Visiting the Googleplex

Life at Google: beach volleyball, T-Rex, motorcycles and naptimes.

I recently visited the "Googleplex," Google's expansive headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., for an interview, and took the chance to snap a few pictures of life inside what must be one of the most entertaining workplaces in America.

Upon entering a Google building, whether in Boston or Mountain View, you type your name in a computer, and are presented with a confidentiality agreement that would presumably prevent one from publishing sensitive information gained during the visit. If you decline the non-disclosure agreement, as I did, you wear a visitor's badge that contains the words "NDA declined".

The Google office environment is quite welcoming, as you can see from the lava lamps, Legos, and various toys on the desk at the front entrance of 2000 Charleston Road, one of several buildings on the 500,000-square foot complex.

Need to make a phone call in the lobby? Check out the "Google Voice" phone booth. Or just use your cell phone like a normal person.

Google Apps product manager Rajen Sheth graciously answered questions about Google technology during a 40-minute interview, sitting in front of his Mac adorned by a sticker that says "My other computer is a data center."

Google officials accommodated my request for a short tour around the grounds, but Sergey, Larry and Eric were not available for a beach volleyball match.

Google's skeletal Tyrannosaurus Rex was likewise occupied by its attempts to graze on plant life while fighting off a swarm of pink plastic flamingos.

Lunchtime being over, this outdoor courtyard was mostly empty.

Walking along the grass and sidewalks between buildings one can gaze into the eyes of explorer Jacques Cousteau, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Lloyd Bridges, star of the 1950s television program "Sea Hunt," and other men and women honored with nautical-themed busts.

Google apparently has a motorcycle gang…

… as well as more environmentally conscious "bikers."

Even Google security guards drive hybrids.

Inside Building 40 are several paintings of Google logos, including an alien-themed take and a re-imagination of Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory.

Outside Building 40, this Trigon Miniguard II security phone is a decidedly old-school technology for a company like Google.

There's much I didn't see during my short visit to the Googleplex. The headquarters is famous for its lavish cafeterias…

… its high-tech relaxation devices, including a sound- and light-proof "decompression capsule" …

… and a twisty slide that goes down multiple floors, as you can see in these photos available in a post about the Google headquarters.

Even Googlers appreciate life's simplest pleasures. At 3 p.m., this Google employee takes a well-deserved nap after solving a complex engineering problem: how to extend the length of a couch with the strategic placement of an appropriately-sized chair. After all, that's what working at Google is all about – innovation.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.