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Author Auletta Dissects Global Impact of Google

Jeffrey Brown speaks with author Ken Auletta about his new book on Internet powerhouse Google called 'Googled: The End of the World as We Know It.'

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Think of Google as a verb, something that millions of us now do routinely when we need some bit of information, or as a noun, the 11-year-old company founded by two Stanford students, or as a kind of brand, standing for an enormously changing universe of digital media.

    The new book, "Googled: The End of the World as We Know It," explores all three of these. Its author is Ken Auletta, longtime writer for The New Yorker and author of numerous other books on media and business. Welcome to you.

  • KEN AULETTA:

    Thank you.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    You went into this knowing that this company was a phenomenon, what you call a wave-maker. But, after all the reporting, what's the key to its success? What — what makes it so?

  • KEN AULETTA:

    Well, I think they start from an attitude that things are done inefficiently, particularly in the media world, be it advertising, or newspapers, or magazines, or television, or — or Microsoft, packaged software. And then the engineer comes in. And the engineer is really key, because they're the Martin Scorsese. They're the content creators. They're the people who create things, applications, et cetera.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Engineer is king at this place?

  • KEN AULETTA:

    They are. And they start with the single question, which is, why? Why can't we sell ads more cheaply and tell the advertiser who — who they're reaching with those ads and charge them only when they click? Why can't we do news — Google News online, and get away all — from all the costs of those printed newspapers and distribution systems? Why do we have to sell packaged software, as Microsoft does, in expensive packages? Why can't we do — quote — "cloud computing"? Why can't we have cheaper telephone service?

    They do all these things. And, in the process, the engineers have created a conflict with existing media businesses.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Well, so — but, staying within the company here, I mean, there is this ethos of almost intellectual play which you describe, letting the engineers ask these questions…

  • KEN AULETTA:

    Right. Right.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … at the same time as growing a business.

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