View from the Inside: Google

Posted on July 21, 2008

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Remember my friend, dEE?  The one that rode the T in Boston to share her insights about another kind of “mobile marketing?”  Well, she’s back.  This time from her new home in the Bay area where she goes inside none-other than the Google cafeteria:

One of my dreams since arriving in the Bay Area was to have dinner at Google.  With rumors of Google as a magical microcosm complete with gourmet cafeterias, over-sized beanbag chairs, game rooms, and free Naked Juice swirling in my head, I set to work trying to befriend a few Googlites so I could descend upon the Silicon Valley paradise.  Last night, my dream came true. 

With the friend of a friend as my escort, I perused Google cafeterias like “No Name,” “The Slice,” and an on-site Andale.  And it was like a dream — free food wherever you turn, as much as you want.  And it doesn’t stop with the cafeterias — there are snack stations around every corner with coffee, tea, fruit, little freeze-dried corn snack packs, Larabars.  Snacks I didn’t even know existed. 

But as I took my first bite of food, I suffered from what my mom likes to call “dashed expectations.”  It wasn’t all that great — just high-end cafeteria food.  And with that first bite, I started to put it all in perspective.  I know Google touts itself as environmentally friendly, sustainable, green-conscious, and all the rest.  I mean, they do have Google.org, which “aspires to use the power of information and technology to address the global challenges of our age: climate change, poverty and emerging disease,” and “renewable energy cheaper than coal (RE<C).”  But honestly, can we practice what we preach? Perhaps one of the best immediate ways they could address poverty and climate change is to unplug a few of the Naked Juice machines, scale back the unbelievable wealth of food at the snack stations, and remove the chilled fruit from their public water bubblers.  The money saved by those few actions alone, Google-wide, could probably generate a healthy sum of funds that can be used to provide food to countries that actually need it — or even parts of our own country where kids are signing up for summer camps just so they have a guaranteed source of lunch food each day. So while Google is kind of a paradise, I’m kind of put-off by the luxuries.  With the perspective I gained, the dashed expectations are worth it.  Maybe Googlites should start a movement to visit grocery stores and bring a few snacks with them to work so that the Google fruit bins can go to summer camps in need. 

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