It’s probably safe to say that nobody really knows what goes on inside the minds of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, but author Richard L. Brandt certainly tries with his book, “Inside Larry and Sergey’s Brain“.
I first wrote about wanting to review the book months ago, and finally got down to completing what is certainly an eye-opening read.
Brandt looks at Page’s and Brin’s backgrounds, their academic brilliance as well as their humble beginnings as Internet entrepreneurs. Note to startup founders – if there is one key takeaway from this book, who you start your company with matters a big deal. Brandt highlights the incredible synergy between the two founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and how well they complement each others’ strengths. He’s also quick to show that the Google founders also understood their weaknesses, hence the hiring of the seasoned Eric Schmidt as CEO.
Brandt constantly portrays Brin and Page as misunderstood geek geniuses – i.e. the world just ‘doesn’t get them’. Two cases in point. The first is Google‘s contentious “Don’t Be Evil” motto, which has been hotly criticized by detractors (such as Apple‘s CEO Steve Jobs, who allegedly called Google’s motto “bullshit” during one of their recent townhall meetings at One Infinite Loop).
The other is Google‘s operations in China, which Brandt explores in some detail. This has come to the fore recently, with Google getting into the news for all the wrong reasons recently over its spat with China. Incidentally, you can read an interview with Sergey Brin by Chris Anderson of TED for more on Google in China.
Google’s Place In History
I love the way Brandt juxtaposes his narrative with the story of the Library of Alexandria, and compares the search giant to the ancient center of intellectual thought in Egypt that reigned as the greatest library in the world until its destruction.
One thing is for sure – Google has certainly cemented itself in the history books. If history is written by the victors, the path to victory is also littered with the detritus of many dead Internet search engines – those who never had the fortune of tapping inside Larry & Sergey’s brains.