Book Review: In the Plex, How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

May 30th, 2011 by lewis

For those of you who have a Google job interview, I highly recommend that you read Steve Levy’s In the Plex before your interview.  Steven Levy, a noted Newsweek author, writes a masterful insider’s account.  He traces Google’s history of success, giving the reader access to the backroom discussions and the insider logic behind key decisions and milestones.  Here are the top three things Google job seekers will find helpful about this book:

Employee profiles.  Levy writes vivid portraits of key Google employees from top executives such as Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt to front-line product managers such as Wesley Chan and Erick Tseng.  Levy also provides more details on influential yet out of the spotlight executives such as Salar Kamangar, Susan Wojcicki and Urs Holzle.  Levy discusses their backgrounds and the roles they played to make Google a success.

Insight into Google’s unique culture. The book explains they whys around Google’s dominant innovation engine, tracing the roots back to the founders and their childhood backgrounds and acknowledging Montessori’s influence on Larry and Sergey’s iconoclastic thinking.  Key decisions, such as Google’s aborted Skype acquisition, multi-billion dollar boardband spectrum auction, and Google’s China policy, are discussed in detail, revealing Google’s unconventional methods to attain unique goals.

Never revealed details on Google technology. Levy discusses key technologies from the secret Google AdWords blackbox to their energy efficient, environmentally friendly data centers.

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