Like many a tech giant, Google is notoriously secretive. But in a Wall Street Journal excerpt from the new book I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59, Douglas Edwards, Google's first "brand manager," offers an exclusive window into life at the company during its early years. He dishes on his unorthodox job interview with Google co-founder Sergey Brin (Brin "bounced on a ball" and casually switched from English to Russian), revisits an ill-advised April Fool's joke that annoyed the search engine's users by claiming to read their minds and then delivering results in a foreign language, and reveals how the Google doodle came to be. Here, an excerpt:
One of the convictions that I brought with me to Google was that you needed to present your company's graphic signature in a monomaniacally consistent manner; to pound it into the public consciousness with a thousand tiny taps, each one exactly the same as the one before.
So when Sergey reminded me that he wanted us to play with Google's signature home-page graphic in 1999, I put my foot down... The logo floating in all that white space was it....
Sergey wasn't convinced.... In May 2000, [illustrator Ian Marsden] created the first Google doodle. It featured — surprise, surprise— aliens making off with our logo.
Our users loved the randomness of the logo artwork and sent us dozens of appreciative emails. Google's brilliant strategy of humanizing an otherwise sterile interface with cute little cartoon creatures was an enormous hit.
It was so blindingly obvious that I was right, yet I was so clearly wrong. Google did that to you — it made you challenge all your assumptions and experience-based ideas until you began to wonder if up was really up, or if it might not actually be a different kind of down.