YOU COULD WORK HERE: Tour Skype's Beautiful New Offices

Skype sign

Photo: Matt Rosoff

Now that Skype is finally free from eBay and getting ready to do an IPO as an independent company, the company is planning a major expansion.It wants to hire 350 new employees this year, growing its headcount by about 50%. Most of the new hires will be engineers, and a lot of them will focus on improving Skype for business use and on mobile phones.

Hiring good engineers isn’t easy with the talent war going on in Silicon Valley, and an important element of recruiting is having a cool place to work.

Skype’s California offices were spread between two makeshift locations, including an old house on the eBay campus in San Jose. So last year it scouted locations up and down Silicon Valley, and finally decided on a Palo Alto building that had recently been vacated by VMware. Skype gutted it and redesigned it from scratch, then moved in December.

The space is still mostly empty, with lots of room to expand, but it looks like a pretty sweet place to work.

The lobby sets the tone with a high-definition TV screen -- they're all over the place inside.

Behind the receptionist's desk, a mosaic of faces. It's copied from Skype's Luxembourg office.

After the lobby, you pass a wall-sized map of imagined Skype nodes in the U.S.

The inside of each phone booth has a big Skype emoticon to watch over you.

Here are a couple more phone booths. The workspace in front has a video camera -- for Skype calls, of course.

Here's a spot where people can gather around, plug their laptops into the A/V outlets in the middle, and give demonstrations on the screen.

Whiteboards are all over the place -- and they're all detachable, so engineers can take ideas back to their desks with them.

Hang out in the lounge, check your look in the mirrors.

Four clocks on the wall outside the cafeteria, with their times set to California, London, Luxembourg, and Tallinn -- Skype's four main locations.

These video screens pull down over the clocks, and are used for weekly all-employee conferences among multiple offices.

Chairs that look like rocks, a conference room made of wine casks, and great views of California green space.

Every conference room has a huge screen and camera for video chat as well.

All the conference rooms are named after great surfing spots. This is Malibu.

The board room is named after Mavericks, one of the craziest surf spots in the world. The actual Mavericks is about 10 miles to the west, near Half Moon Bay.

Here's the inside of the board room.

The wall outside the board room is made of oak pieces used in wine making.

Here's another lounge with a PlayStation 3.

The standard Foosball table... to a very non-standard wall of red phones. They were actually left behind by the last tenant, VMWare.

It's the kind of workplace where people shoot Nerf darts.

A designer took these photos of the space before Skype moved in and made them into an art display.

The old space was pretty ugly. Lots of orange.

Somebody important demanded that a T-Rex appear at least once in the office. Here he is.

The red mesh thing is a chair... falls back when you sit in it. Here's faciliites manager Dena Quinn showing how it works.

Doesn't it make you want to go outside?

Yes, it does. Here's the view from the deck of the nearby Stanford Research Park, with the San Mateo mountains in the background.

Now, take a look around another company that will IPO this year...

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