June 23, 2008, 2:34 pm
Google Expands Its New York Footprint
By Jennifer 8. Lee
Senator Charles E. Schumer spoke on Monday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Google in Chelsea Market in Manhattan. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, and Senator Charles E. Schumer joined hands on a large pair of scissors on Monday to cut the ribbon on Google’s new 50,000-square-foot offices in Chelsea Market, an expansion of their half-million square feet across the street on Eighth Avenue.
“We don’t have high-tech scissors?” Mr. Schumer asked, looking at the ribbon. “How about a laser?”
(Indeed, it seems as if companies could get a little creative, with something more than just ribbons, at openings. Ikea, for example, opts for log-cuttings — as it did with its new Brooklyn store recently).
Mr. Brin, whose formal title is co-founder and president of technology, joked that New York’s offices started out in 2000 from the Upper West Side apartment of Tim Armstrong, now president of North American sales and commerce.
Since then, it has expanded to 1,600 (and growing) employees in New York City, the largest Google outpost outside of its Silicon Valley headquarters. Google’s New York offices are at 111 Eighth Avenue, a stone’s throw away. Incidentally, 111 Eighth is the same building that houses Doubleclick, which made the merger between the two fairly easy, logistically.
Of Google’s staff in New York, more than a third are sales and marketing, more than a third are engineering and the remainder are in support staff (overhead).
About 300 people, essentially sales and marketing, will occupy the new offices on the second and fourth floors of Chelsea Market, a space that spans three buildings. There is an additional 25,000 square feet that has not yet been developed yet.
Whereas the conference rooms in the 111 Eighth Avenue building are named after places in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the conference rooms are named after places in New Jersey (Meadowlands, Hoboken, etc.) scribbled in a graffiti font. There is no cafeteria in Chelsea markets, but there are kitchens with snacks and lots of bottled water. They do bring packaged sandwiches and sushi (courtesy of Jimmy the Sushi Guy) over.
At the ribbon cutting at Chelsea Market, Google exhibited its trademark control-freakedness, with security guards wearing blue “Google Security” shirts policing the area, receptionists asking reporters and photographers to sign nondisclosure agreements, and making requests for no photos of white boards or computer screens.
Mr. Brin, when asked about Google’s foray into phones at the question-and-answer session, responded, “I’ve been playing with some prototypes.” He said it’s fun to program phones, and his latest application was one that was no so popular with the team because “you would throw the phone up in the air and it would measure the amount of time until you caught it.”
The theme of Google’s Chelsea offices is “urban parks” — so there is a lot of exposed brick, dirty windows (with signs saying they are left dirty on purpose), graffiti font, metal and AstroTurf-ish grass. Blackboards, complimenting white boards, allow Googlers to scribble and be creative to their hearts content (but no photos, please.)
Mostly important: During the tour of the offices, City Room asked the Google guide, do the Google Chelsea Market offices also have a Lego playground area?
“No Legos,” he said. “We do have a slide, though.”
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company