Written by Charles Davies. Originally shared by email.
Really amazing article about Larry Page and Google.
It reads like a perfect case study on source.
The only missing bit is an understanding of source.
I’ve gathered together some of the most pertinent quotes below.
I really recommend the whole article tho.
There’s a great bit about Larry Page basically having to leave Google (where his ‘sourceness’ was crushed), turn the Android operating system into a massive success outside the building, reconnect with his ‘sourceness’ (like Jobs did at Pixar) – and then come back and wipe the floor with everyone who was telling him he couldn’t have his own way before he ‘left’. The article attributes it to Page maturing and gaining ‘confidence in his executive abilities’, but I think it’s a far more compelling explanation to see it as him reconnecting to his creative source.
Larry Page is the source (and no one at Google knows what that means)
“Page, then a 22-year-old graduate student at Stanford, was struck in the middle of the night with a vision.”
“By August 2001, Schmidt … became Google’s CEO — so-called adult supervision for Page and his co-founder, Brin. And for a long time, Larry Page was very unhappy.”
“Google hired Schmidt. He joined as chairman in March 2001 and became CEO in August. Page went along with the arrangement but wasn’t happy about it. He fretted about his place in the new hierarchy — his title would be president of products — and even began to wonder if he’d become unnecessary to the company he’d founded.”
“Larry Page is the Steve Jobs of Google… Like Jobs, Page has a co-founder, Sergey Brin, but Page has always been his company’s true visionary and driving force. And just as Apple’s investors threw Jobs out of his company, Google’s investors ignored Page’s wishes and forced him to hire a CEO to be adult supervision. Both then underwent a long period in the wilderness. Steve Jobs’ banishment was more severe, but Page also spent years at a remove from the day-to-day world of Google.”
“Everyone inside Google still regarded Larry Page as their ultimate boss. He approved every hire, and it was his signature on the day of Google’s initial public offering, Aug. 19, 2004, that turned hundreds of people into millionaires — and Page himself into a billionaire. But gradually Page became a more distant, remote figure. To use a metaphor from Google’s earlier years, Page was no longer driving the van. He’d hired a driver and was daydreaming in the back.”
“Google incorporated on Sept. 4, 1998 — two years after the idea of ranking Web pages by their inbound links came to Page in a dream. He made himself CEO, and his best friend, Sergey Brin, was named co-founder.”
“While Google is often thought of as the invention of two young computer whizzes — Sergey and Larry, Larryand Sergey — the truth is that Google is a creation of Larry Page, helped along by Sergey Brin.”
And when the role of source is really working….
One day in late 1998, Google’s first HR boss, Heather Cairns, walked into the company’s garage office and caught Larry Page and Sergey Brin playing with Legos.
“What the hell are you doing?” Cairns asked, in her brassy but congenial way. The contraption on the table in front of Page had robot arms with rubber wheels at the end of them.
“We’re trying to figure out how to turn a page of a book without a human hand,” Page explained. “Someday we’re going to put every publication in the world on the Internet so everybody has access to it.”
“Sure,” Cairns said. “Sure.”
Not long after that, Page spent an entire day driving around Palo Alto with a small handheld camera. He’d drive for a few feet, and then stop and take a few pictures. Then he’d drive another few feet and do it again. He came home and uploaded the pictures to his computer. What he saw convinced him his latest big idea was feasible. Google could put a number of cameras on a number of cars and drive every street in the world, photographing all the way. The result would be a digital, searchable representation of the entire physical world — or the most relevant parts of it — available online.
During the Schmidt years, both the books and the photo project would become popular Google products. Google Books, launched in 2003, has come to encompass 20 million volumes, and it continues to grow. Google Street launched in 2007, and by 2014, made every thoroughfare in 50 countries viewable from almost every Web browser on the planet.”