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Google Preparing To Launch G-Town 251

Posted by timothy
from the owe-my-soul-to-the-company-store dept.
theodp writes "The Mercury News reports that Google's aggressive online growth increasingly has a counterpart in bricks and mortar, with the company's Mountain View HQ mushrooming in the past four years to occupy more than 4 million square feet. And that's just for starters. On Silicon Valley's NASA Ames base, Google is preparing to build a new corporate campus with fitness and day care facilities and — in a first in the valley — employee housing, adding 1.2 million sqare feet to Google's real estate holdings. 'I don't want to say it's the new company town,' said commercial real estate VP Gregory M. Davies of Google's role, 'but it's not far from it.' Presumably, no anti-suicide nets will be needed for this one."
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Google Preparing To Launch G-Town

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  • obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhcompy (1877290) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:21PM (#34226582)
    Considering the cost of home ownership(and rentals for that matter) in the Bay area/San Jose area, this is pretty obvious. They attract a lot of people out of college who simply can't afford to live within any reasonable distance of the facility. So they rent/buy in places like Tracy, which are 90+minutes away. It would be nice if more companies did this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by redemtionboy (890616)
      Plus, what other houses have gigabit internet!
    • by lullabud (679893) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:40PM (#34226708) Homepage

      I worked in Colorado for a company headquartered in Sunnyvale. They used to fly us out from CO and we'd work in silicon valley for Colorado wages, staying in corporate housing. I loved it because I sublet my apartment in CO out so I was essentially staying for free. Top that off with all the overtime I was working in a place that I didn't technically live (yet) and thus didn't have many friends to go out partying with.

      Then they wanted to bring some of us out to CA to live permanently, but didn't want to give us the cost of living adjustments. In order to pacify us they let us stay in the company housing with less than cost-of-living raises, making less than we should but compensating the low pay by covering the housing cost. It worked out really well for a while and was a great start. I had to quit the company when I wanted to move out though because they wouldn't budge on giving any of us raises if we moved out.

      The living wasn't bad, I had some interesting room mates that were smart people, but some were crazy or just odd characters. They were bringing in Taiwanese engineers that couldn't speak just about any english and urinated all over the bathroom in the middle of the night. Thankfully we had housekeeping three times a week. I also had these two drunk party-crazy room mates that would tear the place apart. One of them came home drunk and drank a half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and went blind for like a day or two. Another one would get drunk and go steal fruit off the trees in people's yards. One time they got in a flour fight and when I woke up it was like a ghost had walked all over my apartment. Another one went crazy on drugs, lost a rental car, got sent back to CO but never made it because he got arrested on his Phoenix layover for trying to disassemble a metal detector or something (though he wasn't technically my room mate.)

      Ah, the good old days of technology, per diem, overtime cash and partying with other nerds in Man Jose. Can't say they weren't interesting, but I'm glad they're over.

      • by daeley (126313)

        There is a novel waiting to be written there. :)

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        I worked in Colorado for a company headquartered in Sunnyvale...

        Then they wanted to bring some of us out to CA to live permanently, but didn't want to give us the cost of living adjustments.

        Well yeah, do you have any idea how much the company must be spending on vampire and demon insurance?

        Oh... SunnyVALE. Nevermind...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ubrgeek (679399)
      Valid points. I always wondered [slashdot.org] how long it would be until they went down this road. Interesting to see their motivation. Of course, as someone else posted, this community could also just be a "beta" until they build something for non-employees.
    • Considering the cost of home ownership(and rentals for that matter) in the Bay area/San Jose area, this is pretty obvious. They attract a lot of people out of college who simply can't afford to live within any reasonable distance of the facility. So they rent/buy in places like Tracy, which are 90+minutes away. It would be nice if more companies did this.

      Stanford University has a similar setup; not bad for a Junior University.

    • Re:obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blincoln (592401) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @10:35PM (#34227338) Homepage Journal

      It would be nice if more companies did this.

      You are joking, right? Or do you actually like the idea of your employer not only being able to fire you at will, but simultaneously kick you out of your place of residence? There is not a chance I would ever give a corporation that much power over me, and I've never even left an employer on anything other than good terms.

      • Re:obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

        by safetyinnumbers (1770570) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:32PM (#34227636)

        It would be nice if more companies did this.

        You are joking, right? Or do you actually like the idea of your employer not only being able to fire you at will, but simultaneously kick you out of your place of residence?

        I'm reminded of Saltaire in Bradford, UK

        It's when they start paying you in their own currency that can only be spent in company stores that you have to worry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Actually, Google already has a form of this. They have an internal store thing that sells gadgets and suchlike. I don't recall exactly how it works, but I think there is some kind of internal currency for using it.
      • by nschubach (922175)

        I seem to remember a certain part of US history where a steel company had company housing and would evict fired workers as well. Of course, it's been about 20 years since that class so I don't remember all the details.

        • by arivanov (12034)

          Reminds me of the wonders of the "Socialst Society". This was a standard practice by all large employers in the communist block. As there was no housing to go about this pretty much meant you slaving for life in a single job with the average time a person was in one job in excess of 20 years.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        You are joking, right? Or do you actually like the idea of your employer not only being able to fire you at will, but simultaneously kick you out of your place of residence?

        We're talking about California here. It takes at least a month to evict someone. Terminating their lease is only the beginning.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Asdanf (1281936)
      Speaking as someone who went to Google out of college, they paid me easily enough to live very nearby.
    • by Rakishi (759894)

      They attract a lot of people out of college who simply can't afford to live within any reasonable distance of the facility.

      $85k/yr + $15k signing bonuses are not little, doubt any large company pays much less than that for tech workers in the bay area.

      So they rent/buy in places like Tracy, which are 90+minutes away.

      Recent college graduates don't generally have a wife and three kids.

      It would be nice if more companies did this.

      Or they could use that money to pay higher salaries instead which employees could then use to pay for their housing of choice. I know, an amazing concept. Of course then companies wouldn't be able to compel people to not switch jobs by holding their housing ransom.

      • Or they could use that money to pay higher salaries instead which employees could then use to pay for their housing of choice

        I think the point is that this is cheaper. They could pay you the cost of providing the accommodation, but then you'd pay a cut of it to the bank in interest or to the landlord in his profit. If Google lets the accommodation, then they do so at cost (or below, since they can probably write it off against tax), so $1000/month goes a lot further if no one is skimming off a profit from it.

        I probably wouldn't want to live somewhere like that long term, but it might be nice for the first year in a new plac

  • by MRe_nl (306212)

    "I don't want to say it's the new company town, but it's not far from it".
    "Check out the new G-Spot Bar on the corner of Page Avenue and Brin Alley".

    Also, http://www.theonion.com/video/google-opt-out-feature-lets-users-protect-privacy,14358/ [theonion.com]

  • by fishthegeek (943099) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:32PM (#34226656) Journal
    HERE [theonion.com]
  • by Junta (36770) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:36PM (#34226680)

    I don't think I could live in a town that will probably stay in beta forever.

    • You Americans and your waterfall models... We Europeans live in continuously integrated towns and our Linux-2.6-like urban development model has been working just fine for over a millennium.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:37PM (#34226686)
    Timothy hit it on the head on this one. Google probably owns the "souls" (online personalities) of its employees more than any country in the world. To own their physical lives too seems like a consolidation of too much power.
    • by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:59PM (#34226826) Journal

      I launched sixteen droids and what do I get? A cubicle bedroom and deeper in debt.

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      Google probably owns the "souls" (online personalities) of its employees more than any country in the world.

      Really?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      i'm not exactly seeing how this has Google owning their "physical" lives. these employees have the choice to live either in off-Google-campus housing, which might be far and/or expensive, or in this new housing. they can choose to work for Google, or they can seek employment somewhere else. indentured servitude this ain't. Google employees' freedom to contract hasn't been eroded in some way. i'd say the only negative factor in all this (and it is a significant one) is Google's gobbling up of previously
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        i'm not exactly seeing how this has Google owning their "physical" lives. these employees have the choice to live either in off-Google-campus housing, which might be far and/or expensive, or in this new housing. they can choose to work for Google, or they can seek employment somewhere else. indentured servitude this ain't. Google employees' freedom to contract hasn't been eroded in some way. i'd say the only negative factor in all this (and it is a significant one) is Google's gobbling up of previously independent communities. but even there, Google can't just take over peoples' homes and businesses, they have to purchase them just like everyone else.

        call me when Google starts making work a contracted requirement for basic living necessities or builds unmaintained, dilapidated tenements, then there'll be something worrisome.

        Not yet, but...
        Come and work in silicon valley for $60,000. Your choices for housing: getting two roommates and sharing a 2 Bedroom apartment or living on Campus. No brainer! Of course, it's a great deal for you, and you'll graduate out, but ten years from now, new graduates coming into the company will earn less and pay more for the privilege, but still enough so that it seems like a great deal compared to housing off-campus. Except... there's only enough net income for a small amount of expendables.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2010 @08:40PM (#34226710)

    History is full of stories of very powerful companies (Standard Oil, IBM, etc.) that exerted great influence in their time. However, over their life, their influence was either diluted by regulations or the company changed completely. An example would be IBM -- they had a complete lock on the mainframe, a huge advantage in the "business machines" side of the business, but almost lost their place in the 90s by not reacting fast enough to the changeover to PCs and lower-end servers. Now they're a powerful consulting company and STILL have their lock on the mainframe, so they're still OK. Another example would be AT&T -- total monopoly on phone service, had enough money and leeway to support a complete basic research lab (Bell Labs) and had to totally reinvent itself to bexome a wireless carrier on a much smaller scale. (Yes, I know ATT handles all the iPhone contracts in the US, but that's a far cry from dictating the phone service standards for the world.)

    I wonder if Google will even have to adapt. At their heart, they're just an advertising agency that happens to serve search results to millions of users every day. For all the neat stuff they "give away" for "free", I don't know if people realize that all their usage data for these tools are being used to improve the core advertising business. If the Web 2.0 no-privacy thing proves to be the new way of the world and not just a fad, Google could concievably keep its lock on the advertising market as long as "common users" never have to pay for anything.

    Looking at some of the current Google news stories such as the Street View flap, and how underwhelmed most people were about it, I really think they could continue collecting any information they want without being challenged. I'm not super-old, but I really am amazed about the difference in generational attitudes about privacy. I'm not a tinfoil hat guy, but I really wonder about some of the implications of one company controlling a lot of the advertising market and having a pretty accurate profile about you to share with its customers. Advertising is annoying, but take it a step further and think about life insurers, potential employers, etc. etc... A little far fetched, but I wouldn't totally rule it out.

    • by DrEldarion (114072) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @09:27PM (#34226994)

      I'm not a tinfoil hat guy, but I really wonder about some of the implications of one company controlling a lot of the advertising market and having a pretty accurate profile about you to share with its customers.

      One of the big reasons that Google is so trusted in advertising is specifically because they don't share details with advertisers. Google looks at its available inventory of ads, looks at the user requesting the ad, looks at the site the ad is on, and uses an algorithm to pick the result. They don't offer crazy targeting options like, for instance, Facebook. IIRC, it's limited to targeting by region. (and then computer-specific stuff like OS)

    • by TamCaP (900777) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @10:11PM (#34227216)
      It's not only tthe IT sector! If you ever have a chance to read Benjamin Graham's book "The Intelligent Investor" you will see that many companies described there (from the 60s and 70s) are no more than silly sounding names today. Railroad industry was considered ultra-powerful and very stable, to fall apart almost overnight from the historical point of view. Corporate histories are not as boring as some people think.
      • by sznupi (719324)

        Funnily enough, the thing which crushed railroads managed to do so while convincing us it's crucial, needs to be heavily subsidized...and bailed out again, and again, and again. It does seem that whims of people is all that matters.

    • The worry for me was never a company getting it, but the government.
      Google isn't going to sell the info to the government-- they don't need to; and it would mean betraying their users' trust.

      So it doesn't bother me so much.
      Nobody has the time to look at YOUR file either, they're just doing statistical analysis on the data mined.

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @09:01PM (#34226846)
    My experience in Silicon Valley -- when a company announces that it is going to build a new corporate headquarters, then short the stock. This has an amazingly positive correlation. When executives are fusing about the house, they are not ruthlessly plotting to eviscerate their competition, enslave their workers, screw their stockholders, and take over the world. They are nesting. Now they are going to face the City Council, who are going to want 3,618 EPA, economic, and tax reports -- that is just for starters. Then, they are going to face 20,000 local residents who are going to hate any idea Google has just because Google is successful and lives on the side of the freeway that produces tons of tax revenue that cannot be shared with the rest of the city. This is called a morass. It is not what nimble companies like to kill time managing. Eric Schmidt would have more success fucking a tar baby.
    • by putaro (235078) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @10:05PM (#34227192) Journal

      Dead on! One might note that Google's campus up until now was the old Silicon Graphics campus - and its construction just about coincides with the beginning of SGI's slide. Campuses are like cocaine for companies - God's way of telling you you have too much money.

    • How ironic that morass is what Google is doing, yet they live on the eastern side of 101, the muddy wetlands by the salt percolators of the South San Francisco Bay, next to the landfill.

    • Parkinson's Law (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gawbl (941021) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:13AM (#34228156)

      C. Northcote Parkinson described this in his landmark work "Parkinson's Law." He noticed that British bureaucracies were most effective when young, dynamic, focused, and invariably housed in makeshift quarters.

      As these bureaucracies matured, they arranged better housing for themselves, and the completion of a grand edifice, complete with statuary, limousine parking, &etc. they had invariably achieved institutional senility, becoming utterly ineffective.

      While dated, Parkinson's Law (1958) is still relevant today; it's simultaneously too funny to be true, yet too true to be dismissed as humor.

      gawbl

    • by abdulla (523920)
      Wouldn't this also apply to Apple, who a few years ago declared they were expanding their campus? I believe there was a video of Jobs talking to the Cupertino council. Now their share price has had a meteoric rise.
  • Shame they haven't just bought the old Bell Labs campus [wikipedia.org]. Jersey could certainly use those jobs.
  • when someone forgets the term "G-Town" and accidentally says to a friend "hey man, have you ever been to that G.. spot?"
  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @10:16PM (#34227248) Journal


    There will come a time when the nations of the world will cease to exist. When the anachronisms of state and country are finally crushed by the inexorable juggernaut of total corporate domination. When five monolithic Corporations are the new world powers. When the lives of billions are the sole property of the companies that employ them.
    -- Corporation Core Rules [corpgame.com]

  • that Google was launching to counter Facebook. Guess I was wrong. People don't live on a virtual network when they could live in a real one.

  • by srealm (157581) <{prez} {at} {goth.net}> on Sunday November 14, 2010 @10:31PM (#34227322) Homepage

    Does that make the local nightclub the G-Spot?

  • Is it the "mill village" of the 21st Century?

    I hope not. When the mill dies, the town dies with it and the mill village becomes a rundown slum. A town (or city) needs a diversity of industry and business in order to prosper over time.
  • by Deviant (1501) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:09PM (#34227518)

    I have been seeing a scarry trend in employers like Google trying to run the lives of their employees. It goes something like this:

    You get a student out of University where the University was like their parent (provided their housing, food, rules, activities, goals to achieve, etc) and you recreate that in coporate life so they don't have to adjust to being an adult. You provide their food, their housing, their banking (through your own employee credit union), their healthcare and their activities/goals. It is almost like a cult.

    In the end, it makes it difficult to distinguish your personal life and your personal space from your work and it makes it that much harder to leave that job because you'd also need to find a place to live, a new bank, a new health plan/provider and all of the rest of living in the real world as part of the process.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      Don't forget employer provided cell phones and other technogadgets, employer subsidized exercise facilities, tuition reimbursement...

  • ... Or are they paid in GoogleQuatloos, Google's own currency, which can be spent at GoogleStores? If Google did launch their own currency, I would expect that it would be accepted for all debts, public and private everywhere anyway. The local McDonald's where I live used to have a sign up posting their exchange rate for dollars to the local currency, because a lot of US servicemen would come in with nothing else in their pockets. The McDonald's dropped this, because servicemen tend to stay on base these

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdwiegand (2267)

      Employers in most places can pay in whatever way both they and the employee agree on.

  • Just driving down the street Google managed to compromise everyone's privacy. Imagine what they'd do if they built your house!
  • And now they're going to build an arcology.
  • Sheriff Required (Score:3, Interesting)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:22AM (#34227914)
    Sheriff Required

    Google, Inc requires the services of a sheriff for its new company town.

    1) Fast paced and dynamic environment.
    2) Unmatched benefits.
    3) Accomodation in a nuclear bunker.
    4) Occasional travel in time and to other dimensions.

    Pleas click the 'Apply Now' button below.

  • We're in big trouble. Especially if Google buys stock in Global Dynamics....

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Especially if they can go back in time, prevent the rise of Microsoft, Apple and Linux. Can you imagine a world where all the music, TV shows and movies are free to watch and unlimited, all paid by ads?

      Wait, how do I feel about this again?

  • Somewhat related, how this turned out for Philips and the place they did this (Eindhoven, Netherlands) in the previous era;

    It is where Philips first put up office. Housing its own staff is what Philips did en masse after WW2 in the city of Eindhoven. These days the housings are part of Eindhoven itself, and the offices and factories are put to other uses. I especially like how Strijp (the former Philips campus ground) is now a cultural nexus for talented art, design, and tech folks with regular renowed fest

  • Once again, a simple typo has not been corrected in the summary.

    What are the editors doing ?

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday November 15, 2010 @05:23PM (#34235806) Homepage
    I'd like a job where I can my dog to work. He's clean, doesn't shed and quiet and I'd be more likely to stay much later so let's see companies start offering dog facilities. Plus lunch time will be much more fun.

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