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New Book on Google Reveals Details on China, CEO's Political Donations

'in the plex'In his new book, 'In the Plex,' tech journalist Steven Levy traces the history of Google and exposes some juicy details about the company along the way.

The New York Times recently reviewed an advanced copy of the book, and highlighted some of its most interesting revelations. Eric Schmidt, for example, reportedly wanted to censor some Google search results in order to hide a political donation he made during his tenure as the company's CEO. His plans were derailed, however, when Google exec Sheryl Sandberg said it was "unacceptable," according to the Times. (Company spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker says Schmidt denies Levy's allegations.)

The book takes a close look at Google's operations in China, as well. The company eventually decided to curtail its Chinese operations amid accusations that the government was hacking into activists' Gmail accounts. But according to Levy, Google's problems in China began much earlier. In 2004, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page visited Asia and allegedly behaved like "college backpackers, riding in rickshaws." They were so unpolished, in fact, that former vice president Al Gore felt compelled to intervene, warning them that the Chinese wouldn't appreciate such behavior.

Google never really figured out how to do business in China, either. It fired its head of government relations in China after she gave iPods to government officials and charged the expense to her company account. It also refused to provide its Chinese engineers with access to its base codes, for fear that the engineers would be forced to disclose proprietary information to authorities. Google engineers in China then could not work on developing new products, but were relegated to performing more menial tasks. After the company opened its Google offices, the founders never once visited the country.

'In the Plex' hits stores on April 12.

Tags: book, books, censorship, china, eric schmidt, EricSchmidt, google, larry page, LarryPage, politics, search, sergey brin, SergeyBrin, steven levy, StevenLevy, top, Web