I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards

In 2000 only a handful of people saw the value of pure search clearly, and many of them already worked at Google. Quietly, steadily, and without even a hint to their colleagues down the hall, the engineers were building a plan to share their vision of a perfect hammer with a much wider audience.

Because they knew the world was full of nails. (p.140)

Iʼm Feeling Lucky
(The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59)
by Douglas Edwards
July 2011

In 1999 Douglas Edwards was a successful middle aged marketing and product development manager for the San Jose Mercury News. He was married with three children and a mortgage. This seemed to be the perfect time to leave the security of a well paid semi-prestigious position and go job hunting in the wildly uncertain jungle of dot com start ups. Most people in his position who followed that rainbow ended up with a ticket on the Titanic. Doug ended up on Apollo 11.

There are some moments when is seems that Doug just wrote this book to rant about some gal named Marissa; however, even those moments often come off entertaining due to the engaging style of writing. Everyone has a Marissa in their life and while she tends to drive us crazy, in this case the author can at least give us some appreciation for her strengths. It seems that everyone at Google has strengths. When a
company starts out with smart people and has a policy of not hiring anyone who isnʼt at least as smart as you are… well, things can escalate pretty quickly.

In addition to being quite entertaining Iʼm Feeling Lucky offers clear insights to what makes Google click. Itʼs called being Googley and it is a dynamic mixture of brilliance, very hard work, very hard play, vision, and a creed that basically consist of “Donʼt Be Evil.” It also consists of an aversion to the standard rules by which Corporate America tends to operate. Sergey Brin, one of the two company founders, once seriously suggested that they take al of their marketing budget and use it to inoculate Chechen refugees against cholera. Why not increase your customer base by saving lives? (Thatʼs a new one for corporate America.)

From the free candy and good home cooked meals, to the company wide ski trips, to a corporate mindset for frugality that innovated placing fifteen hundred servers in a rented space where most companies only placed fifty this book is a revealing insiderʼs view of one of the most fascinating corporations on the planet. Through out the book trends in corporate DNA emerge that makes it pretty clear that Googleʼs secret search algorithms are only one ingredient in the “secret sauce” of their astonishing success.

Doug Edwards writing style is lucid and generally does an excellent job of making sense out of what appeared on the surface to be a fairly incoherent slice of history. Who should read this book? Anyone who is interested in computers and the internet. Anyone who is interested in corporate structure or entrepreneurship. Anyone who is interested in marketing, or the lack thereof. And finally, anyone who is having trouble with any gal named Marissa.

Ronnie Meek is is a guy who likes to share good reads with other people and warn them about boring or bad stuff. His personal blog is It’s In There Somewhere where he is currently blogging through the New Testament.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.