Wednesday, July 26, 2006


We are on a week long trip to San Francisco for a series of meetings and had an opportunity to stop by Google today and visit with Bo Cowgill who runs Google's internal prediction markets. Besides having a great conversation, we were also exposed once again to the most unique office environment we've ever been in. Multi-story white boards, free food and drinks everywhere, temporary seating that look like mobile sterile rooms, exposed routers in the building lobbies, lava lamps.

But this is no 1999 office space where everyone is screwing around playing foosball. It's clear Google, while having oogles of money to spend on top notch office space, would prefer to maintain an air of "hackers work here" and purposely keep the pipes exposed. It's no wonder that this unique environment, combined with employees having 20% of their time to work on outside projects, is producing some pretty innovative stuff (including their work in prediction markets :) Even if 1 skunk-works project out of 1000 turns out to be something viable for Google, it's still worth it. More traditional companies, such as those we used to consult for, could learn a thing or two. Innovation is so often just lip service but Google lives it.

Now if they could just focus a tad more on their occasionally mediocre user-interfaces...

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