4 Things We Can Learn From 'The Google Story'

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Steve Case, co-founder and at one point chief executive officer and chairman of America Online once remarked, “Ultimately the Google story is about product.” Here we discuss several things that you can learn from Google’s history and some that are readily apparent even by giving the search engine a superficial look.
1. Simplicity and Focus: Though widely acknowledged as providing the best search results, there is another important reason why people choose to continue using Google. If you look at the site’s homepage, the company doesn’t focus on the other services it provides as emphatically as other search engines. While other companies decided that while they would provide search, they were more interested in becoming portals and would generate revenue from a mix of these other more important services, Google has kept it simple from the beginning. They provide other services but the focus is on search.
2. Foresight: Historically, search had always been considered a commodity and an ancillary service that would help customers but not bring any substantial revenue to the search engine. Credit goes to Sergey and Larry for recognizing the importance of search on its own and working to build the best search engine in the world in a market that hadn’t been realized at that time. Though it wasn’t clear how they would monetize their product in the beginning, this did not prevent them from furthering their goal.
3. Word of Mouth: Google is famous for being one the largest and one of the most successful companies that has relied on word of mouth for marketing itself. While other companies pour in millions of dollars to advertise their product, Google has always believed that the search engine’s superiority will result in word of mouth advertising which they rely on to sustain growth, giving credence to the belief that if you build a good product, the audience will come.
4. The Product: The results of the emphasis on simply building the best product in the marketplace is evident throughout Google’s history. Even though these companies were and continue to be its rivals, Google has at one point or another worked with and provided services to Yahoo for search technology and Ask.com for advertising technology simply because the search engine built a better product that the other companies realized they could benefit from.
These are only a few of the many lessons you can learn from Google and are a result of a book I’m currently reading, aptly called ‘The Google Story’.

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  • RustyS

    Google keeps their focus on search for a reason. It’s their core competency for sure. But that’s also where their strongest revenue stream comes from.
    As their revenue stream becomes increasingly spread out (as it has over the last 18 months and will continue to do in the future) they’re gradually pushing toward a portal-like stance with things like iGoogle. A lot of people still love the simplicity, but toolbars and integrated search boxes within all newer browsers makes direct access to basic search increasingly less critical.
    And when talking about product people always overlook their other main product – their advertising platform. Having a great, functional service is one thing. Being able to monetize it with a system that can scale with your future growth and then retooling it to branch off into other realms (as they did with AdSense) is what made them into the colossus they are today. So many of the current hot web properties (including the site du jour, Facebook) don’t have that same financial backbone.

  • http://www.engineworks.com Kent schnepp

    I just finished ready “The Google Story” by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed. Great book! I agree with all of your points, but I believe #1 to be the reason for success. Specifically focus. Throughout the startup phase Google’s founders were 100% committed to building a better search engine. They took a rational, methodical approach and succeeded.
    I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, entertaining read.