Working at Google is seen by many as the dream job, with more than two million people applying for a job at the internet giant each year.
Today, Google employs thousands of people in London, working on everything from Google Maps to Android Wear. But some of them are leaving to get a taste of startup life.
Several “Googlers” in the English capital have shunned their jobs at Google in favour of building their own startup. And interestingly, some of them are now using “Campus,” Google’s startup space in East London, which has been refurbished in the last couple of months, to help them get their businesses off the ground.
“Oh my god, the number of ex-Googlers who work in this building [Campus] is quite overwhelming,” said Sarah Drinkwater, head of Campus at Google, during an interview with Business Insider at Campus. “I used to work on Google Maps, on the engineering team, and I’m constantly bumping into ex-engineers in the cafe. It’s quite funny.”
Campus is a five-storey building near Old Street Roundabout and in the heart of the original “Tech City.” The bottom floor has a cafe and working area that can be used by anyone who registers online for a free pass. The second and third floors are home to paying TechHub members, while the fourth is home to startup accelerator Seedcamp, and the fifth is used by Google to accommodate a small team of between five and 10 people. There is also a roof terrace that can only be accessed from the fifth floor.
Drinkwater added: “It’s like the accepted path. Googlers leave to start companies and startups.”
Take a quick tour:
Following up by email, Drinkwater gave a number of examples of former Google employees that now use Campus. She pointed to: Pete Johnstone, a former Google designer that launched enterprise tool Lystable; Rich Pleeth, a former Google marketing manager that launched communication app Sup; and Maxime Damagnez’s, a former social ads lead at Google that launched music startup La Touch.
Rich Pleeth told Business Insider: “Campus is an amazing place. You can always pop in and strike up a conversation with someone and share some problem with a Googler or fellow founder. The events at Campus are amazing. My fulltime office is RunwayEast, which is also brilliant but I still spend time at Campus as it’s great energy and access to past and present Googlers.”
Pleeth said he left Google because “it is such a large company now and with all large companies, politics and bureaucracy gets in the way of moving fast, from being able to launch an idea and set up a TV campaign it became layers and layers of management.”
Campus London turned three years old in 2015 and it now has over 50,000 members. Most of them, however, only use the facility from time-to-time.
According to the latest Campus impact report, which was released by Google this week, Campus members raised over £50 million for their companies in 2015, and created 1,040 new jobs.
The exact number of former Google employees that have signed up to Campus is unclear. “We don’t ask new members if they’re ex-Googlers when they sign up to Campus so can’t give an exact number,” Drinkwater said.
Several other ex-Googlers will soon be joining another London startup space, Drinkwater said. “[A] few [are] also due to be entering EF’s (Entrepreneur First) latest cohort soon too.”
After launching Campus in London in 2012, Google went on to expand the idea to Madrid (Spain), Seoul (South Korea), Tel Aviv (Israel), and Warsaw (Poland). Another Campus is due to open in Sao Paolo early 2016.
Campus sits under Google for Entrepreneurs and is funded by Google with an undisclosed amount, although a member of Google’s PR team that sat in on the interview with Drinkwater hinted that this figure could soon be revealed. Drinkwater told Business Insider last November: “Campus, and our work with startups, is simply our way of giving back — Google itself began in a garage 17 years ago and we now have the resources, skills and belief in the transformative power of entrepreneurship to help those who are at the start of their founder journey.”
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