Why open source developers can be more productive, and other tales from a Google open house

by Andy Oram

Yesterday Google celebrated the opening of a larger Cambridge, Massachusetts office, which takes up a substantial part of a building right next to the Kendall/MIT subway stop in the higher-than-high tech area of East Cambridge. I got a look at their new Friend Connect service (covered in a related Radar blog) and heard some fascinating comments that the staff kindly let me reproduce here.

Google staff certainly know how to say the right things and react in ways I approve to the situations Google finds itself in. More and more people I know (including authors) are Google employees, which is statistically predictable because more and more people in general are Google employees. The Cambridge office has been growing wildly since it began with the purchase of the company that created Android. And this office is one of 45 Google offices around the world.

This raises the question of whether the empire can be supported through continued sales of advertising, and whether Google's stated openness carries through to employee behavior on the ground. I explored these questions with managers and staff at


2008-05-14 12:21:55
"Google likes hiring programmers who contribute to open source projects because they’re more self-motivated."

Sadly, many of those programmers pass the event horizon of the Google black hole, and the open source world rarely hears from them again.

2008-05-16 07:22:06
It seems Google has discovered the practises 3M and HP have been using for years: require your employees to spend some of their time on their own projects.