On a sunny day in September, one of the Google development teams walked out of Googleplex, the company headquarters, and crossed the grassy campus to embark on a team-building trek along the San Francisco inner bay. As they headed out to the nature preserve, they spotted a meeting in progress on a conference bicycle, a circular contraption that allows multiple riders to pedal and talk while the front rider steers. They skirted the buses that lined surrounding streets, waiting to shuttle thousands of employees back and forth to work from homes within 50 miles of headquarters. They took note of a Google picnic setting up in an adjacent park, marked by huge balloon rainbows in Google colors. They were passed by Googlers on bikes heading to other buildings on the sprawling campus.
Google and its culture has taken over the town, especially the eastern edge of homey little Mountain View. Google now occupies 30 buildings there with an excess of three million square feet of office space. This is more than a third of Mountain View's available office space, and though growth at Google has plateaued, the company has contingent plans for even more square footage if needed. Because many of Google's buildings, including its headquarters, are on land leased from the city, they are welcome tenants. In 2007, Mountain View received about $3.8 million in revenue from Google leases.
If Larry and Sergey are the twin King Arthurs of the tech world, Googleplex is its Camelot. It serves ...