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THE GOOGLE STORY

By David A. Vise (Pan Books, 2006, 326pp)

The main short-falling of David A. Rise’s account of the rise and rise of the global internet search phenomenon, Google, is the shortness of the story itself and an almost deliberate lack of insight into the more difficult ethical considerations now being asked about the Google business model.

Google has only been around for less than a decade and while its impact on the western world has been astonishing and profound, not too many trials and tribulations have hindered its progress or tested its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. While this is good news for Google (and its shareholders), it doesn’t make compelling reading.

There is no doubt in most people’s minds that Page and Brin are amazingly gifted academic innovators and cutting-edge entrepreneurs. They had the foresight plus immense brainpower to create great search and the gusto to do things their way. But the most interesting part of the Google story will take place over the next ten years, as the founders’ ‘Don’t be evil’ motto is put to the test.

At the moment, Google is closely managed by its two visionary founders and its CEO, Eric Schmidt, who appear to be motivated by an ambition to improve the world, according to their own set of beliefs. However, as a listed company, Google is also accountable to its shareholders. Should something happen to Page and Brin, or should they decide to retire or pursue a new venture, no one is certain how the company would choose to treat the vast amounts of personal data Google automatically collects about its users.

What this account lacks is any detailed insight into the ethical and privacy ramifications of Google’s control over the personal data of hundreds of millions of people around the world and how this will be migrated into less democratic settings, such as China.

This reviewer awaits a sequel… with nervous and bated breath.

HOW TO TURN YOUR MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA INTO A REALITY

By Pete Williams (Wrightbooks, 2006, 258pp)

Pete Williams’ claim to fame is a good one by any account. At the tender age of 21, he sold the MCG.

“What the?!” I hear you ask. “How could he sell this iconic piece of real estate held under public trust?” Well, Williams is no scam artist and his money-making endeavour wasn’t, in fact, the sting of the century, as one might initially suspect.

Following the lead of New Jersey entrepreneur Paul Hartunian (who ‘sold’ the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1990s), Williams could see an opportunity in the redevelopment of the MCG’s Ponsford Stand and the potential resale of its ‘parts’ as framed collectible paraphernalia. After a few phone calls, Williams was in business, soon turning his local basketball court into a factory and his parent’s dining room into a warehouse.

“How to turn your million-dollar business into a reality” is typical of many books of its genre, in that it is based around the successes and failures of its entrepreneurial author. What makes this book stand out is the youth and dynamism of Williams (still in his 20s), coupled with a short and sharp approach to sharing his experiences.

Youthful optimism permeates this book making it fun and ‘moorish’. “How to turn your million-dollar business into a reality” won’t change the world, but it is an inspiring and entertaining read for first time entrepreneurs and seasoned business builders, who want to get their ‘spark’ back. I had fun with this book and I’m sure that many others will also enjoy Williams’ refreshing approach to business development.

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