In November, I was able to visit The Googleplex in Mountain View, California, for a week.
My friend Rick – frequent commentator here – let me use his house on the Redwood Shores for all of my stay, even though he was out of town. He stocked up the fridge too, and had cooked all kinds of gourmet food for me. I will include his name in the thank you-list towards the end of the book for that alone!
At Google, I was guided by communications director David Krane, a Google oldtimer who has been there since the nineties. He was swamped with work, but made sure to set some great things up for me.
Still, I realize that a Swedish reporter out to publish something in Swedish just can’t be a high Google priority. Ten million language speakers? Out of which perhaps ten thousand might read the book if I’m lucky? Larry Page and Sergey Brin are obsessed with time management. It just doesn’t make sense for them to talk to such a small audience.
For some of my walking around, I was accompanied by Emily Wood from David Krane’s crew. I have met a zillion press representatives in what soon is twenty years in journalism – but rarely someone as professional and no-nonsense as Emily Wood. Believe me, I know the difference. Hats off. (Same thing goes for Jamie Yood, who assisted in making my visit to Cameroon happen.)
So was I given ”big access”? Yes and no. I didn’t speak to a lot of big executives. On the other hand, I didn’t really request that either. I asked to speak to people who actually work in the midst of it all, and who by their skills and their presence build the Google culture. I had to work pretty hard to make some things happen myself. It’s not like you can just enter Google’s corporate site and get clear direction on who to talk to about what. A lot of e-mails went unanswered, and honestly, there have been times when I have smiled, but rather felt like hitting something, when someone just weren’t respecting my time frames or even answering a simple e-mail question. But that got gradually better as we got to know each other.
Overall impression of Google California? Overwhelming. Friendly. Mostly professional. Intellectually very mature. Emotionally still young.