On track to add 300 jobs, spread over five areas of work
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Santa paid a visit to Google in Zurich 12 December, the day the company’s Zeitgeist, or “trending” list as defined by Google searches, was released. The present he had in his sack was widespread praise for a product the Zurich team has helped develop, the new Google maps app for iPhone, released in the US the previous day.
Google Europe’s five focuse areas, all expanding
Google’s California team, 1,500-strong, gets most of the attention from tech media, who are largely based in the US.
But the Zurich team has grown from 700 to more than 800 (end November) in the past nine months and it is preparing to welcome more staff.
The company has taken over a neighbouring building that formerly housed Ernst & Young, which last year decided to move closer to the Zurich train station.
The adjacent building will allow Google Europe to hire 300 employees in coming months, the company said in March 2012.
This week a Google spokesperson told GenevaLunch.com that the company is on track to expand its staff.
Google Europe is deeply involved in developing mapping, but the new “Googlers” won’t all be mappers. The jobs will be spread among the five current Zurich office focus areas as needed: search, geo, ads, apps, YouTube.
Innovations from Zurich
Some of the work covers continual improvements, notably for search, to “drive people to what they are looking for” and to make the infrastructure reliable and scalable, but several of Google’s innovations have come out of Zurich.
- The Calendar and Tasks teams are based in Zurich and teams work on some of Gmail’s key features including Priority Inbox and account abuse protection.
- Google Geo: the team is developing public transport and journey information; Zurich is the launchpad for local Google Maps services in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe.
- YouTube: Zurich engineering focuses on technologies and innovations for users, content creators and advertisers; their work includes Content ID and YouTube monetization products.
Indoor maps, a rapid growth area
The geo group has recently been involved in developing the indoor part of Google mobile maps, which to date cover the following, with the inside of Zurich airport on the way. The maps are available for Android but not iPhone, but checking out the Zurich airport app on a staff phone while visiting Google, it seemed clear the demand will be forceful enough to encourage Google to get it onto the iPhone maps soon!
And zooming in to view the departments within a giant Media Markt made it clear why this is so handy for mobile phone users. Google staff are working with a number of companies and outlets to build the indoor maps.
Android Swiss indoor maps are available for:
La Praille (Geneva)
Shopping Arena (St Gallen)
St. Jakobshalle (Basel)
Shopping Center St Jakobs-Park (Basel)
Also check out French indoor maps.
Impossible to visit Google and not mention the office space, ethic!
Google Zurich, like its counterpart office in California and other high tech companies there offers perks and a work ethic that has many non-Googlers green with envy, from the cafeteria to the work spaces to the work-when-it-suits-you hours.
But Matthias Meyer, head of corporate communications, points out that engineers are drawn to the Zurich office for the “global perspective and opportunities”. A large part of this is a close working relationship with EPFL in Lausanne and its Zurich counterpart, ETH. More than a third of engineers in Zurich have a PhD. The products built in Zurich are very much global. Company employees have 75 nationalities.
Nevertheless, even Santa enjoys the fireman’s pole that drops you into the cafeteria without having to wait for the elevator, the whiteboard walls that you can write on, and the cozy library.
This last one comes as a surprise to outsiders, filled with overstuffed chairs and old-fashioned lamps, board games and real live print books (some tech, some murder mysteries). It might not be reason enough to work at Google, but given its popularity with staff and their families, it sure doesn’t hurt.
Ed. note: for security reasons, Google does not allow anyone to photograph inside the building. Photos below were supplied by Google.
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Life in the Google lane, Zurich