Visiting the Googleplex: Worth it for the produce alone

The Ubuntu Developer Summit was hosted at Google, which was special.

The buildings are fairly ordinary, but there’s a bright lively atmosphere and a sense of abundance. I didn’t see many people over 30, and they all seem to enjoy life on the Google campus, protected from the grey world of highways outside. These people seem happy in their work.

We were in building 44, across the street from the main Google building, in a conference or presentation room, with side-rooms for meetings. Google allowed us (mostly me) to gorge on a steady supply of coffee, bagels, cakes, scones, fruit, crisps, and tubs of ice filled with soft drink cans.

Lunch time was a high point of the day. The rumours about Google’s canteens are true. The cooks really know what they are doing and have the means to do it. Eating there makes people smile. And there’s several (!) vegetarian choices, with skilful use of tofu. This would be the top restaurant (for me) in Munich, and it’s free at Google. The two canteens I saw were both called “No Name Cafe” – I think each building has one. Pictures at the Google Food Blog. After suffering months of Siemens food during on-site projects, this feels like a recruiting tool.

Outside the cafe there’s a chill-out area, with several retro video arcade machines, such as Defender and Pac-Man.

Things I noticed at the reception area of the main entrance (random pictures found on flickr, not mine):

  • Replica (apparently) of Space Ship One hanging from the ceiling. It’s smaller than I expected.
  • Screen with rotating earth, with columns of light indicated search activity at that location, color-coded for language.
  • Searches text scrolling up a white-text-on-black screen. Apparently it’s not real-time.
  • Large horizontal whiteboard for the made-up Google Master Plan. Each visitor can add to their own decision boxes and associations. The last entry at the right when we arrived was “Ubuntu Linux on all production desktops for teh win”. I shit you not.
  • An old copy of a classic Artificial Intelligence book (Patrick Henry Winston‘s one, I think), and old AI conference proceedings, as light reading while you’re waiting.
  • Free candy.

Other stuff on campus:

  • A resistance pool, for swimming in place.
  • A Hairdresser.
  • A Gym
  • Massages
  • Electric scooters