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New Offices - Apple to Google

Posted on by Brandon Klein

It is commonly assumed that the critical moment in Google's ascent to global search hegemony came in October 2000, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin first deployed the AdWords system that made their innovation worth an absolute fortune. And this, certainly, was an important step along the way. But there's another persuasive analysis that suggests that in fact, the most significant foundation for the company's success was laid about a month later, when a dilapidated Del Monte canning factory in California was bought by one Steve Jobs.

Jobs spent $5.8m on the building when he needed a new home for Pixar, which he had acquired in 1986 when it was primarily known for its work producing commercials. He said he thought the place was “haunted and creepy,” but it didn’t really matter. Initially, the plan had been to house computer scientists, animators, and managers in separate facilities, but its new owner had other ideas. He configured the old factory as one enormous space, centred on an atrium, which you couldn’t traverse the building without crossing. He put the mailboxes in the atrium. He put the café there. He put the gift shop there. He put the only set of toilets there. And that was about it. All in all, it didn’t seem like the sort of masterplan that would still be making waves more than a decade later.