along with Fox) attract about 46% of viewers.

Old media companies were atrapped in the “the innovator’s dilemma,” what Clayton M. Christensen described in his book of that name, and well-managed companies that, confrtoned by new technologies or new business models, floundered by fierceley defending their existing business models and not changing fast enough.

“Don’t be evil.”

The number one network television program in the 1988-1989 season was “The Cosby Show,” which was watched by 41% of HHs with TV sets; 20 years later, the top show was “American Idol,” it reached just 1/5 of those watching TV.

Most employees are alotted a day a week, or 20% of their time, to work on projects they feel passionate about.

Burning Man – the annual anarchic –animistic retreat in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert that cultimates in the burning effigy of a giant wood and dessert brush “man.”

Starting in a Garage

Bill Gates in 1998: “I fear someone in a garage who is devising something completely new.”

Innovation is usually the enemy of established companies.

Page and Brin met at orientation for incoming Stanford graduate students – 3 years before founding Google in a garage.

Their fathers were college professors, and their mothers worked in science. Both attended Montessori elementary schools.


Messing with the Magic

Eric Schmidt – Chairman and CEO
Sergey Brin
Larry Page

Stacey Savides Sullian – Dec 1999 – #50 – chief cultural officer
Hal Varian – chief economist

Terry Winograd – Larry Page’s graduate school mentor at Stanford

Anne Wojcicki