Sunday, April 10, 2011

Google: Inside the world's weirdest company

THE wacky workplace secrets of Google have been exposed in a searching new book.

Boffins at the web giant, worth £118BILLION, enjoy free trapeze lessons, gourmet food, massages, car washes and even chocolate truffle making classes.

So-called 'Googlers' cycle from building to building on company bikes at the sprawling 'Googleplex' HQ campus in Mountain View, California.

Luxury, wi-fi equipped, biodiesel buses take them to and from work. And there are gyms staffed with personal trainers as well as hairdressers and dry cleaners.

They can even exercise at 'swim in place' pools by pushing against a current in a short stretch of water.

The gardens grow edible flowers in case the free gourmet grub does not hit the spot but you might want to think twice about eating them - because staff are also allowed to bring their dogs to work. A new book - called Googled - claims their offices across the world share the zany approach. Staff in Zurich get from floor to floor using a giant metal SLIDE.

In Colorado, they have a climbing wall. And in London the carpets look like grass, recreating a summer day in the park, complete with deckchairs. Every Friday, Googlers around the world gather for a video conference to put questions to co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

The pair foster a cult-like devotion and new employees - known as Nooglers - sit at the front wearing hats in Google's famous colours - red, blue, yellow and green - with PROPELLERS on top.

Page and Brin - worth an estimated £12billion each - based the firm's philosophy on an anarchic 'no rules', 'clothing-optional' desert retreat in Nevada that they attend every year. And their 20,000 staff, who wear Google polo shirts, are given just one corporate instruction: "Don't be evil."

The slogan is written on whiteboards across the firm.

It is a far cry from a graduate project run from a flat shared by the pair in 1996.

They moved into their first proper office, above a bike shop, in 1999 and used a ping-pong table for conferences so it could be folded away for massages. A visiting journalist called it a "graduate student Disneyland" with staff rollerblading around living off coffee, juice and snack bars.

Page and Brin admit the businessmen bankrolling the venture were nervous when they realised their vision of a company atmosphere.

Brin said: "They were a little bit perturbed to see front page stories that we were hiring a chef and a masseuse."

In an early public announcement, the pair said: "Google isn't a conventional company.

"We don't intend to become one."


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