What is the coolest perk you've ever received at your workplace?
- Fancy chocolate biscuits?
- Friday drinks?
- A 10kg ham? (I was given this by an Irish employer once!)
Silicon Valley takes it a step further as talent is in hot demand and the race for the coolest office is on.
This week I had private tours of Pinterest, Facebook, Google and Twitter.
Like OutTrippin, they began as a few friends with a vision and even with rapid expansion they somehow kept their small tribe feel and avoided the pitfalls of corporate America.
Let's check 'em out…
Address: 808 Brannan Street in SOMA, San Francisco
Notable features: Collections of amazing things everywhere, Stunning architecture, Awesome food, They even do your washing for you!
Feels like: A carebear cloud of beautiful things and ideas.
Number of people: 180 but hiring 5 people per week
Jeremy who gave us a tour said:
'Pinterest removes every anxiety you might have so the only thing you have to worry about while you're at work, is work."
How cool is that? And their new $9 million office with a central staircase, exposed brick warehouse walls and ventilation tubing is stunning. We were there for lunch and it was 'Greek' day. That meant a buffet of chicken herbed skewers, greek style grilled fish, greek salads, dips and bread… it was to die for. People seemed genuinely happy to be there, most of them ride their bikes to work. They are encouraged to bring their collections of things into the office. We saw collections of bugs in resin, old typewriters, lego walls. There's a hammock if you're sleepy, hydraulic desks that you can stand or sit at. These guys take happiness seriously.
Address: 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California
Notable features: Games Arcade, Hairdresser, Doctor, 4 months paid parental leave, Graffiti art
Feels like: You're on a movie set at an amusement park
Number of people: Don't have an exact figure but it's in the thousands
Charles walked us around his amazing workspace, the security was pretty heavy to get in as we queued like we were waiting for the rollercoaster ride at a theme park. We weren't disappointed as we wandered up 'Hacker Way', past restaurants and every convenience you could imagine. It was Movie night and people were setting up chairs and beanbags in the common square beneath a giant LCD screen. We checked out the arcade room, the old printing press where they make funky posters that adorn walls around the space. It felt like we were on a film set, and there was that slightly eerie feeling that your every move was being watched, even if it was just to understand how to please you more.
Address: 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View
Notable features: Slides instead of stairs. Google bikes and segways to get around. Beach volleyball court. 20% Time.
Feels like: Revenge of the nerds goes to college
Number of people: Upwards of 50,000
This place is ridiculous, they call it Google Campus and it really does feel like a giant university. They have google bikes to get around and most of them carry a macbook air in the basket. One of the most interesting things I learned about Google is that they offer staff 20% time. That means one fifth of an employee's time is spent on side projects that breed innovation. After watching the Internship movie on the airplane coming to the US I was curious. It really did feel just like it and I remembered Vince Vaughan getting in trouble for trying to take free food home as I queued for my Japanese themed lunch. Just one serving for me!
Address: 1355 Market St San Francisco
Notable features: Awesome location, impressive rooftop, food food food food!
Feels like: An airport lounge for the smartest people in the world
Number of people: Approx 1500
My friend Nick invited me to Twitter for 'Tea Time' which translates to mean Friday afternoon rooftop beers and beats, mini burgers and cake pops. (Cake dipped in chocolate on a stick... I met a guy who had already consumed 7 of them.) The vibe was cool, international, intelligent. We met folks from all over the twitterverse and people wore their twitter emblemed shirts with pride. I saw one girl carrying a tote bag with #totes printed on it. People here have a sense of humour, you don't have to travel a million miles to mountain view and they seem to really look after their staff.
We also checked out some other upcoming tech companies you may not have heard of (yet).
Stripe: An awesome new company that makes it easy for developers/websites to accept credit cards on the web.
Odesk: A platform to find freelancers and freelance jobs - the world's largest online workplace where savvy businesses and professional freelancers go to work!
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