Thursday, June 15, 2006

Google and the Circle of Life

Exit Silicon Graphics, enter Google: And life goes on..

Google's mystique only increases. Can you think of another company whose headquarters has been the subject of so much hype, speculation and rumor? If a latter-day, corporate version of historic Xanadu* exists, surely the storied Googleplex is a strong claimant for that title.

Need evidence to believe? A Google search for "Googleplex" produces 900,000 hits. Time has recently done a photoessay on life in the Googleplex**.

And now comes a report that Google is building a hush-hush piece of its Googleplex on the windswept Oregon-Washington border. How hush-hush, you say? Reports the IHT,

The design and even the nature of the Google center in this industrial and agricultural outpost 80 miles east of Portland, Oregon, has been a closely guarded corporate secret. Many local officials in The Dalles, including the city attorney and the city manager, said they could not comment on
the Google data center project, referred to locally as Project 02, because they signed confidentiality agreements with the company last year.
"No one says the 'G' word," said Diane Sherwood, who, as executive director of the Port of Klickitat, Washington, directly across the river from The Dalles, is not bound by such agreements. "It's a little bit like 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' in Harry Potter."

But one thing about the Googleplex struck me as a poignant irony: it leases buildings that are owned by, and formerly housed, that great Silicon Valley giant of yesteryear, Silicon Graphics. Now that SGI is in bankruptcy, Google is in the process of buying those buildings. Says the
San Jose Business Journal:

If SGI's bankruptcy goes through, Google expects the transaction to close no later than the end of June.

The circle of life. Sigh.

* Xanadu was the fabled summer capital of Kublai Khan, the wonders of which were extolled to Europeans by Western explorers such as Marco Polo

** there is a "factory tour" of the plex among the superb set of Google videos linked from the Google blog here.