By Jennifer 8. Lee | March 28, 2008
I went to speak at Google as part of their awesome Authors@Google program. As we drove by, I noticed that Google has its own street sign. Not Google Blvd or Google Parkway or Google Avenue — Just “Google.”
So the biggest and nicest surprise at the presentation was seeing an old friend whom I last saw at the Harvard-Yale game in November. He works as a developer at Google and had just moved back that weekend to Mountain View, “in time for my reading,” he joked. (He was a few years ahead of me at school, but I first met him when I did this article on Google). Anyway, very flattering in saying he had never looked forward to an authors@google talk more, and if you know the people they have brought, that’s really an exaggeration. He actually helped me during my signing by cutting little fortunes with his pocket knife (a Boy Scout is always prepared, eh said). I tape fortunes into the books when I sign them so they are individualized yet mass-produced — which is the whole secret of fortune cookies to begin with.
So he joined our group for lunch, and we got to talking about how there is some Web site that tells you how many people have joined Google after you have — since for a while there the company was doubling in size every year. So 75 percent? 10 percent? You could find out.
One of the Googlers at the table had been there for three years. And the other was a summer hire from class of 2007. (Google is to today’s graduating seniors what Microsoft was in my day — after Windows 95 launched).
So Naomi asked how long my friend had been at Google. He thought for a moment and said, “Nine years.”
Then she asked how long had Google been around. And he said, “Mm, nine years.”
She was clearly pondering what that meant, which is the point that I decided to jump in and say what he would never say himself. And pointed out my friend was employee number 3 after Larry and Sergey.”
And the table was briefly silenced by the implications of the unassuming programmer who was sitting in front of us. (He was a Stanford grad student who did research on search but now works on Open Source stuff)
After lunch my friendÂ through his investigative prowess figured out which cafeteria, Oasis, former food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle (Olivia Wu) whose work I admired very much, had started working in. She’s serving up authentic Chinese food, which draws the Chinese developers from around the campus. But it’s an educational process for everyone else, since other folk want to know where their egg rolls and lo mein are. But she saw it as an opportunity to teach an educated crowd about Chinese food.
This is how food barriers are broken down.
I thought about the fact she moved from journalism to chefing after decades of writing. Perhaps a career path for me in the distant future given the dire straits of our industry (kidding).
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