Play it loud: Google employee 59 on the Bob Dylan attitude of Google's early days

Interview: Doug Edwards, author of <em>I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59</em>...

...problems with communication - the founders' inability to clearly communicate their latest grand vision to the rest of the company.

In the book, Edwards recounts how Brin once rejected an ad campaign saying simply, "You need to think about it some more" and, when asked to clarify what he didn't like about it, simply repeated the statement.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the company in 1996Photo: Google

"Larry and Sergey never seemed to feel it was worth their time to put the effort into explaining what they were doing. [Their attitude was] it was so self-evident that you should be able to figure it out for yourself," Edwards said.

For Edwards, the appointment of Eric Schmidt as CEO in 2001, a role he has since stepped down from, relieved some of the frustration of trying to second-guess his bosses' grand plan.

"When Eric Schmidt came in he added this layer of transparency. In the book I call him a good UI for the employees in the company [to what Page and Brin were thinking]. Eric was much more adept at internal communications and communication with the outside world," he said.

What it means to have worked at Google

Google might not have been the easiest company to work for but, the way Edwards describes it, life was rarely dull - where else would one of the company co-founders interrupt a meeting to suggest discussing space tethers?

"It's a cliché but the thing I'll miss the most is the conversations I had with the people there - the notion that you could start talking to anybody and learn something," Edwards said.

When he left the company in 2005, Edwards departed with far more than just fond memories of his co-workers, however.

Not long after joining, Edwards was given the chance to buy stock in Google, and he decided to invest at the price of 20 cents a share. Today, shares in Google sell for more than $600 each.

He won't specify how much money he walked away with, preferring instead to simply say: "I made enough that I'm able to select the projects that I work on going forward."

If anyone has earned the right to title their book I'm Feeling Lucky, it's Edwards.


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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