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What Would Google Do?

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  9,851 ratings  ·  391 reviews
“Eye-opening, thought-provoking, and enlightening.”
USA Today

“An indispensable guide to the business logic of the networked era.”
—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody

“A stimulating exercise in thinking really, really big.”
San Jose Mercury News

What Would Google Do? is an indispensable manual for survival and success in today’s internet-driven marketplace. By “revers
Hardcover, 426 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Harper Business
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  9,851 ratings  ·  391 reviews

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Riku Sayuj
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
How would Google run the world? How would everything look if every industry, every social activity was "googley"?

Everything would be more open, collaborative and fun, that is how. The book might be masked as an exploration of a successful way of doing things, but in reality it a call for the open-source "gift" economy in which everyone participates to create great value. It makes sense too, for much of it.

Apple posed some problems for the author though. Apparently non-open-source can also work
Ryan Chapman
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Ryan by: Ami
Shelves: nonfiction
It may be unfair to give this book a rating since I couldn't finish it. For all I know, my complaints were resolved in the second half. So with that in mind...

It was interesting to read this book soon after a reread of Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, as both are recent offerings by major publishers on our changing internet culture. However the strengths of Shirky's book and the faults in this one can be traced, I believe, to the two men's backgrounds. Shirky has been a professor at NYU for
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
There's this example What Would Google Do? where Jarvis talks about how newspapers could respond to Huffington Post setting up a new blogging venture in Chicago. He basically says that they should become their new best friend - forget that they are competition and think long term. They'd get more out of magnanimity than being territorial.

But, he concludes, it doesn't matter because "news organizations don't yet think that way." The thing is, no one does. People, like Marcus Aurelius said, are "m
Patrik Hallberg
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great book, don't get me wrong I have no clue why I started reading this book in 2013 and just finished it now in 2019, 6 years later.
On the contrary, I wish I would have read it in 2009 when it was published and used in my work since then and maybe even invested in Google back then.
What strikes me however is how valid this book still is and how it connects with many other books I have read during 2019 or is currently reading.

Jarvis goes through many different areas and sectors and tr
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, non-fiction
"Google is an avalanche and it has only just begun to tumble down the mountain."
The world wide web is an amazing phenomena in the way that religion is a phenomena. You may love it, you may hate it or you may be somewhere inbetween. Regardless where you are in that spectrum it is here and like religion it is powerful so we might as well try to learn about it. At first I thought this book was going to be about as exciting as the manual that used to come in the box with a new computer but it's way
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Although I think this book is about 50 pages too long, I still highly recommend it to anyone trying to understand modern economy and culture. I was afraid that it would be a big bowing down to Google, which I see enough of in my career. It isn't. Instead, it is a series of case studies proving how companies like Google are leading a civil movement against closed-system corporation culture.

I didn't feel like I needed this paradigm applied to so many industries. Jarvis uses the Google template to
Chris Cahill
Aug 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Never before have I wanted to burn a book once I finished it.

I bought this at a charity shop to see what an outsider's perspective from 2011 matched with my insider's perspective in 2015. Unfortunately, Jarvis' canonization of the all holy "link" and constant chset-pumping of his own resume make me want to save anyone else from wasting their time with this trash. The only friend I would give this book to would be someone I know to be a true masochist.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I will use this book in my future entrepreneurial journalism course, and possibly social media as well - which is saying a lot, because I rarely add new required texts.

If you read Jarvis' blog/follow him on Twitter etc. and are generally well-read when it comes to digital disruption, there isn't much new here - but it's still an excellent, clear summary of the way not just Google but social media and the web more generally are changing many industries, including journalism, media, and education
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't tell you how happy I am to be done with this book. Since I cannot let a book go without finishing it, this one became an obstacle that prevented me from moving on to other books. It was so repetitive and hollow that I wanted to punch the author for wasting my time and money.

The main idea of the book is really interesting and worth delving into, because what Google does is truly great. But Jarvis shouldn't be an author, or, he shouldn't write books. I'm sure he's doing fine writing his bl
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This might be my favorite read so far of 2009 (although I thoroughly enjoyed Outliers and Here Comes Everybody as well). I love discussing creative disruption and this book is full of that. While some of the best ideas aren't Jeff's (Umair Haque and Fred Wilson are heavy influences and mentioned repeatedly in the book) for me it didn't much matter because of the importance and timeliness of the subject matter. If you're entrepreneur you have to read this book. ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Google is the biggest company of our generation. “Hey google” is the easiest way to get an answer whether you're on your phone or computer.

In 2009 Jeff Jarvis wrote a book exploring the principles that made google a success and how those could be applied to other businesses.

Jarvis explored how other industries could be “Googlefied.” Jarvis looks at all the major industries from Airlines to Soda manufactures and asks how they can be more like Google. He provides ideas and insights for a wide ra
Antonia Munteanu
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think it is a good start to better understand how Google works. It is not a black hole where all our information goes, behind it were people that made the decisions on how to simulate artificial intelligence.
My granny was using Google and was always seeing it like a wise friend. This book give her an understanding on what it is behind the click, each commercial that you get depending on gender and so on.

I did not read any similar books so this makes it hard to rate it by comparison. Hope thi
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Posted on my blog at

I recently finished reading the book "What Would Google Do?" by author/blogger/journalist Jeff Jarvis. Jarvis is probably recognized primarily as proprietor of the popular blog I had an interest in this book right from the start because I am fascinated with the approach Google takes to everything they do: Offering premium services for free and finding alternative ways to make their money. A lot of money.

Without giving too much
Jul 18, 2010 rated it liked it
It should be 3.5 stars out of 5 (or somewhere between 3-4 stars).

In this book, author Jeff Harvis of, discusses the concept of "Googlethink". He takes Google and studies what made today's huge company, an enormously successful organization and how that success can be transferred to other industries.

The book is divided into 2 parts. The first of which is the answer to "What/Why?" as in "What/Why is Google successful?". Jeff discusses the concepts of "Googlethink" and "Googlejuice"
Oct 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is written in two parts. The first outlines the rules for how Google works and is so successful in a digital economy. In essence, he reverse engineers the company. The second part of the book applies these rules to show how different industries can apply these rules to move from being atom-based to being digital, to moving from profiting from scarcity to profiting from abundance.

I find the author's cautious but enthusiastic optimism refreshing. So many times these types of books tend t
Mar 25, 2009 rated it liked it
I have to admit that the title of this book put me off from the start. Could it be a serious book based on a blatant rip off of WWJD. So I was a bit grumpy to start with, but the author won me over by the end of the book.

Jarvis does a pretty good job of pulling apart some of the things that Google has done and tries to apply it to other industries.

Google is perhaps give a bit too much credit as being the saviour of all businesses. Google got lucky with Adsense - it was a search company without a
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, audiobook
While the title implies that this is a book about the Internet, this book really covers a much broader topic: This is a book for all types of businesses; restaurants, airlines, real estate companies, computer manufacturers, you name it. Its subject is about figuring out what business a company is really in, and then serving its real customers. Many large companies flail around because they cannot decide on what their real products and services are. The book is about building trust in one's compa ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Everything in this book is at least 10 years old and in the world of the Internet that is an eternity. Pretty much everything he is saying that is so revolutionary in this book has been standard business practice for many many years and is obvious. He says the word blog about 1000 times in the first few chapters and I couldn’t take it anymore. I quit reading it after two chapters.

The story about Dell and they’re supposed turn around is BS because even though they went out and fixed problems for
I love this book -- it is why I selected it for Federal News Radio 1500 AM's Federal News Radio Book Club next month.

In the end, this book isn't really about Google. It is about being agile and sharing information and how to operate in a very new and very competitive world.

I think it particularly speaks to government, which could use some new ways of thinking.

Not all of these ideas are brand new, but Jarvis does a good job building and adding to what has been out there... and fleshing out these
Jinsong Zhang
Aug 09, 2013 rated it liked it
A good one to read, and like many of Jeff's ideas.
Quotable quotes:
Do what you do best and link to the rest
When you complain make sure you are giving a gift
At Google, we are the God, and our data is the bible

But could hardly agree that life is a beta. Life is never something one can come back to fix. Rather it is a road taken or not taken:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference(Robert Frost).
Tim Kubiak
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
A quick easy read with a some interesting comparisons of how google and ultimately the internet will open up industries. There were several references to Clue Train Manifesto and many of the positions reminded me of segments of Wikinomics and Naked Conversations but still was worth the time to read.

If nothing else it will force you to look at inefficient business processes and the business of innovation itself.
Michael Carnell
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Geeks, new media types, and business folks
Hard to give the one a rating. Jeff Jarvis is a brilliant guy and he has some really good insights into Google. The only problem is he tends to repeat himself in the book. Once his point is made, he makes it over and over again. I would recommend really reading the first third, lightly reading the second third, and skimming the final third.
Jacob Senholt
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, danish
Didn't have many expectations for this book, but it actually ended up giving me quite a few ideas. The last chapter on 'generation g', also brings up some interesting perspectives about the future of the modern world, and especially how technology changes the way we interact and think (resulting in future changes, 'power to the people' etc. as currently evidenced in the Arab Spring risings). ...more
Lindley Walter-smith
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
I managed to slog through this for a Coursera course, but it seems badly thought out and embarrassingly fanboyish about Google, Apple (for some reason) and himself (the whole Dell Hell thing), while gliding over any complications.
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Maybe a bit overoptimistic and too enthusiastic about technology but still an interesting read
Rushay Booysen
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book dissect how google and other technology platforms basically transformed everything as we know it.Was a real informative read and alters ones approach to conventional ism
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent. I feel like we all think we know how Google works. Simple, smart and “do no evil”. I learned a lot with this and it was very readable – this is what I am looking for when I read non-fiction. I learn a lot from reading scientific papers but they can be too taxing as they’re usually ostentatious and dryly written. Fiction tends to be easier to follow but I tend to learn less.

Google, like Amazon, found opportunity in very low profit margins. The internet as a platform is huge, so as long
Animekh Misra
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Occasionally funny, this book is oriented towards business and corporate heads who wish to transform their business.

The books urges you to take bold decisions (like Google would), and radically change your company. That is easier said than done. This book is only assumptions of what could be, and sadly, missing any sort of thorough study on what is. This is what made the book unreadable for me.

After losing interest over a few chapters, my interest regained after Mark Zuckerberg's story of his Ha
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis, is a book analyzing the current marketplace, with the introduction of the internet and google. It breaks down how google became successful. It references how other companies became successful as well. The main message of the book is to let the customers have the power, and don’t hide things from them. Google was one of the first companies to do this, and set in motion this new form of thinking. Old companies, who have stuck with their old philosophy ...more
Alex Shaikh
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Seriously the author Jeff Jarvis is in love with Google like I am but Jeff is more like obsessed with Google. If Google was a person, Jeff will be the stalker. I believe this is a profound book about changes in the business world created by continued advancement of the information age. The book as I read it, really is not about Google, per se. Instead it is a thoughtful discussion as to how all kinds of businesses will be impacted by the forces on which Google has so brilliantly capitalized. Ove ...more
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Jeff Jarvis is an American journalist writing for publications such as New York Daily News, the San Francisco Examiner, and The Guardian. In 2006 he became an associate professor at City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, directing its new media program. He is a co-host on This Week in Google, a show on the TWiT Network.

Picture by Robert Scoble

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