Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Inside Google's Cambridge, MA Offices

Google held an open house this morning at their three-month old Kendall Square offices (they moved to 5 Cambridge Center from the Cambridge Innovation Center earlier this year.) There wasn't much news... but it was a chance to meet some of the Googlers, watch Governor Deval Patrick play ping pong with Stephen Vinter, the Cambridge site director, and see demos of projects the Cambridge outpost has contributed to, like the Android mobile operating system.

Some data points about what's happening at the Cambridge office, followed by a video interview with Vinter, who talked about how Google hires for this office.

    - Cambridge has 175 employees, split roughly evenly between ad sales and engineering.

    - Google opened a Boston sales office in 2002; engineering began here in 2005.

    - Among the projects Cambridge Googlers contribute to are YouTube, Blogger, Friend Connect/Open Social, book search, Android, infrastructure, Web crawl, and networking -- which seems like a pretty broad range.

    - I asked Vinter whether any new projects were indigenous to Cambridge... that is, they'd sprang out of the local office, rather than been delegated by someone at the Googleplex in Mountain View. He said that Friend Connect, a toolbox for easily adding social networking to Web sites, is an example of one. (It was overseen by Norris Boyd, who was demoing it today in Cambridge.)

    - Neither Larry Page or Sergey Brin, Google's founders, have visited the Cambridge office, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt has.

In my video chat with Vinter, I asked him about Google's hiring and interview process, and how the culture in Cambridge differs from Mountain View.

And here's some more coverage of today's open house: New England Cable News ... Mass High Tech ... Cambridge Chronicle ... BostonGlobe

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Starting this Weekend: Cambridge Science Festival

We're really lucky to have something like the Cambridge Science Festival in our town, organized by the great MIT Museum. It starts tomorrow, and runs through May 4th. Great activities for kids, teens, and adults, on topics like biotech, brewing beer, alternative energy, solar flares, climate change, women in science, and sustainable chocolate. (Sustainable chocolate?)

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Can the Collaboration Space Continue?

Bill Warner tells me he is planning to leave the Cambridge Collaboration Space that he started back in 2002.

His goal was to create a work environment where small start-ups and solo entrepreneurs could rent space and enjoy turn-key infrastructure. Warner, the founder of Avid Technology, served as the benevolent landlord, and his tenants have included serial entrepreneur Yonald Chery, Eric Peters (one of the early employees at Avid), Eliot Mack of Cinital, Michael Wissner, Paul English (a co-founder of Kayak), and John Lert of CasePick Systems.

Warner says he never was able to make the space a profit-generating venture, but he reckons that there's about a 50 percent chance that a group of tenants, led by architect Philip Dowds, will take over the lease and keep the space going.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Today's Globe column: Google's prototype phones spotted in Cambridge

As soon as I moved back to Boston in mid-July, I started noticing that a lot of entrepreneurs were brandishing their new iPhones as status symbols. But an even rarer status symbol, I discovered, was being able to claim that you'd seen a prototype of Google's new cell phone, some of the software for which is being developed in Google's Cambridge R&D office. That's the topic of today's Globe column.

In today's Innovation Economy video, I talk about the phone, and interview the founders of two local start-ups working on cool new cell phone apps, Veveo and Vlingo. Veveo is doing video search; Vlingo (once known as Mobeus) is doing speech recognition.

I'd also gotten a tip a few weeks ago that Google will triple its space in Kendall Square and move from One Broadway (the Cambridge Innovation Center) to Cambridge Center (above the Marriott); while I'd planned to include that info as an aside in this Sunday's column, the BBJ published something first. Then, Watha wrote a short piece in the Globe yesterday.

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