Never Lost Again Book Summary - Never Lost Again Book explained in key points
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Never Lost Again summary

Bill Kilday

The Google Mapping Revolution that Sparked New Industries and Augmented Our Reality

4.5 (37 ratings)
19 mins
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    Never Lost Again
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    At the beginning of the Google Maps story is a little start-up called Keyhole.

    On a warm spring day in 1999, Bill Kilday answered a phone call from an old college friend. It was John Hanke, an intellectual whiz kid Kilday had known since freshman year at the University of Texas. There was something John desperately wanted Bill to see.

    Later that day, Bill and his fiancée, Shelley, watched as John set up a computer in their spare room. On the screen was the earth – a blue dot in dark space. Bill and Shelley were unimpressed at first, but then they watched as John zoomed in and zoomed in some more.

    He flew down, like Superman, to the North American continent, then to the USA, then to Austin, Texas, until they were looking at the roof of Bill and Shelley’s own house. Bill and Shelley were astonished. 

    The key message here is: At the beginning of the Google Maps story is a little start-up called Keyhole.

    This demo, called EarthViewer, would one day grow into Google Earth and Google Maps. For now, though, the technology belonged to a small Silicon Valley start-up called Keyhole.

    The company had recently appointed John Hanke as CEO. He led a team of experienced software engineers from a tiny office in Mountain View, California. After John noticed the potential of the EarthViewer project, the company focused all its efforts on making it a success.

    Keyhole’s dream was to create an EarthViewer program that could be run on any computer in the world. But that dream would have to wait, because the technology simply wouldn’t allow for it – at least not yet.

    One area in which they could make progress without delay was data collection. After all, mapping the earth required lots of data. 

    At first, Keyhole used a compilation of free satellite images provided by NASA called Blue Marble. But they soon realized that getting higher-resolution images would mean using photos captured from advanced imaging satellites or low-flying planes.

    This led Keyhole to the work of Airphoto USA, a company run by a long-haired, heavy-drinking biker named J. R. Robertson. With his fleet of fourteen planes, this renegade CEO had mapped many large cities. And with access to these images, Keyhole began the process of mapping the world.

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    What is Never Lost Again about?

    Never Lost Again (2018) details the story of Google Maps and Google Earth – from their origins with Keyhole, a little-known Silicon Valley start-up, to their roll-out under Google in 2005. In addition to following the different characters who made the applications happen, Never Lost Again explores how the world has changed forever since the Google mapping revolution began.

    Who should read Never Lost Again?

    • Anyone interested in Silicon Valley 
    • Coders, software developers, and tech enthusiasts
    • Company leaders looking for an inspiring vision

    About the Author

    Bill Kilday served as marketing director for Keyhole before moving to Google to lead marketing for the launch of Google Maps and Google Earth. He’s currently Vice President of Marketing for Niantic Inc., a Google spinoff responsible for GPS-based games, including Ingress, Pokémon GO, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

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