Google Visit & AGM

27 Mar. 2010

Following a lunch at nearby Juan Costa restaurant, we were met at the rather dull-looking exterior of Google’s research center in Zurich by the vivacious leader of the tour, MIT-er Shannon Maher (EECS ’78), who is an Engineering Director there. Once inside, the architecture blows one’s mind. The 61(!) attendees were taken around the center, which has two tower blocks of about 8 and 5 stories respectively.

Each floor has its own character, but one thing is common throughout – the idea of close interaction with colleagues coupled with the chance to escape. Most workspaces are open-plan, with talking between colleagues encouraged. Refreshments are around all over the building (at no cost), so ice-cream or coke breaks are common, and again, conversation is encouraged. Color schemes are bright, almost childlike, and differ from one area to another. Going between floors can be via firepoles or slides (if you’re going down!) or by more conventional ways. Getting away from it all is easy too, with massage rooms, a giant restful aquarium room, a jungle room, etc.

After the tour, Shannon gave us a review of what Google does and some ideas of what the future will look like. The future is bright – even chrome-bright, with Google’s new Chrome web browser system, which competes with IE, Firefox, etc., and claims to be faster, easier, safer.

All in all, a most fascinating view of the cutting edge of infotech that is used by everybody!

Howard Hornfeld