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.
0 thoughts on “Behind the scenes”
Andy. Glad to have you visit us in California! The only crime is that I was not home at the time. But glad that you enjoyed the Barbequed Ribs!
So – question for you.
How do you define, “Emotionally Young?”
Also, what is your thoughts on the Google mission of “Do no harm?”
Also – what is your thoughts of spending a week in a geographical location in the world (Silicon Valley) that allows such potential, possibility and invention?
“Emotionally young”… I write about it in the book: Google is “booksmart”. Full of intelligent, well-read and well-educated people.
Yet, there are some concepts of insight and knowledge that are very hard to get to and to acquire without time. There simply aren’t any 20-yearolds that know what it’s like to be 40.
Google reminds me of a booksmart, well-educated 20-yearold that does and knows everything that can be asked of a 20-yearold. But the perspective of someone twice the age, they lack. Which is ok! But Google aren’t as good at recognizing that as they ought to be.
The “Don’t be evil” phrase, I have spent a full chapter on. It is very complex, but more of a good than a bad factor for Google in their striving to be a “moral force”, as CEO Eric Schmidt put it. But can a profit-seeking company avoid being evil in some respects? I interview philospohers in the book that argue that that’s just impossible…
I love the Peninsula! And I realize that I could probably spend my life there finding interesting stories in any direction I would look.