Formal Employee RevealsThe Secret Life of Google

Likewise, the company’s Google’s Mountain View headquarters—a mere two-hour drive from Sacramento—was the kind of place that seemed to epitomize the dot-com age’s fun, pioneering, anti-corporate spirit. The Googleplex of 10 years ago comprised only two modestly sized buildings and a sprawling parking lot that seemed, in fact, bigger than its office space. But a publicist accompanied me on a tour, and our travels revealed a fun, freewheeling vibe: A help-yourself cereal bar tucked in amid the cubicles! Free vegan food in the employee cafe! Bean bags for napping! Lava lamps!

Dogs trot in and out of buildings, following their human counterparts to meetings and conferences and even trips to the bathrooms that sport, at least in some buildings, heated toilet seats. There are indoor playgrounds—complete with bright plastic slides and jungle gyms—and baskets stocked with Jolly Rancher candies. There are on-site haircuts and oil changes. There are video games and a bowling alley that’s available to be booked by the lane for work meetings; there are volleyball and tennis courts, soccer fields and hiking trails that snake through wooded enclaves and over picturesque footbridges. There are hammocks and picnic tables, free umbrellas for rainy days, swimming pools and big-screen TVs. There is, even, a rocket—well, a life-size replica of NASA’s SpaceShipOne, to be exact—that hangs above a staircase, held in place via an intricate system of wires and pulleys.

The lava lamps are still there, as is the free food—there are numerous cafes throughout the premises, in fact, with dishes to meet every dietary need and taste: kosher, vegan and gluten-free; sushi, pizza and sandwiches—as well as refrigerated cases stocked with free bottles of vitamin water, sports drinks and bubbly sodas.

An SN&R reporter goes searching for answers, 10 years later, at the Googleplex

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