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Comparisons of Web Company Headquarters

by cory on June 8th, 2007
I was at Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Facebook HQs last week. I got much more thorough tours of Google and Facebook than the other two, so my impressions were skewed toward the superficial. Here are some notes: The campuses: Google's campus felt the most college campus-like. My first impression was at sunset, when I was there for the Google Developer Day party. At the GDD party there was free booze and food and music playing out on the quad between the main buildings. The atmosphere was less festive the following day when I met Mikey for lunch but it was no less playful. The buildings at Google all have playful architecture including unorthodox corners, curves and ornamentation. The campus is what I would call "integrated," where for instance there's a sand vollyball court right in the quad, between all the buildings, and two infinite lap pools between some other buildings. On Yahoo!'s it seemed like all the activities were kept separate: there was an athletic area where the volleyball courts and basketball hoops were that was separate from the quad and buildings, and inside one of the buildings there was a break room that was well-separated from the eating area and the working ares. I could go on and on about all the free food at Google, too. There's a smoothie bar, complete with wheatgrass shots, numerous drink coolers and snack bins, and very high-quality buffet-style lunches, all free. For someone like me who is hungry a lot of the day, having all that food always close at hand would be really nice. I made sure to help myself to a bunch of snacks and drinks for the road. Google gets a point at the expense of both Apple and Yahoo! for having free food. Yahoo!'s campus felt like a literal silicon valley. There's a narrow space between two of the buildings which opens onto the big green quad and the tall, silvery, reflective buildings curve slightly around it. If Google's campus feels like a medium-sized college campus, Yahoo!'s feels like a big state school campus. The buildings are large, all the same height, and all look pretty much the same from the outside. Yahoo! gets extra points from me for having a nice full-court basketball court (which Google doesn't have). I think I'm also going to give them a point for the fact that I could see, through a space in the covered parking lot, some cows grazing on a field in the distance. I don't know why, but I liked that. Apple's campus was fairly staid. The buildings weren't particularly spectacular, either. I only saw the inside of the cafeteria and of the gift shop, but there weren't all that remarkable inside, architecturally. I was hoping to be wowed by some slick interior decoration like at the Apple Stores, but they were pretty normal. The cafeteria was quite good. There were a lot of options, including a made-to-order pizza station (which is where I ate). While I was waiting for my pizza I saw someone go by who kind of looked like Steve Jobs, but I didn't think The Steve Jobs would actually be eating at a lowly cafeteria, so I assumed it was just someone who looked like Him. I mentioned to my friend Josh that it's funny that there'd be someone working here who actually looked like the founder, which is when he pointed out to me that it was The Steve Jobs, and after that I had to carefully avoid staring. If Google HQ is a college campus, Facebook HQ is a frathouse. I had a meeting with the person in charge of Facebook's new Social Platform, and there was an inexplicable keg in the corner of the meeting room. Facebook had a decent amount of free food around as well, and it looked like it was pretty much all junk food. I also noticed a bottle of Skyy vodka chilling in one of the fridges with all the free soft drinks. Facebook gets a lot of points for being by far the most fun-seeming place to work. I was there on an elated post-Platform-launch Friday afternoon, so I don't know if what I saw was typical, but everyone seemed to be having a really good time. The people who work there also seem to really enjoy hanging out with each other, too.

From → general, web20

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