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>...

...provide search results to Yahoo, whose size at the time far outstripped that of the fledgling Google.

Agreeing to serve Yahoo meant upgrading Google's systems to handle a tenfold increase in visitor traffic at a time when the company was also expanding the number of sites it indexed from millions to one billion - all which had to be achieved within months.

Yet Google pulled it off, and Edwards writes about the exponential growth in traffic and revenue as the company bested each major challenge thrown at it - by dint of ingenuity, self reliance and the willingness of its staff to forgo sleep.

Working at the Googleplex

Google's perks are well known. During Edwards' time at the company, they were extraordinary even by Silicon Valley's standards - the masseurs, the company doctor, company car wash, hairdressers, free breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked by the ex-chef to the Grateful Dead, games consoles, free soft drinks, sweets, new tech kit available on demand - the list goes on.

Google Mountain View cafe

Some of the tasty treats on offer at Google's Mountain View headquarters todayPhoto: Google

But there was a reason Google provided so many everyday necessities on site - working at Google was a 24/7 commitment, with Edwards typically arriving at the Googleplex at the crack of dawn and working late into the night.

"They reduce the friction of everyday life, of having to go out to get a doctor's appointment for a physical or to get your car washed," Edwards said.

"I know people who didn't go shopping for years because their every meal was at Google - think how much time that saves.

"If they could have put dormitories into the building, people would have lived there.

"Google tried to smooth over all those things that slow you down during everyday existence so you could move more smoothly through the day - what that meant was that you were freed up with more time to engage with projects at work."

Having to learn everything afresh

Upon entering Google from the corporate world, Edwards found himself having to reassess everything he learnt as a marketing executive for the San Jose Mercury News.

As well as adjusting to the flat corporate structure, where "ideas ruled over age or experience", Page and Brin had a wilful disregard for traditional ideas of how a business should be run.

Edwards writes of his horror at...