With a tongue-in-cheek tone, Nick Bilton recently made a rather interesting observation about life at the headquarters of internet giants like google and facebook. Noting that the amenities in these workplaces were so good and so extensive that people never had to leave the building, he wondered if this absence fro the experience of the life the rest of us lead actually reduced the innovation potential at these companies.
Last year, as Larry Page was retaking the helm at Google as chief executive, he told Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times, “One of the primary goals I have is to get Google to be a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and speed of a start-up.”
Nimbleness is fine, but most start-ups I visit don’t have heated toilet seats and on-site dry cleaning.
If you look at the hottest start-ups and social companies today, they don’t even have real Web sites. Path, Draw Something and Instagram are all primarily mobile experiences. Other social apps like Viddy and Pair, which are quickly gaining in popularity, are also strictly mobile.
But this is the rhythm of Silicon Valley. It is, indeed, its life force. The bold start-up grows, gets comfortable and misses the next big thing, which the newest hungry start-up spots while working among the rest of us.
Coincidentally in the same week, Apple posted updated plans for its new headquarters in Cupertino. By now, everybody has seen the “spaceship” concept, a huge circular building with everything, it would seem, that Apple employees would want.
Apple employees apparently want to eat out, however. So Apple is now planning an off-campus restaurant for its staff, where they can get away from headquarters…but not in contact with others. The planned restaurant will be unmarked and open only to Apple employees.
“We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research and whatever project they’re engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations.
That is a real issue today in Cupertino because we’ve got other companies here in our same business.”