Ohh! Can't wait to read it.

Ohh! Can't wait to read it.

Originally shared by Bill Kilday

A project I started @SXSW three years ago is finally here. A book about the origins of Google Maps and Google Earth, being published by HarperCollins on May 29. Follow this page for snippets from the book and launch events details. Pre-order your copy today!


Spoiler alert - this is from the last chapter:

...As we crossed over the lake and made the turn onto the four-mile loop, I finally get up the gumption to tell John about a project I’ve been thinking about since the reunion. A book. This book. I was nervous how he would react, as he was anathema to talk about himself and the past. But he was surprisingly positive.

“It’s a story that should be told, and you might just be the perfect person to tell it. You were there to witness it all,” John said.

When I told John that I plan to end the book in 2006, when I leave the Google Geo team, he said, “No, you should write all of it. The whole story. Someone needs to.”

Immediately I began peppering him with questions about Street View and Ground Truth. Within half a mile, John had picked up his pace. It was clear to me that when he said, “You should write it,” he might as well have said, “You—not me—should write it.” In case I didn’t get the hint, John held up his hand and said flatly, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” We finished the run in silence.

Standing next to his rental car, John threw on a dry T-shirt for his long drive to Cross Plains. “You have to understand,” he said, “a lot of what we went through was not all that pleasant for me. The delayed payrolls, the lawsuit, the late vendor payments at Keyhole. And then the turf wars with Brett and Marissa, and product battles internally at Google. The long hours. It was hard on me. It was hard on Holly. It’s hard for me to put myself back there. Plus, I’d rather think about the future, and what’s next. What’s coming. Not the past.”

It was clear then that if I wrote this book, it would largely be without John’s help.

In spring of 2015, Austin was a big city, with real traffic, major construction projects, and road closures for SXSW. John settled into his rental car. Forgetting who I was talking to for a minute, I asked, “Okay, do you know how to navigate back out to Mopac and onto 183?” Like everyone else, John had focused his attention on his phone.

He waved me off with a smile. “No thanks. I think I got it.”

He finished typing Cross Plains into Google Maps—and hit GO.