I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards: a short review

This is a better book than I anticipated. Edwards–one of Google’s earliest hires–was obviously fascinated by Google’s founders, and the culture of the company they created. We watch as they repeatedly reorganize the leadership structure–an important concern for a middle manager–and as the author learns how he can contribute to the company. It’s an interesting, nitty-gritty view of the office (and its politics) from a privileged seat. This is well worth your time.

Google has resemblances to Carnegie Steel. Like Carnegie, Google is closely controlled, respects statistics, and is consciously disruptive. New technology is constantly put in place; failed projects are scrapped and forgotten. The leadership worries a lot about competitors, and embraces change as a competitive tool. Small edges are constantly devised and implemented, while big, industry-changing innovations are rolled out with astonishing regularity. Also: Like Andrew Carnegie, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are kinda preachy, and seem blind to some of the impacts and pitfalls of their colossus.

Andrew Carnegie eventually retired, and worked hard at giving away his fortune. His successors–JP Morgan allies–rebuilt the company into another model. It seems probable that Google will meet a similar fate, and that worries me far more than the casual arrogance of the company founders.

This short review was originally published on LibraryThing.

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