Ideas come from everywhere.
"We have this great internal list where
people post new ideas and everyone can go on and see them. It's like
a voting pool where you can say
how good or bad you think an idea is. Those comments lead to new
Share whatever you can.
Every idea, every
project, every deadline – it's all accessible to everyone on the
"People are blown away by the
information you can get on MOMA, our intranet. Because there is so
much information shared across the company, employees have insight
into what's happening with the business and what's important. We
also have people do things like Snippets. Every Monday, all the
employees write an email that has five to seven bullet points on
what you did the previous week. Being a search company, we take all
the emails and make a giant Web page and index them. If you're
wondering, 'Who's working on maps?' you can find out. It allows us
to share what we know across the whole company, and it reduces
You're brilliant, we're hiring.
Hire not just the best but the most brilliant.
"When I was a grad student at Stanford,
I saw that phrase on a flyer for another company in the basement of
the computer-science building. It made me stop dead in my tracks and
laugh out loud. A couple of months later, I'm working at Google, and
the engineers were asked to write job ads for engineers. We had a
contest. I put, 'You're brilliant? We're hiring. Come work at
Google,' and got eight times the click rate that anyone else got.
Google now has a thousand times as many
people as when I started, which is just staggering to me. What's
remarkable, though, is what hasn't changed--the types of people who
work here and the types of things that they like to work on. It's
almost identical to the first 20 or so of us at Google. There is
this amazing element to the
of wanting to
work on big problems
that matter, wanting to do great things for the world, believing
that we can build a successful business without compromising our
If I'm an
entrepreneur and I want to
start a Web site, I need a billing system. Oh, there's Google
Checkout. I need a mapping function. Oh, there's Google Maps. Okay,
I need to monetize. There's Google AdSense, right? I need a user
name and password-authentication system. There's Google Accounts.
This is just way easier than going out and trying to create all of
that from scratch. That's how we're going to stay
We're going to continue to attract
say, 'I found an idea, and I can go to Google and have a demo in a
month and be launched in six.'"
A license to pursue
Employees get a "free" day a week. Half of new launches come
from this "20% time.
"Since around 2000, we let engineers
spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust
that they'll build interesting things. After September 11, one of
our researchers, Krishna Bharat, would go to 10 or 15 news sites
each day looking for information about the case. And he thought, Why
don't I write a program to do this? So Krishna, who's an expert in
artificial intelligence, used a Web crawler to cluster articles. He
later emailed it around the company. My office mate and I got it,
and we were like, 'This isn't just a cool little tool for Krishna.
We could add more sources and build this into a great product.'
That's how Google News came about. Krishna did not intend to build a
product, but he accidentally gave us the idea for one."
Innovation, not instant
Google launches early and often in small beta tests before
releasing new features widely.
"There are two different types of
programmers. Some like to code for months or even years, and hope
they will have built the perfect product. That's castle building.
Companies work this way, too.
Apple is great at it. If you get it right and you've built just
the perfect thing, you get this worldwide 'Wow!' The problem is, if
you get it wrong, you get a thud, a thud in which you've spent,
like, five years and 100 people on something the market doesn't
want. Others prefer to have something working at the end of the day,
something to refine and
the next day. That's what we do: our 'launch early and often'
The hardest part about indoctrinating people into our culture is
when engineers show me a
prototype and I'm like, 'Great, let's go!' They'll say, 'Oh, no,
it's not ready. It's not up to Google standards. This doesn't look
like a Google product yet.' They want to castle-build and do all
these other features and make it all perfect. I tell them, 'The
Googly thing is to launch it early on Google Labs and then iterate,
learning what the market wants--and making it great.' The beauty of
experimenting in this way is that you never get too far from what
the market wants. The market pulls you back."
Focus on data, not politics.
Don't use "I
like" in meetings, push staffers to use metrics.
"When I meet people who run
design at other organizations, they're always like, 'Design is
one of the most political areas of the company. This designer likes
green and that one likes purple, and whose design gets picked? The
one who buddies up to the boss.'
Some companies think of design as an
art. We think of design as a science. It doesn't matter who is the
favorite or how much you like this aesthetic versus that aesthetic.
It all comes down to data. Run a 1% test [on 1% of the audience] and
whichever design does best against the
user-happiness metrics over a two-week period is the one we
launch. We have a very academic environment where we're looking at
data all the time.
We probably have somewhere between 50
running on live traffic, everything from the default number of
results to underlined links to how big an arrow should be. We're
trying all those different things."
rules about how to get there and deadlines.
"This is one of my favorites. People
creativity as this sort of unbridled thing, but engineers thrive
on constraints. They love to think their way out of that little box:
'We know you said it was impossible, but
we're going to do this,
this, and that to get us there.'"
Worry about usage and users, not money.
simple to use and easy to love.
The money will
"I used to call this 'Users, Not
Money.' We believe that if we focus on the users, the money will
come. In a truly virtual business, if you're successful, you'll be
working at something that's so necessary people will pay for it in
subscription form. Or you'll have so many users that advertisers
will pay to sponsor the site."
Don't kill projects. Morph them.
There's always a kernel of something good that can be salvaged.
"Eric [Schmidt, CEO] made this
observation to me once, which I think is accurate: Any
that is good enough to make it to Labs probably has a kernel of
something interesting in there somewhere, even if the market doesn't
respond to it. It's our job to take the product and morph it into
the market needs."