two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
54-Sept-Oct-2011
user_rating: 
0

The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

A-ImFeelingLuckyDouglas Edwards was Google's director of consumer marketing and brand management from 1999 to 2005. He now manages Xooglers, a blog for ex-Google employees.

The Story: Douglas Edwards was 41 years old when he left the San Jose Mercury News to join a financially shaky startup called Google. Founded by Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google rose from its humble beginnings in a rented garage to become a multibillion dollar company. Google was a world away from Edwards's former employer's structured, serious newspaper: he now enjoyed a relaxed company climate that included plenty of junk food and water fights. As employee No. 59, Edwards gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at one of America's most ambitious companies.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 432 pages. $27. ISBN: 9780547416991

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Part of what makes the book so rewarding is Edwards's endlessly nuanced take on his former company and its employees. There's little question Edwards is enamored with Google, but he has no problem relating the organizational difficulties that so often slowed down the enterprise." Jesse Singal

Christian Science Monitor 3.5 of 5 Stars
"I'm Feeling Lucky makes an intriguing corporate biography, diagnosing the leadership styles, daily activities, and often unique ways that a small Internet search company run by a pair of visionary leaders conducted business." Jackson Holahan

Wall Street Journal 2 of 5 Stars
"A weakness is the difficulty he obviously has in sorting the significant from minutiae, with the result that he devotes too much attention to ephemeral bureaucratic tiffs." David A. Price

Telegraph (UK) 2 of 5 Stars
"I'm Feeling Lucky provides few insights. The struggle with Facebook is not there, Gmail is only touched upon, the purchase of YouTube is a footnote." Nicholas Blincoe

San Francisco Chronicle 1.5 of 5 Stars
"[Edwards'] contributions to Google's rise are trifling, as is his book . ... Edwards' memoir fails to deliver because he either doesn't have much to say about his time at Google or he doesn't have the daring to rat out his enemies and friends with honest revelations about the place." Jack Shafer

Critical Summary

Edwards lost his job at Google in 2005 after a reorganization, but readers expecting dirty laundry and salacious details will be disappointed. Unfortunately, those hoping for insight into the company's first years may also be left wanting. Most critics were unimpressed with the minor role Edwards played in the company and found the book filled largely with mundane office details. Only the Boston Globe found it a gripping read. For those interested in Google's meteoric rise, Ken Auletta's Googled and Steven Levy's In the Plex are notable alternatives.