Search engine tour

We did the Silicon Valley search engine company tour this evening. There was an interesting-sounding talk at Yahoo that a bunch of SIMS people were going to, so we all planned to meet up there, which is only about 15 minutes away from Sarai’s work in Palo Alto. One of the people going, also a classmate of hers, is working at Google over the summer. She invited us all over for an informal tour before the Yahoo event.

Google Visitor Lobby

Google was amazing. Think back on everything you’ve read about what that company is like and all the perks their employees get. It’s even better than that. Swimming pool, beach volleyball court, break areas outfitted with espresso machines and Torani syrups and all kinds of free drinks and snacks. Lounge areas with full bookcases, electronic massage chairs, a dog park. Even Segways! We had dinner in the cafeteria after wandering around a bit. The cafeteria is open for lunch and dinner, and employees and guests eat free. The food was really good, too. I had mostly Mediterranean: falafel, tabouli, feta and couscous salad, and more. They even had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. If I worked there, I would save so much money on groceries.

On the down side, I hear working there can be really stressful, which I have no trouble believing. And I don’t know that I’d commute to Mountain View again, even for Google (although they do have a shuttle from SF and the east bay that has wireless internet onboard…)

After this we headed over to Yahoo in Sunnyvale. The speaker was a UI designer for Ebay, which I at first thought was some kind of ironic joke. But no, there he was. The talk was supposedly on web application interface design, but actually ended up being Design Principles 101. It wasn’t very interesting, despite the fact that I’ve been reading a bit in this area lately. It was pretty basic stuff.

I took a few pictures at Google, and two at Yahoo, which are now in the photo gallery. I don’t think I was allowed to take pictures inside Google, so I didn’t get any of the really good stuff. At least I got a shot of the live search queries projected in the lobby. I was trying not to appear to be the gawky tourist we all so obviously were, but probably failed miserably.

More pictures