In the Plex | Steven Levy | Talks at Google | Summary and Q&A

May 24, 2011
Talks at Google
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In the Plex | Steven Levy | Talks at Google


Stephen Levy provides an inside look at Google, highlighting the company's emphasis on data-driven decision making and transparency, while also addressing challenges such as privacy concerns and product failures.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did Levy gain access to Google and what influenced his decision to write a book about the company?

Levy gained access through a trip with the Associated Product Managers and spent time with Google executives and engineers. He was inspired to write the book to provide an inside look at the company's culture and innovations.

Q: How did Google handle the privacy concerns surrounding its products, such as Gmail and Latitude?

Google addressed privacy concerns by being transparent about data collection and implementing opt-in features. For example, Latitude included reminders and notifications to ensure users were aware of the information being shared.

Q: Did Levy notice any flaws in Google's approach to product development or decision making?

Levy highlighted that sometimes Google's emphasis on data and engineering talent can lead to the neglect of certain projects or a lack of support for successful products. However, he also acknowledged that the company's risk-taking approach is necessary for innovation.

Q: How does Google compare to other tech giants, such as Apple, in terms of transparency and product development?

Levy noted that Google's transparency sets it apart, as the company values openness and sharing of information internally. However, writing a book about Apple would be more challenging due to its closed culture and limited access to key individuals.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Levy gained unprecedented access to Google, allowing him to immerse himself in the company's culture and capture unique insights.

  • He focused on telling the Google story from the inside out, taking a behind-the-scenes approach to understand the company's innovations and challenges.

  • Levy noticed that Google's success is attributed to its emphasis on data-driven decision making, transparency within the company, and a culture that values engineering talent.

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