Last Thursday we visited Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Its mission: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” To this end, they employ about 20,000 people located all around the world from a variety of disciplines.
Our lively host, Derek Parham, kindly toured us around the campus and showed us all the things that make Google special and set it apart from any other company. These things include free (and healthy) food, swimming pools, relaxation areas, free bikes for quick commuting and projects that have come out of the famous “Google 20 percent time”. This last trait has stimulated the creation of many things that have improved the company and have even been made into new Google applications like Gmail, Google News and Google Talk.
A little-known characteristic of Google is that ever since they started, they have focused on buying a lot of expendable cheap technology. Knowing that less reliable technology is likely to fail has actually helped them create systems that are very fault tolerant. Whenever a hard drive fails they just replace it, knowing that the information is stored in the cloud and can be recovered.
Part of Google’s success has been its ability to come up with new features in a short amount of time. What helps drive this rapid innovation is Google’s horizontal management structure, where developers do not have a lot of organizational overhead and are able to quickly get feedback from the high management, even the founders themselves.
We ended our Google expedition with a Q&A session featuring our very own Maddy’s brother Manoj Koushik from the Marketing department and Naresh Kumar who works as an engineer. Together with Derek they really helped us understand the many different sides that make up Google and how they do the amazing work that makes our lives easier every day.