Last year, Sergey Brin gave a speech at Google Ventures CEO Summit on the value of failing, and how failing fast can be beneficial. One of the subjects that he covered was his original foray into building a Web service some 20 years ago — the service that allowed users to order pizzas by harnessing the Internet to send faxes to pizza shops. In the talk, Brin covers how a single failed fax allowed Google to be born.
The service that Brin and his friends created allowed users to fill out an order for what type of pizza they’d like to consume. The order would then be faxed into the pizza shop – no phone calls required. When testing the service, Brin and friends ordered a pizza from a local shop and waited for the food to be delivered. However, it turned out that most pizza shops simply didn’t check their faxes on a regular basis.
As Brin and friends sat around hungry, the faxed order sat untouched at the shop. When calling the pizza joint a good time later, he was told “let me check the fax machine.” Upon hearing this information, he realized that this idea simply wouldn’t work and moved on to work with Larry Page on data mining and the link structure of the Web.
In the conclusion of the talk, Brin stated that he was glad the fax idea failed quickly so he could move on to bigger and better things instead of working to revolutionize the pizza ordering process.