There are many things that I am thankful for this year, but one of the best things that could happen to the New York tech scene is the growth of Google. Last year Google opened a huge office in Chelsea and moved about 500 employees into the new location. While I initially thought that most of the staffers would be associated with advertising sales or content business development, through my various visits to the office I was surprised to learn that there were lots of engineers working on some significant projects in New York like Google Maps and Google Mobile Search. There is an interesting article in today’s New York Times about the the Googleplex in Manhattan and how the Silicon Valley culture is being brought to New York.
The strategy of keeping employees happy and committed to spending endless hours on campus seems to be working. Richard Burdon, 37, an engineer who joined Google two years ago, has been staying past midnight to prepare for the introduction of a project. (Google’s Manhattan engineers have been responsible for developing Google Maps and are working on some 100 other projects.)
“Google is about as interesting as starting your own startup because you can really follow your own ideas,” said Mr. Burdon, who previously worked for Goldman Sachs, Sony and I.B.M. The only time he could remember leaving the office during the workday was to buy a friend a birthday present.
As a New York-based venture capitalist, this is great news. While many employees continue to enjoy the meteoric growth of the company, I am quite excited at the prospect of having hundreds of well-trained engineers and product managers in New York who will one day want to start their own company. New York has always had a talented and core group of technologists, many of whom are working on startup number 2 or 3, but what gets me excited is the idea that many newbies to the startup and web culture will have the opportunity to experience the fast-paced, engineering driven world of Google. It is precisely the engineers like Richard Burdon mentioned above who worked at major corporations like Goldman Sachs, Sony, and IBM, who may have never left their jobs for a startup but did so for Google. It is also many of these engineers, once they get their feet wet in an engineer driven culture, who will eventually want to leave and start their own companies contributing to the continued emergence of New York as a great place to launch a web startup.