The second instalment from Apps Crunch winners Tristan, Ashton and Ryan on their Silicon Valley adventure:
Google. Google Google Google. It was hard to believe we were really driving there; the famous googleplex.
Entering the first building, it was exactly what we expected. We walked around a slide to get to the reception, toyed on their latest chromebook offerings, then changed the lighting system from a tablet mounted to the wall. And this was just while waiting for our guide: Andy Warr.
The campus was not dissimilar to a university's, with mathematics and physics replaced with Chrome and Maps. Transport was simple, brightly coloured bikes greeted us outside of every building, a bridge replacing the zipline which once crossed the stream running through campus (The town Mountain View thought fun was a 'safety hazard'), Larry Page even had an electric scooter to cross the entire floor which made up his office.
Not to mention perks galore for the employees, the almost jaded Andy recounted the at-desk dry cleaning, errand boys for other needs, massages, free food and free bus service as if they were standard across all companies. Infinity pools, tennis court, and T-rex skeleton (“A reminder not to go extinct”) coated with flamingos; the campus was certainly living up to the hype.
After a quick stop at the android building for a photoshoot by the ever famous candy-statues, one put up for each release of the mobile operating system, it was time for us to give our tech talk: Quick internal presentations given whenever an employee or an outsider had something cool they wanted to share. Broadcast live to all google offices, we ran through the idea which allowed us to win the AppsCrunch, and were met with great enthusiasm (“First question, when can I get it?”). It was mentioned that, in Silicon Valley, regardless of the idea you have, someone will listen to it. This was just as true at google, ideas were shared and creativity flowed freely with no fear of a thought being shunned or rejected.
Alas, our time was over at Google, and it was on to Facebook; surrounded by the aptly named ‘Hacker way’.
“Like a movie set” was the first description. “Orlando studios” shortly followed. Outside the building was merely a block of offices, inside was a different world full of food, creativity, food, cutting edge technology, and food. Free barbecues, buffets, ice-cream, brownies, drinks, snacks and more made us begin to think their headquarters might even surpass the perks of Google’s. The arcade and hammocks certainly helped the cause. We even passed Mr. Zuckerberg, pacing back and forward behind a “Do not photograph the animals” sign. “He -hates- getting his picture taken”, we were told.
Instagram, a recent purchase of Facebook, now hidden behind a steampunk chess set, was just as fantastic. Bourbon lined the walls, a tribute to the original name of the application, but the main focus of the area was an entire room built to look sideways, with chairs, keyboard, mouse all bolted down firmly; a definite photoshoot opportunity. (“Did we put this in the risk assessment?”)
At this point, a vending machine selling keyboards and mice struggled to surprise us (I think we were all looking for the right point to leave behind our CVs) and we headed on home to a night of Chinese food, trams, and geocaching in the Golden Gate Park.