Google throws a party for new Austin office

Owen Thomas · 10/16/08 03:20PM

Click to viewGoogle shareholders, here's something to watch as you wait for the company to announce its earnings: Your investment dollars at work throwing a party for the opening of Google's downtown Austin office. "The Googletinis were flowing and the buffet featured Hill Country rattlesnake cakes with pistachio nut crust and lobster risotto stuffed mushrooms," reports the Austin American-Statesman. Then again, it does house some engineers working on AdWords, the only thing at Google actually generating enough revenue to be worth mentioning in a quarterly earnings call.

It's the end of Web 2.0 as we know it

Owen Thomas · 10/12/08 06:00PM

The infamous Camp Cyprus 20 are trickling back home. And they feel fine. The twentysomethings of Camp Cyprus work at companies like Google, Facebook, and, all of which make a business of moving our lives online. They gathered at the Cyprus vacation home of Wall Street banker Bob Lessin, overlooking the wine-dark Mediterranean, at the invitation of his startup-founder son, Sam, for a vacation. And in this hyperconnected age, they must surely be aware that a lip-synching video they made of their trip was an Internet sensation, marking the end of an era. If they feel any shame for popping the Web 2.0 bubble, they are not blogging, Tumblring, Twittering, or FriendFeeding it. The only concession to embarrassment over the incident was making the video private — and of course, it promptly resurfaced on YouTube and elsewhere. Sam Lessin, in public, is a privacy freak; privacy is the sales pitch for his staggeringly unpopular blogging and file-sharing startup, But he invited a bunch of known oversharers — Facebookers Dave Morin and Meagan Marks, Google Maps marketer Brittany Bohnet, and the like — to his dad's vacation home, permitted the filming of the video, and starred in it himself. I doubt he cared very much that it became an Internet sensation. No, I suspect that this takedown had little to do with Web 2.0, and everything to do with Wall Street. Even before the mortgage bubble popped, launching the credit crisis, being showy with wealth just wasn't done in the circles Bob Lessin circulates in. Showing off your dad's sweet pad only seems like a good idea if you're a Harvard legacy in your early 20s. So is this the end of Web 2.0? Depends on what you mean by "Web 2.0." No one can quite agree. User-generated content? It's cheaper than the professionally generated kind; in recessionary times, it seems like it's here to stay. Likewise the fad for creating programmable interfaces for websites; getting coders to volunteer their time to make your product better sure sounds better than hiring them. No, the real test is whether this millennial generation will continue posting videos when they don't have splashy trips to celebrate. Will they continue updating friends with every change in their status, when the news isn't that they've gotten hired, launched a company, bought something expensive? When their buddies can't find work, when their startups run out of money, when they start leaving town en masse, what will they do? Promise to stay Facebook friends?

Google guys get yet another jet

Owen Thomas · 10/03/07 02:42PM

How many planes does one man need? Or, more precisely, three men? Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin already own, with CEO Eric Schmidt, an extensively remodeled 767, pictured here in New Zealand. Schmidt, by himself, owns at least one Gulfstream V (some reports say he has two). But we now hear that the Google trio are buying a 757. While smaller than the widebody 767, the 757 is still a commercial airliner, considerably bigger than most private jets. So why would Page, Brin, and Schmidt need four planes between them?

Even in Silicon Valley, you can't expense tuition

Mary Jane Irwin · 09/26/07 01:00PM

It's easy to get a little expense report-happy when faceless shareholders are footing the bill, but $90,000? That's no round of after-work drinks. Bernadette Escue allegedly wracked up these exorbitant fees on her Network Appliance corporate card. A travel manager at the Sunnyvale data center, Escue came under suspicion on allegations of wire fraud after a $12,000 tuition charge for San Francisco's Drew Preparatory School showed up on the corporate tab.