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March 21, 2007


Jim Bursch

Faith like that is something you develop after months or ... dare I say ... years of turning an idea over and over again in your mind and working on it for hundreds ... dare I say ... thousands of hours.

I think software development lends itself to the development of that kind of faith because the development process, long before it sees the light of day, tests the idea in a very systematic and unforgiving way. Someone who is both the programmer and the founder has their conviction tested and strengthened in a way that would never happen to someone who has to hire a programmer.

I'm writing from my own experience of two years working on my world-changing hair-brained scheme.


Mary Warner

When you're an artist or writer or musician or other creative type, your ideas tell you when it's time to stick or quit. If an idea simply won't let go of you, you keep at it, regardless of whether you're ever going to get any sort of societal or financial payout for the idea. Of course, when you're talking the business world, the game changes and you need the payout in order to keep going.

Seth Godin


Thanks for the kind words so early in the cycle for the book. My thoughts on your riff are here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/the_dip/2007/03/was_google_righ.html. I think the best lesson for now is to be sure your next book has cartoons.

[Saving your readers the click, here's what I said:]
Here's the thing: When Sergey said this, Google wasn't legendary and he wasn't a billionaire. When he said it, Google was just a well-funded startup with a plan. And the plan was to confront the Dip. While other startups were playing it safe, being defensive and watching the cash, Google made a decision: do this to get through the Dip or don't do it at all.

Ironically, Chris made similar decisions with The Long Tail. It would have been easy to publish this book as a normal business book. And it would have hit the wall. Chris embraced the Dip that faces every book and acted instead like his book was surely going to be a record-breaking bestseller. His actions made it likely the book would either fail miserably or succeed magnificently.

As a result of Google's decision, they made counter-intuitive decisions. No ads, for example. No clutter. No popups, no tricky interpretations of privacy policies. Instead, every decision was, "If this is going to be the one and only choice, the best search engine in the world, what should we do?" The feeling was, if they built that, the money would take care of itself. And the investors who bought in were in on the game from the start.

Did they get lucky? You bet. Did it seem arrogant? Sure. But my point is that if they hadn't made those decisions, they would have certainly failed. They would have had no chance to get lucky in the first place if they hadn't embraced the Dip and organized to get through it. I think if you plan on a once-in-a-lifetime success story, it's a lot more likely to happen to you.


"Here's the thing: When Sergey said this, Google wasn't legendary and he wasn't a billionaire. When he said it, Google was just a well-funded startup with a plan."

Right, but you're writing about him because he became legendary and a billionaire. I'm sure there is an enormous number of people out there that have made similar claims that failed.

The problem with most business books is that they seek to teach lessons based on the experiences of exceptional people, while most people are not exceptional. Brin's attitude in this example worked for him because he is exceptional; he's not exceptional because of the attitude.

Steve Shah

Hogwash they didn't have marketing. Google most certainly did have marketing -- just look at their press releases dating back to 1999. (http://googlepress.blogspot.com/)They also had product marketing/manager types that understood how to get the word out in a pragmatic way. For example, early co-branded search made it easy for then hot "portals" to integrate search. With each little search bar you saw "Google", not Yahoo or Altavista, or whoever else we were using at the time. The use of text ads at the time when ads were getting increasingly invasive was another brilliant marketing move. This generated loyalty with the early adopters and IT folks who in turn set their friend's and family's browser homepage to www.google.com instead of Yahoo or CNN. The list of these kinds of activities go on. Being a Sequoia funded company also helps in attracting talent capable of driving marketing programs like this.

To the original point of having over the top faith in your product -- as a founder taking a chance, especially if you're also writing code, you have to have that kind of faith or you aren't going to get far. We all seek and hope to catch the next viral marketing scheme that makes us Skype, but I can tell you that it isn't going to happen without a little marketing...

Karin H.

Hi all

What Google did have was a firm Hedge-hog concept, doing and keep doing what they do best while facing the hard facts but never doubting their believe.
Straight out of "Good to Great" by Jim Collins and co.
That's what made them great at that moment, not luck.

hither anon

Of course they had the concept of marketing back then. Hell, they had a marketing dept. I met with them and Brin around 1999. They didn't buy our emarketing service for pretty much the reasons given above - they were in no hurry to throw gas on the grill. They had confidence that their slow organic burn was not only sufficient but actually the better call. While I would have loved to have had them as a show-piece client, I cannot (and did not) argue with Brin's logic.

Ken O'neill

the marketing started When they named it Google. Then built an easy to use Search engine that was pretty much clutter free. But what pushed google over the edge was the pay per click model. They way they implemented that was the killer app. They didn't even have to market that aspect . Because right away you had internet marketing guys getting people hooked on medels based on Googel ppc.

There was a lot of Marketing for google . Just it was effective marketing not ego marketing . One thing that is almost always true is " one way or the other You pay " . Google Payed to develope a killer product that delivered . Thye may have not payed for ads ,but they payed for their marketing .

John "Z-Bo" Zabroski

Crediting Jobs with Apple's "luck" is a bit myopic, though. Here is how I understand the recent history of Apple (the last five years roughly): The design of all new Apple products is based off the design of the toilets and sinks in Apple's headquarters. These bathrooms were designed by Jonathan Ives design firm. Shortly after the design, Jobs hired Ives full-time. An iPod is actually just a contorted toilet bowl :D iPoo, anybody?

Ken O'Neill is very much correct about "internet marketing guys" getting others hooked on Google's PPC model. Ralph Wilson et al (there are thousands of these "internet marketing guys", Ralph was just one of the earliest) promoted *for them*.

Luck is something more like... OK, you majored in sociology when there was a weak job market for it and now there is a sudden job market for sociologists thanks to social networking sites. Luck is getting paid 150,000 working in IT during the dot com boom (before the bust) and not knowing how to turn on a computer.

John "Z-Bo" Zabroski

@The problem with most business books is that they seek to teach lessons based on the experiences of exceptional people, while most people are not exceptional. Brin's attitude in this example worked for him because he is exceptional; he's not exceptional because of the attitude.

No. The problem with *every* business book is it is teaching you things and unveiling supposed secrets. David Blaine doesn't share the secrets to his greatest magic tricks. Sure, he might explain how to hide a coin in your hand, and most of his "real magic" shows are things that have seemingly impossible market barriors to entry. In other words, one million other people can't duplicate David Blaine even if they knew Blaine's secrets. The moment someone writes about a trick in business, some way to cut expenditures dramatically while not sacrificing quality, others are going to rush to it. Of course, there might be some recognition lag in the marketplace once the book or seminar is out. William Deming is a classic example of the business world facing a recognition lag in response to his great ideas. Cut across the seams, all books function in the same way: exposing concepts successful people use to be successful.

Generally, talent plays the final role, as in the case of David Blaine. That's why Dick Kovacevich would always say as his mantra for Wells Fargo that his employees are his competitive advantage.


Another Google marketing story:

I was an early adopter - used Google since probably early 1998. In ~2000, a Google PR team set up a tent on my university's campus and handed out swag. They would ask passers-by, "Do you Google?" If you didn't know what they were talking about, you got a flyer, but to get swag, you had to go Google your name and bring back a printout of the results page.

If you were already a user, you got cooler swag - Google boxer shorts. I thought this was a pretty brilliant way to drive trial in a targeted way, while rewarding your early adopters. At that time they had a terrific user experience relative to the competition, but low awareness. So Brin is exaggerating a bit - but Google never did buy TV ads or any of that other crazy dot-com stuff.

Bill Hampton

Chris, I hear what you're saying. I will say that sometimes an idea just has the "it" and something tells you to trust in that. Maybe it was one of those moments in that it just felt right to everyone involved, they went with it and it worked. The whole "Blink" thing. Just having that feeling in your gut but not being able to put it into words or a marketing plan.
Amen on the shorter biz books!

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Eben Carlson

Or maybe belief and faith are what others respond to innately?

Certainly quantum physics would tell us that what we think is going to happen--what we believe--is much more powerful than almost any other other single determination.

Maybe we're just a bunch of energetic possibilities debating belief efficiency under the guise of selling each other hot dogs and toe covers.



David Armstrong

Google solved pain.....if more entrepreneurs focused on solving pain instead of copycat me too models...notice I didn't say "business models"...the countless you mention would be less. Where's the discipline? This old school "early adopter" approach is killing startups....get it right and go after the big chunk..people with money that treat their computer like their toaster....push the button and they expect warm brown bread.


Google's simple clutter free page made them the king in search engines. As craigslist is the most popular site for classifieds. It shows people prefer clean, no ads site.

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Google changed too fast for us to be suit for it,i've no idea when and what the next one coming out.
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Seth Godin is one legend marketer. The latter technology is obviously the higher level of technology. But is there an advantage of getting early than others? Even if that means you need to always the first to use it. Updating will be constant anyway.

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Hey thanks for think in other post about Google's case against marketing, this information is very important

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!