Google takes a bigger bite of Big Apple

If Google can make it here, it can make it anywhere. The company opens new digs in Manhattan. Photos: New York gets a mini Googleplex

Google, headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., is hoping to make it big in New York City.

After a year of speculation, the company on Monday officially opened a new, bigger and more Google-y office in the Big Apple in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan.

The company, which has had an advertising sales presence in Manhattan since 2000, moved its more than 500 New York City employees into the new office at 111 Eighth Ave. and invited the press to take a sneak peek at its new digs. The office, specially designed and built for Google, houses the company's largest advertising sales team. And it's also home to the largest engineering group outside of the main office in Mountain View, Calif.

Google in N.Y.

While Google is a global company with 8,000 employees throughout the world, New York City has become a key location--both in terms of generating revenue and developing new products. And the company is hoping to expand its headcount in the New York office during the next couple of years, executives said.

Google's New York-based advertising team has been instrumental in securing big partnerships, including recent deals with MySpace and AOL, said Tim Armstrong, vice president of advertising sales.

Google added an engineering staff to New York City in 2003. Since then, more than 100 engineering projects have been housed in New York, including: Google Maps, Google Spreadsheets, parts of Google Checkout, Google Blog Search and Google Mobile Search.

Craig Nevill-Manning, engineering director in New York for Google, said that New York City is ripe with software engineering talent.

"There are great computer software engineers who don?t want to move to California," he said. "So we are opening up facilities wherever there are great software engineers, including New York City, Bangalore and Tokyo."

The company, which had occupied four floors of office space at 1440 Broadway in Times Square, has almost triple the amount of square footage in its new location. The new office space covers about 300,000 square feet over three floors. But unlike its previous home in Times Square, most employees will be housed on one floor, which Nevill-Manning said will allow employees to collaborate on projects, accelerating development time and spurring innovation.

The office space at 111 Eighth Ave., which real estate experts estimate is costing the company $10 million a year in rent, is similar in design and functionality to its headquarters in Mountain View. This includes a fully equipped game room that would make any high school boy drool. Foosball, air hockey, ping-pong and pool tables are all available for employees to take a break and "blow off some steam." The room also has a video game area, bean bag chairs, massage chairs and even a full basketball hoop setup.

Just like employees in Mountain View, employees in the New York office also have free food available to them any time of day or night. There are several smaller kitchens throughout the main floor stocked with drinks, snacks and cereal. There is also a "micro-cafe" offering breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The company is also building a bigger cafeteria staffed with a full-time chef that will occupy an entire floor. It will open in November.

The move to the new office space, which also happens to sit atop one of the largest fiber-optic crossroads for Internet and telephone communications in Manhattan, has spurred much speculation that Google is planning to build a massive data center. The idea is that Google could connect its servers directly into the fiber-optic communications network at 111 Eighth Ave., allowing the company to bypass networks owned and operated by the phone companies.

For the past couple of years, Google has been buying "dark," or unused, fiber-optic cabling across the country. It is also helping fund and build wireless access networks in several cities, including Mountain View and San Francisco. And it has invested in several companies developing alternatives for delivering broadband services. One of these investments is in Current Communications Group, which uses a technology called broadband over power line to deliver Internet access over the nation's electrical power grid.

Nevill-Manning denied that the company's new office will be used for anything other than software development and sales efforts.

"We have no plans to build a data center here," he said. "We plan to fill this office with people, not machines. It's kind of expensive real estate for a data center."

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