Insights into Google’s early years

As you know, we work to provide folks a feel for the culture and work life dynamic at a wide range of startups. We found some great insights into what Google, the now multi-billion dollar company, was like in its early days from Chuck Howitt at The Record:

Google Logo
It started off using some of the cheapest computer hardware it could find.

A typical working area featured 27 different kinds of processors, monitors, mother boards and printers. Cable management was a nightmare. Data storage was cheap.

The headquarters was situated between a landfill site and a monster-truck race course.

Like many early stage companies, the organization was no more structured:

Managers supervised as many as 45 people and had one-on-one chats with employees every three months. Employees dressed like slobs. Failure wasn’t just tolerated, it was celebrated.

They also had some fun hiring practices:

Twenty people interviewed him before he was hired, [Douglas] Merrill, [former Chief Information Officer at Google,] said. Every engineer is interviewed at least eight times before joining Google, and managers don’t hire the people working directly for them.

There are a bunch more interesting anecdotes in the full article which makes an important point. The culture at each startup employer is incredibly unique—both vastly different from that of large established companies and differentiated from other startups.  Company size, mission, leadership, industry, location, and team composition all shape a culture, though people exert the greatest influence.  Getting this cultural fit right is obviously important, and it requires getting to know the team and the team getting to know you.  It’s presumably one of the reasons for the 8+ interviews at Google.

Our upcoming “Summer of Startups” series will profile dozens of emerging growth companies and provide a feel for the unique culture at each. Among them might be the next Google—and perhaps your next job.

What do you thing?   How important is culture when evaluating a potential employer?

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