Tuesday, July 14, 2009

West Coast Notes

Many thanks to Larry Baer, President of the San Francisco Giants, for taking such good care of my daughter and me last Monday night. Not only did we have fabulous seats right next to the home dugout, but the game was thrilling. Third baseman Pablo "Pancho" Sandoval is a local favorite and up and coming star. The Giants were trying to get him a place on the MLB All-Star team because he is hitting about .330 and has nearly 20 home runs.

As Sandoval stepped to the plate in the fourth inning, the bases were juiced. From my third row seat I yelled, "Hey Pablo, if you want to be an All-Star, hit a home run!" With a crack of the bat Sandoval drilled the next pitch into the left field stands for a grand slam home run. The crowd went crazy as Sandoval circled the bases an went into the dugout. Giant Manager Bruce Bochy straddled the first step of the dugout and patted Sandoval on the back as he went by. At that point I yelled into the dugout, "Curtain call, curtain call!" Bochy looked at me, then signaled to his hero to come out and take a bow. Sandoval modestly stepped out of the dugout and tipped his hat to the adoring crowd. The Giants went on the beat the Florida Marlins 5-3.

A few days later we headed south to Carmel-on-the-Sea. What a beautiful, picturesque jewel of a town. Here we stayed at L'Auberge, which is more of an in than a hotel. It is located in town just around the corner from the shops and next door to City Hall, where Clint Eastwood ruled as mayor twenty years earlier. We could see the ocean from our delightfully European style room.

We took a day trip to Google's main campus in Mountain View, about ninety minutes north. Andrew Pederson, a Google spokesmen, took us for a tour of the sun drenched facilities.

Originally built by SGI, a dozen buildings of glass and steel sit on several acres of beautifully groomed property. Company issue blue and white bikes are parked near entrances for easy commuting around the grounds. I spotted a volleyball court and at least two small powered swimming pools. The denizens mostly appeared to be in the twenties and thirties. Blue jeans, T-shirts and running shoes were the attire of choice.

On the tour we frequently came upon cafeterias filled with free food and drinks. "It is better to keep everyone close to their work and well fed," observed our tour guide. There was only one vending machine on the lot and here purchases were priced according to the amount of calories they had. White boards hung on walls throughout the facility. Lots of white and yellow permeated the walls and windows, very pleasant work environment. In fact there were several tents like structures for employees to work in.

Google does more than $20 billion in annual revenues, which is great for a company barely a decade old. It's three main businesses are search, ads and aps. Google has more than 60% of the global search business, though they are keeping a close eye on Microsoft's launch of its new search engine "Bing." Ads generate most of the company's revenue. And aps are a small but rapidly growing market. Google is always reviewing their strategy including "mobile" delivery of content.

We saw a live global representation of search demand in every language. Selective queries were shown on the screen. At another point we came across a rack of servers that had been constructed by Sergei Brin and Larry Page to begin Google. They started as students at their Stanford University dorm and moved to a friends garage. Now their creation is part of the English language. To learn more about their fascinating story, just Google them.

As a foot note, we ran across some seals and surfers on the beach at Carmel. And we watched a magnificent sunset over the Pacific. I never tire of mother nature's creations.

No comments: