Под катом – большая статья про внутренности их корпоративного здания, Googleplex. На английском. Спортивный зал есть, да. Вообще, знаете, от этой компании веет совершенно особенным чувством, что наши уже в городе.
Takahashi: Inside the Googleplex: Dean gets an behind-the-scenes tour
By Dean Takahashi
Article Launched: 07/18/2007 06:15:18 PM PDT
MOUNTAIN VIEW - In Silicon Valley, there is no corporate headquarters like the Googleplex. In fact, there's probably no place like it in the entire world: a combination college campus, home away from home, and socialist commune that almost everyone has heard of but few can visit.
Recently the normally secretive company allowed a Mercury News reporter and videographer to tag along on a stroll through the campus by the bay.
And our tour guide wasn't some Google newbie. It was Susan Wojcicki, whose title is vice president of ad services but who is perhaps better known as the woman whose garage was the original home for the company, and whose sister just married Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Everything about the Googleplex is designed to keep workers happy with free services from hair cuts to on-site medical care. And depending on your point of view, these legendary perks are either velvet handcuffs that promote workaholism, or examples of enlightened management for a company trying to retain people in a very competitive valley.
From the moment you get to the campus near the edge of the Bay in Mountain View, it's clearly different. I frequented the place when it was owned by Silicon Graphics, best known for the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park." (In the early 1990s, by the way, Silicon Graphics was as cool as Google is now, an apt reminder for companies that think they can do no wrong.)
Parking attendants are largely there to tell you that
you should turn around and park on the street because there are always so many visitors. They're probably also there to watch for the folks trying to sneak in for free food in the cafeteria. Shuttle buses arrive periodically to bring employees from San Francisco and other places, gratis.
The place is geek chic. The buildings start with the number "42," not because there are 42 buildings. There are just four on the main campus, with overflow spilling into the rest of Mountain View.
The first building is named "42" after the answer to the question, "What is the meaning to life, the universe, and everything?" It's a joke from Douglas Adams' sci-fi farce novel, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
We started in building 43, a glass building with a wide staircase and a spaceship replica hanging overhead. A screen constantly lists the terms of actual searches being typed live from all around the world. Google won't allow anyone to film the searches for privacy reasons, and it weeds out inappropriate searches such as porn from public viewing.
But the idea is to give Google's 12,200-plus employees a reminder of what their customers want to know. In a long string, I saw scrolling by "racism and child welfare," "weather.com," "suto girlfriend," "helicopter game," "TGI Fridays," and, oddly enough, "MSN.com."
Wojcicki walked us over to Charlie's Cafe, (named after Google's first chef, Charlie Ayers) the main cafeteria with gourmet food of all kinds. It was a busy place at lunch, making it harder to hear her as she described the reason that the food is free.
"We need to be able to work as much as we need to without going hungry," Wojcicki said. "The business logic behind all of the services is to enable people to be more productive." Google won't disclose how much it spends on all the perks.
There are stations for sandwiches, sushi, Mexican, Indian and other foods. Google employees are known for gaining weight in their first year, but a lot of the food is healthy, low-fat and organic. Even the ice cream is specially made with Google-branded plastic wrappers because it has been custom-made with no trans-fats. (I grabbed a brownie).
You won't find this free food tradition in many other places in the valley. Microsoft, for instance, just gives away free drinks.
At Google, much more than the food is free. Here you can find untended umbrellas, scooters, bikes and other things that can help you move between buildings.
Besides free food, Google employees get a host of on-site benefits, some subsidized and some free, that keep them happy at work and able to work long hours. They can do their laundry, take showers, go to the gym, play volleyball, get massages, leave the kids with the free child care, and even visit doctors.
They can bring their pets to work; one guy I saw had a picture of his dog typing on a computer keyboard. (Remember the old New Yorker cartoon: "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.") The dress code? "You must wear clothes," Wojcicki said.
Wojcicki said Google doesn't want to chain employees to the campus; it's to make it easier to achieve a "work-life balance." The Google founders came from academia and they wanted a university setting. That means casual rules, lots of eager young thinkers, and benefits that keep employees loyal.
If you go overboard in the cafeteria or are otherwise out of balance, Wojcicki said the subsidized massages in private rooms are very popular. You can also visit doctors in antiseptic examination rooms. Those doctors can better understand issues the Google workers suffer from, like ergonomic issues or wear and tear from long hours.
The cost of keeping the doctors there, Wojcicki said, is offset by the prevention of costly medical problems.
Google, of course, goes the extra mile in just about everything. Wojcicki takes advantage of the free personal training at the gym, where scores of flat-panel TVs sit in front of exercise books and jogging machines. There wasn't enough room for a big swimming pool, but the campus has a couple of "infinity pools" that shoot a current of water at the swimmer, who swims against the tide without actually going anywhere. (How's that for a modern metaphor?).
For the more cerebral, you can sit in on a lecture from fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg or politicians like Bill or Hillary Clinton. Wojcicki said one of the points is to "invest in yourself."
"The kind of people who come to Google are interested in hearing from world leaders," she said.
I got the sense that they were also shooting for high IQs here. Indeed, even in the restroom, you have to be a thinker. In front of the urinals or on bathroom stalls are little index cards with programming tips or mind puzzles.
The company is socially conscious. It has solar panels on its roofs to supply much of its electricity. And the campus grounds, not far from a bronze statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, showcase experiments like a garden sponsored by "the Growing Connection," a beneficiary of Google's own charitable foundation.
The actual cubicles where employees work also make a statement. Most people share a work space with several other workers. There are few if any private offices, even for the executives, and the ones that are private have glass windows.
By contrast, most of the offices at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters are private with doors. The point is that "openness" and "collaboration" are such core values that it even means being able to turn around talk to a colleague without any extra effort. Wojcicki herself shared a large cubicle with low walls, not far from a disco ball hanging from the ceiling.
There was one place where Wojcicki couldn't take me. We started walking in one direction, but Gettinger, the PR escort, said that the work area where we were about to go was off limits. "Umm, let me see," I said. "It's the Google operating system? Or the Google phone? Or the Google PC?"
"There's lots of rumors out there," Wojcicki said.
"Is there a `don't be evil' section here," I asked, a reference to the philosophy of the company's founders.
"I think that pervades the whole campus," Wojcicki said.
Contact Dean Takahashi at email@example.com or (408) 920-5739.