Sunday, October 25, 2009

Innovation Inside Google

I got a chance to visit the Google Cambridge office that had an Open House session as part of the Innovation Open House Series. The NE Innovation series offers currently-enrolled students the opportunity to visit interesting companies and meet founders and senior executives. Some of the companies they have planned are Google, Zipcar, IDEO, Blue State Digital, iRobot, Hubspot, etc.

A big thanks to Scott Kirsner and Stephen Vinter for organizing this. It's a nice way to create connections and visit some of the most innovative companies in this part of the world in an interactive, casual, fun environment.

Click here to register for the next ones.

We have heard enough about the perks and benefits Google offers to it's employees but this was a chance to find out why and see life inside Google.

According to Steve opening an office in Cambridge was a great strategic decision for Google with the greater Boston area having such a rich combination of universities, innovative high tech companies, and many Google business partners and customers.

The session started off with the question: What comes to your mind when you think about Google?

The answers started pouring in... Gmail, Google Search, Calendar, Youtube, etc.
The 11th or 12th item on the list was Google Ads which apparently makes 98-99% of Google's revenues. This is amazing!

The conversation continued with the data driven and experimental approach that Google uses and the thought process behind this. Some of the philosophy included asking questions like: How do you make things easier? How will we add value to the web?

Later they had a raffle for answering any of the 5 questions:
How much revenue does Google earn outside US?
How many books are there in the world?
How much time would it take to watch all the videos uploaded on YouTube in a minute?
How many open source projects is Google involved with?
Forgot the 5th one.

Yours truly got 2 right!... and a tshirt ofcourse :)

Embedded within the culture is an essential ingredient: "Don't make a PowerPoint, build a prototype" (I think it is critical that students and the business school faculties understand this)

The session continued with more conversations about Android, the reason to introduce Chrome, Google wave and Google analytics.

The did have a demo about Google Insights which is an amazing tool to have for any business.

The tour of the company was simply awesome and I loved the idea that you should never be more than 50 feet from food.

The most important take away for me was that I learned more about strategy and marketing in a 2 hour session @Google than during the last 2 months in grad school.

And the best quote I liked was:
Google is like graduate school - you have more stuff to do than you can really do. The question is how do you choose which is the right stuff to do?

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