Google Bought Me! The First Two Days

09 Sep 2011

For the past several months, I’ve been playing Operations Developer for “Zagat Survey”:, taking care of the production website infrastructure, expanding our internal development environments, acting as liason to our hosting provider, and performing some light scripting tasks to glue it all together. If you’ve talked to me in the past 2 days, you already know this. If you don’t, perhaps you read the news. If you live in a hole, or maybe you just ignore what Google is doing, you might be interested to know that Google has “purchased”: my current (former?) employer.

Rewind about 2 weeks. I’m tasked with ensuring that our homepage, and only our homepage can withstand five times our normal traffic. Why? Apparently, it’s the imminent release of the next New York restaurant guide. Ok, I’ll believe that. Sure enough, the site doesn’t fall over. I report the good news. Life continues on.

Back to this week. On Wednesday, things start to get a little suspicious. Unfamiliar people start to infiltrate the office and walk around as if they’re scoping out the employees, and the office space. Wednesday night, my project manager texts me and reassures me that I should be ignoring notifications from our hosting provider that our staging environment is down. Weird, but I let it slide.

Thursday morning, one of our architects has beaten me into the office. I usually arrive first in the office at 8AM, and he’s usually in by 10. This morning, he says he’s been in since 7AM. Very odd. At 10:55, Nina Zagat sends a company wide email informing us in large capital letters that there’s a meeting in 5 minutes in the IT area. At this point, the announcement of “the biggest news of the 32 year history of Zagat” comes as no shock that Zagat has been purchased… but by Google? Wow. My nerdy dream come true.

Marissa Mayer, the Vice President of Location and Local Services gives us all a hurray, a thank you, and a short welcome speech, followed by similar adulation from Bernardo Hernández and a few footnotes by an HR rep. Everyone from Google is thrilled, as are of course Tim and Nina, who almost certainly pocketed large sums of money as signing bonuses to become Googlers.

The important takeaway from this meeting: Google culture is being “imposed” upon us. That means at the least, breakfast and lunch is served daily. Let’s not mess around. This was good food, catered from a nearby shop.


Marissa impresses upon us the fact that they’re interested in leaving as much of our current processes in place and merely bolstering our efforts with Google’s resources. That’s all well and good, but let’s see what the future brings in terms of integration with the Googleplex.

The afternoon is filled with single department meetings, one after another, to allay everyone’s fears of downsizing and to answer some other menial questions to the best of their knowledge. They’re clearly more prepared than we are. They’ve had almost a month to mull over this decision after roughly 3 months of internal planning.

Friday is seemingly back to normal with a hint of “wtf just happened?” still in the air. Wait, where’s my breakfast? Did Google stiff me? Is it really too much to ask for your employer to provide two square meals a day? Come on now… Okay, okay, it was a goof on Bernardo’s part. That all starts on Monday. Being the sole individual with proper knowledge of the production infrastructure, my inbox slowly fills with integration meeting invites over the course of the afternoon. Next week should be interesting.

At 4pm, Tim and Nina show up with the Google crew, and with them comes food. Oh, and booze. This is a typical Friday at Google.



In addition, there’s a bit of trivia and lava lamps, USB Google desk lamps, and plush androids are awarded.


Everyone gets a t-shirt with Google from the front, and ZAGAT across the back. Awesomeness. The mood in the room is upbeat, with lots of excitement.

While I can’t officially call Google my employer until the 6-8 week transition is through, I’m rather optimistic. My presence at the upcoming integration meetings with the remainder of the crowd being senior management is reassuring. Google is of course interested in new our vehicle for survey dissemination – the 5.0 website we redesigned and launched in February of this year. All this seems to hint towards IT being safe.

It’ll be hard to say that we’re back to “business as usual” on Monday, but I’ll do my best. I wonder what they’ll serve for breakfast…

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