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Welcome to Google World

  • Darren Waters
  • 6 Mar 07, 02:16 AM

A beach volleyball court, a dinosaur skeleton and gaudy parasols aplenty - it must be the Google campus.

On the way over in a cab the driver gave me a clear indication of how Google had grown.

"A few years ago there was just one building I took people to, now they own the whole town."

dino_google.jpg

That is something of an exaggeration but the Google real-estate empire does extend quite a way down the length of one of the main arteries in Mountain View.

I am visiting Building 43 - which also gives a sense of how much the Mountain View "start-up" has grown.

Ostensibly I am here to meet with Chris Dibona, the firm's head of open source - and I'll be writing a feature based on our interview - but it's also a good opportunity to gawp from inside of the perimeter of one of the world's most powerful firms.

Everything about Google screams transparency - the buildings are "guarded" by a single security officer outside each building, who sits beneath a Google-monikered parasol.

There is an abundance of open space, courtyards, quadrangles, forums, and the buildings themselves are uncluttered, mixing functionality and hi-tech feng shui. Staff whizz between buildings on electric mini-scooters.

White boards are dotted throughout and the famous "help yourself" juice counters are also in evidence.

Lunch is free for employees and there's more choice than one would find in a small town.

Everywhere there are examples of the legendary 20% scheme that Google operates - letting engineers spend a fifth of their time pursuing personal projects.

On one plasma screen a spinning globe shows search engine queries to Google made in real time - Google is global, the globe is Google's is the message. It was created by one of the engineers in his 20% time.

Visiting authors have signed a near-by white board, among them Stephen Levy and what looks like Neil Gaiman. Hanging from the ceiling is a replica of SpaceshipOne..... At least I think it is a replica....

The Google empire also extends to the airwaves of Mountain View - the wi-fi variety anyway.

Open a laptop in Mountain View anywhere and you are invited to join the free Google wi-fi network.

It's a municipal wi-fi service that brings the on-demand world to everyone, everywhere in the city environs.

It's a transformative technology and one being adopted across the US - San Francisco will soon have Google wi-fi - and other firms/local authorities are implementing similar schemes in the UK.

Check email, make a VOIP call and of course search - wi-fi is becoming a utility like power.

This is Google world and if you are technology lover it is hard not to be impressed by the culture, the scale and the reach.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:57 AM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

Everyone hates the US but what would you do without our tech?

Technolgy helps to cure cancer -but it also drove the Nazi concentration camps and continues to powers the bombs that enable politicians and businessmen to kill innocent civilians around the world.

How can any intelligent person confuse "technology" with "entertainment" -and how can anybody with a concience write such commercially inspired trivia?


  • 3.
  • At 09:39 AM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • rich peacock wrote:

wow, sounds impressive - shame other corporations don't follow suit :(

  • 4.
  • At 11:43 AM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Siddhartha wrote:

I used google first around 2000 and I fell in love with this search engine. I used to tell all of my friends to use this. I am so happy to see them The BEST.

With an environment like that, it's no wonder that the best and the brightest try to make Google their employer.

  • 6.
  • At 12:57 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Scott Raisbeck wrote:

As a young software engineer, one could only ever hope to work for such a company.

Sounds unique, and with such an approach to work, it is no wonder that google has achieved so much.

  • 7.
  • At 01:04 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • unimportant wrote:

At the very least Google gave us the search engine which is my home page. Microsoft gave us an operating system where spell check doesn't work with wordpad or notepad. How sad!
Microsoft is not compatible generation after generation unless you convert to text files.

I use a very old Thinkpad 286 for hobbies but the other day I took my Acer running xp and lunix. While at the community center I tried to
connect to wi-fi and to my amazement it worked. It has change the world for me. Not quite everything everywhere but very close. Instead of doing my weights, I read my favourite newspapers online.

Most school textbooks are outdate and have been for years probably due to budgets. Wi-fi changes all that. Many structures breakdown during a world war and whether we have one over energy is yet to be seen. Iran is certainly probably going to be next - Korea? Chinese
military buildup. Very interesting times. What will a world war do to the internet?

  • 8.
  • At 01:21 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

How about dropping into the office that deals with Googles growth in China? Ask them how they can be working with the Chinese government to limit the Chinese people's freedom of information and expression and still have their company motto as "Don't be evil".

  • 9.
  • At 01:24 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Joseph Mushrow wrote:

Google is perhaps one of the best examples of simplicity being best.

Compare Microsoft's "MSN" home-page to that of Google's.

MSN goes for the all in one, maximum content - whereas Google gives the user exactly what they want. A search engine.

  • 10.
  • At 01:30 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

It reminds me of that movie Anti-trust with Ryan Phillipe (or whatever his name is).... Google sounds just like that company in that movie!

  • 11.
  • At 01:47 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Blind wrote:

In relation to Andy's point on China.

A company is bound by the rules set by the government. They must follow those rules.If you want to make a complaint, make it to China.

Going along your view I shouldn't buy any products that are manufactured in China or transported by China.

  • 12.
  • At 02:38 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • David wrote:

Has anyone ever extrapolated Google's growth to see when they become the dominant world power?

  • 13.
  • At 03:19 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Great, we have a search engine that retrieves slighly more relevant results than yahoo and msn. Don't be fooled, Google has done little more than glamorise yellow pages.

I'm a PC technician by trade with Microsoft qualifications.
I was pointed at Google in 1996 in my first post-graduate job. It was very much then as it is now, an easy-to-use search engine. It's rapid expansion into video, mail and so on seems to be working for the moment. I just hope it doesn't all collapse in some horrific way, crippling many businesses and home users in the fallout.
Still, long live Google. If only all technology companies operated that way.

  • 15.
  • At 03:54 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • James wrote:

I appreciate Google is the worlds most widely used search engine and their seemingly flawless work ethic but everything seems all to pleasantville. Although Google allows employees 20% of their time to work on personal projects, I assume they take a hefty cut of the profit from any employee's money making ideas worked on during that 20%. I can't imagine all is so rosy over at Google HQ

  • 16.
  • At 04:23 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Joseph Mushrow wrote:

Poster 13, Paul - I direct you to:

http://www.google.co.uk/about.html

Google is the fastest, most comprehensive website on the internet.

You clearly have little insight into how Google actually "works" - perhaps if you did you'd be slower to refer to what is possibly the single largest internet-related achievement to date as a "glamorized yellow pages".

I must have missed the search function at the front of the book, silly me. I'm curious, does it search over hundreds of millions of webpages and provide links to over 2 billion images?

I love google and hope to work for them some day! They're the idea of a "fun" company.

  • 18.
  • At 04:51 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

In response to Blind (ahem)...

The thing about complaining directly to China is that they really don't listen to anyone.

Google, on the other hand are quite precious about their lovely fluffy image and so the more people who question their dealing with China, the more pressure they'll be under to push the Chinese and for less restrictions on the internet. It might also make them think twice before signing up to restrictions imposed by other governments with questionable human rights standards. All business (especially one whose motto is 'don't be evil') has a responsibility to uphold basic human rights.

So for goodness sakes complain to them - they will be listening!!

On Chinese products... The Google.cn search engine affects Chinese users by restricting search results for topics such as “human rights”, “political reform”, “Tiananmen Square” and “Falun Gong”, among others. If my made-in-Chine egg timer did that, I wouldn't buy it.



I have to disagree with you Paul. Have you not taken a look at the Google labs? Google is more than a search engine now, it is an emailing client, a spreadsheet manager, a word processor, desktop addons, route planner.... the list goes on. I suggest you create a google account and check it out!

  • 20.
  • At 05:18 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I fail to see the reason behind all the hype they seem to receive. The search engine was there before Google. Yes they have an improved algorythm that allows for more relevant results, yet search is still in its infancy. If you do a like for like comparison of inovations brought to the market with the likes of Microsoft, Apple and IBM, Google has a long way to go.

  • 21.
  • At 05:36 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Roland wrote:

I have to agree with Paul. Alot of people, such as Joseph, clearly get totally overtaken by the power of brand. Let me guess, Mars are amazing and so are Starbucks and so are McDonalds. Get real, Google is a strong brand not a product that is much better than its competitors.

  • 22.
  • At 06:30 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Adrian wrote:

Does the spinning plasma globe show 'real time' searches from China for 'Tiananmen Square massacre'?

I think not! Googles colaboration with the Chinese Government for internet censorship is a disgrace!

  • 23.
  • At 06:45 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew Cook wrote:

It sounds a really exciting place to work

I also have reservations about universal WiF, and would like to know how many people round there have become ill or just had to move out after it was installed. In the RAF, it's recognised that some people can't fly some aircraft because the electronic "noise" specific to that machine clashes with their physiology and (somehow) makes them unwell.

You said: "Everyone hates the US but what would you do without our tech?"

May I remind you that it was NOT an American that devised the world wide web.

  • 25.
  • At 07:37 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Joseph Mushrow wrote:

Roland, Paul

I am far from "totally overtaken by the power of brand".

In fact I'm in many ways against capitalism but that's a different discussion entirely.

My point is Paul implies that Google "aint that good" when in actual fact (in reality) there isn't anything remotely as good in terms of diversity, structure, simplicity and design.

  • 26.
  • At 09:02 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • anony wrote:

Its worth checking out searchmash - google's test site for future search techno. Surprisingly good

  • 27.
  • At 09:07 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • anony wrote:

Its worth checking out searchmash - google's test site for future search techno. Surprisingly good

Woow very impressive, talk about ideal working condtions!

Ive heard from a person working in Micrsoft in the UK that they have taken steps to insure good working condtions. A few features in the microsoft campus UK are Starbucks coffee and other restaurants in their own campus giving free food to employees. There are doctors dotted around the campus for any people who might have 'cramps' or worse from using the computers for too long.

Technology is big, and people are starting to realize that.

  • 29.
  • At 10:52 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

its true that Google does a good job at searching, BUT, I understand that it does much more... it keeps a record of your search and the address of the machine you use, the results, and what you looked at and where you went to etc. etc. So you want to use the Google online free programmes or even pay for the privilege with ad free pages? The data you create with this virtual office will certainly never be 'lost', along with every message and attachment that you send or receive in Gmail. That is a very large profile you can create which will always be totally secure on servers in their commercial environment, part owned by China ;-}

  • 30.
  • At 11:09 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

To poster 19 and others enamoured with Google's great work ethic, hyper-cool offices and whatever else it is they contrive to be young and funky and clever, they are a corporate entity with one goal - to make money, increase market share and power.

Once you sign up for an account they have all your information, all your likes, dislikes, all your searches, all your emails. Governments and companies would kill for this information. Yet Google does it by stealth.

"Don't be evil"?!. Just by pretending to be that naive is misleading and dishonest.

Google is powerful. Power corrupts. By all means use them just see the bigger picture - don't be a sucker for great marketing.

  • 31.
  • At 12:59 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Kris wrote:

I love how everyone is so cynical about the world. Maybe for once we should admit that a big company is doing well?

  • 32.
  • At 06:18 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Andrew Simmons wrote:

To poster 1. I don't hate the US. I believe that US has been and will always continue to be at the forefront of newest and best technologies that the world has yet to see. Google is just the beginning...

  • 33.
  • At 06:39 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

To poster number one. Americans do not invent most technology, most technology is invented in Europe or Japan, the US is just good at making it commercial with the help of American taxes to make foreign companies uncompetitive with these American firms. An English guy created the iPod, Apples American marketing techniques sold it.

I use Google as my primary search engine and as my homepage simply because it is quick to load up and it doesn't bombard me with advertisements like say MSN or Yahoo, ironically Google makes 80% of its revenue from advertising by advertising specific things that the user searches for in a discrete way. Everytime a user clicks on an ad then Google generates revenue.

Google does has a lot of services, however, most of them are still in beta, plus a lot of their services aren't fully integrated yet like say a Yahoo ID which can be used across all of Yahoo's services. Unless these services come out of beta and fully integrated soon then I think Google will start losing customers.

On the Google campus...I don't know why more companies don't try and work like this, especially in a fast changing project based environment.

  • 34.
  • At 06:49 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • unimportant wrote:

At the very least Google gave us the search engine which is my home page. Microsoft gave us an operating system where spell check doesn't work with wordpad or notepad. How sad!
Microsoft is not compatible generation after generation unless you convert to text files.

I use a very old Thinkpad 286 for hobbies but the other day I took my Acer running xp and lunix. While at the community center I tried to
connect to wi-fi and to my amazement it worked. It has change the world for me. Not quite everything everywhere but very close. Instead of doing my weights, I read my favourite newspapers online.

Most school textbooks are outdate and have been for years probably due to budgets. Wi-fi changes all that. Many structures breakdown during a world war and whether we have one over energy is yet to be seen. Iran is certainly probably going to be next - Korea? Chinese
military buildup. Very interesting times. What will a world war do to the internet?

  • 35.
  • At 09:33 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Actually I find that my Google searches are increasingly becoming clogged with irrelevant results, and increasingly ones that require me to spend money before I can access them to verify their relevance.

Google is nothing more than a glorified yellow pages and all the other stuff they do is beyond irrelevant. Its amazing how people buy into brands.

  • 36.
  • At 09:43 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Ben Jones wrote:

Lets not forget that the internet and computer were both of british invention, and that Google is a great tool for those technologies.

I Wish I am a Googler. I read and heard a lot about the culture and the importance that is been given to the ideas of employees.

I wonder, is it the money that Google is making that allows them to be a wonderful employer? or is it they way Google wants to treat.

  • 38.
  • At 10:11 AM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Quinsfan wrote:

Google is one amazing business where apparently something like 20% employees are millonaires. Worked out well for a friend of mine-Lucky bugger!

  • 39.
  • At 12:04 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Trevor Batten, I have to disagree [post 2].

Technology only enables dreams and visions to be realised. Dreams are personal, whether they are good or bad is dependent on the individual.

Technology can be entertaining, your are right it can also kill. But not all technology is for bad...

  • 40.
  • At 04:17 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • kiersarama wrote:

I find it amazing that the anti-capitalist lot should try to portray Google, a company that goes out of its way to 'do no evil', as a 'disgraceful' company. Check out Google.org to see how they are helping charities etc with over a billion dollars of their money. I wonder how many of their lot have done as much good as this?

  • 41.
  • At 08:55 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Sorry to burst the bubble of British pride, but the internet was not a British invention. It's a direct descendant of DARPANet, which was developed to provide an alternative communications infrastructure for the US military in the event of a Soviet nuclear strike.

You can make that "made in Britain" claim, however, for the world wide web, which exists because Sir Tim Berners-Lee combined hypertext to TCP and DNS to make what we use as the web today possible -- which was pretty impressive.

As for the relative strengths of Google, time will tell. I still get search results from them that are closest to what I am looking for, and I like their email and RSS service. Others may not, but that doesn't mean that Google's underlying algorithms and solution architecture aren't interesting.

  • 42.
  • At 01:24 AM on 10 Mar 2007,
  • Steven wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee

Tim Berners Lee is British and credited with inventing the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is a network of linked documents which runs over the Internet.

Technology does not have a national identity. I am an American who lives in San Francisco. People like Joe, poster no. 1, are irritating to me too. I am amazed by how many of them are posting to this blog. Like Massbay on the Google map entry.

Please just ignore them. They are probably angry about something.

  • 43.
  • At 01:52 AM on 10 Mar 2007,
  • Mike Strassell wrote:

You all laud Google but there is a very very dark side to it all.

Every time you do a search, they store it with your IP address and cookie forever. They basically have a list of every string you have ever put to search on Google.

Worse yet, they can now cross-map it with the e-mails using gmail and are able to know who your friends, families, colleagues etc are. Plus, google ads are everywhere and they can also map it to the web-pages you frequent.

I know Google search service, gmail etc is very nice but you are giving up 100% of your privacy using it.

  • 44.
  • At 01:19 PM on 10 Mar 2007,
  • Mikkel Kjær Jensen wrote:

I wonder when, and if, Google will create an operating system, or at least and OS app.

Though on the other hand, Google has made their fortune by precisely avoiding such big risky mammoth projets, and instead providing smaller, but better, services. All of which are, at least in part, add financed.

  • 45.
  • At 03:14 PM on 13 Mar 2007,
  • nazila wrote:

I think nobody hate USA,
Sometime we criticise their politic's man...

  • 46.
  • At 11:25 AM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • Donald wrote:

Google is a very useful tools, it has especially assisted us scholars in Nairobi Kenya to easily access western publications for theory triangulation.

Keep it up google!!

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