EXCLUSIVE: The founders of Facebook aren’t the only game-changing geeks poised to have their story told on a movie screen. Michael London’s Groundswell Productions has teamed with producer John Morris to acquire movie rights to the Ken Auletta book Googled: The End of the World As We Know it. They will use the book as the blueprint for a feature film that tells the story of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and the fast rise of the juggernaut web business that made them billionaires.
The book was published last fall by Penguin. Auletta, the media columnist for The New Yorker, chronicled a business that grew into a search engine-driven octopus whose $20 billion in ad revenue last year was more than the major broadcast networks combined. CEO Eric Schmidt predicted to Auletta that Google will become the world’s first $100 billion media company.
While the Facebook founder story being told in the upcoming David Fincher-directed The Social Network revolves around a group of Harvard pals who squabbled in success, the Google narrative plays out differently. Google was formed by the duo while they were Stanford Ph.D students who had ideas on how to make a better search engine. They founded Google on principles like “You can make money without doing evil” and “You can be serious without a suit.” London said the movie will focus on how they tried to hang onto their idealism as Google became a global phenomenon. The challenge for London and Morris is to find a handle on a success story that makes for compelling screen drama.
“It’s about these two young guys who created a company that changed the world, and how the world in turn changed them,” London told me. “The heart of the movie is their wonderful edict, don’t be evil. At a certain point in the evolution of a company so big and powerful, there are a million challenges to that mandate. Can you stay true to principles like that as you become as rich and powerful as that company has become? The intention is to be sympathetic to Sergey and Larry, and hopefully the film will be as interesting as the company they created.”
ICM’s Ron Bernstein brokered the book deal with Groundswell’s London and Morris, a hi-tech industry investor and film producer. London and Morris will fund development together. Groundswell is in post production on the Tom McCarthy-directed Win Win, and next releases the Andrew Jarecki-directed All Good Things with Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella starring. Morris produced the Showtime Boris Yeltsin pic Spinning Boris.