Hectangle

What I Learned From Reading
Every Google Founders' Letter

Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.

Those two sentences in Google’s 2004 Founders’ IPO Letter introduced the company to the public (investor) world.
From its unconventional dutch-auction IPO, to giving employees 20% time to explore any interest related to Google, to balloon-beaming Internet projects, Google, and now Alphabet, has been anything but conventional.
I read every one of Larry and Sergey’s Founders’ Letters dating back to its 2004 IPO and here’s what I learned:

1/ It's search, stupid

Why did Google succeed and endure in the Internet battlefield when almost all other startups have faded into distant memory?
They had a key insight that almost everyone in the world disagreed with! When everyone thought "search" was done (played out) by Yahoo, Altavista, Lycos, Excite, etc., Google realized that it was very much "early days" in this Megatrend that was at the very core of raison d'ĂȘtre of the Internet.

2/ A is for Alphabet

Larry and Sergey mixes a very long term perspective on the business and infinite creative ways to accomplish their objectives.
Many manager work top down where they look for each department to make their numbers every quarter. Google's long term perspective allowed them to not look at quarterly ups and downs but to approach the world from a long form button-up approach. They are able to focus on areas of technology that are both important and difficult and develop original solutions for those areas.

3/ Let a thousand flowers bloom

Larry and Sergey created a behemoth on a single really valuable insight-the PageRank algorithm that ranked websites on relevance based on how many other webpages were linking to it.
But they knew early on that even the most powerful algorithm to organize the more important technology in our lifetimes (the Internet) was not sufficient. From the beginning, Google gave their team members the ability to work on projects outside of search in a 70-20-10 format. Seventy percent of time was spent on core projects, 20% of time was spent on new tangentially related projects and 10% on moonshot ideas. Gmail and many of the tools we find indispensable was a 20% time project.
They also created the financial incentive mechanism to reward the very best new projects through the Founders’ Award Program, where people who created the most new value by taking risks were rewarded with millions of dollars as if they were successful founders.

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