165 University Avenue: Silicon Valley's 'lucky building'

Google's Director of Technology, Craig Silverstein, has been with the company from the start

For rapid growth and dizzying success, there's no better example than Google.

In just 12 years, Google has grown from three people in a suburban garage to a workforce of more than 20,000 in 70 offices around the world.

Craig Silverstein has been there from the start. He joined Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 to become the company's first employee.

"When we first started the company, I didn't have a title because we were very small," he remembers.

His suggestion was 'Vice President of Engineering'.

"They said, 'I think we'll leave that position open for a little while.' So we settled on Director of Technology and I've been that ever since."

Lucky

Silverstein believes that Google's founders had the right idea at the right time.

The interior of a Google office in South Korea Google now has 70 offices around the world

"Google was very lucky," he says.

"It started just at that time when there was a transition between being able to get around [the internet] with directories and friends' recommendations, to where you really needed to be able to search for things to find them."

And as the internet grew, so too did Google's payroll.

"We grew too big for the garage. We were six people. We had hired three more who hadn't started yet and so we needed a new space. And we spent a lot of time looking."

The office space they settled on was in the so-called 'lucky building' at 165 University Avenue - though Silverstein disagrees with this mantle.

"In the space right before us was some sort of website for learning Spanish or something like that. I've forgotten their name, but you've never heard of them. So certainly... it didn't entirely lead to blockbuster companies.

"I think what's really lucky is starting in Silicon Valley," he says.

"If you're a start-up, the support network for things like financing, legal help, for finding people who are able to do the human resources... it's so much better in Silicon Valley than most parts of the world."

"I think it's probably coincidence... that a lot of successful companies have come out of this one building, but it's not coincidence at all that a lot of successful companies have come out of this one part of the world."

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