What's it like in Google's offices?

Google are on a charm offensive. Such a successful product. We nearly all use Google Search – don’t we? And thus – earlier this week I visited their London offices – and found out!

They gave us a tour of their offices. In short: it was geek heaven. The Google logo and colours stream through every department – reminiscent of a children’s nursery. Primary colours – and decorated departments. Toys and props of all sorts – cuddly, inflatable, cardboard cut-out everywhere. Quite a few plants and several pieces of immiation picket fencing. Not quite sure why the fencing is so popular!

They are very idealistic about the story of two kids in a garage who make it big in e-land with innovation and good motives, launching new products for free and letting the world play with them. The overall message: we are all nice people who want to bring information to the world. When we get our revenue later (clearly quite a lot of revenue) – it’s a side effect of success.

All in all – I was impressed with the organisation. But there are issues of privacy and domination as this giant of the information world expands its operation and areas at the rate of knots.

Getting the information you want quickly and accurately is good – and if that includes relevant adverts which interest me, that’s fine. But what about when that targeting is used to push products at vulnerable people who end up getting exploited by being sold a product that’s supposedly the answer to all their problems? Or if the information about us isn’t held securely enough and someone gets to pry into your life? (Google have a better record at protecting information than our government – but as the old saying goes, the only totally secure computer is one switched off and locked away with all its cables pulled out). Or if the two founders retire and the firm is driven by people with different outlooks on life? And so on.

Everyone there is young, young, young. Google too is young – hard to believe in some ways that they are only nine years old. Can’t imagine a world without Google!