Bus 1 - The Most Innovative and 'Googley' Work Environment

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Greetings! I'm Alec, a student at NYU and a Google Student Ambassador with a passion for Internet policy reform. On the third day of our trip to Israel, our group visited Google's beautiful Tel Aviv office to learn about Israel's thriving tech scene. As a SF Bay Area native who migrated to New York City for college, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of these unique tech hubs through my internships at Google and NYC Digital. Even though I have read about Tel Aviv's recent influx of engineering talent, the city was never on my radar as a destination for employment, simply because I presumed the culture would be inaccessible to outsiders. I couldn't have been more mistaken.

We arrived at Google Tel Aviv and were blown away by the marvelous view of the sprawling city. The offices occupy seven floors of one of the tallest skyscrapers in the city. Each floor has a unique theme, inspired by aspects of local Israeli identity; a practice that is shared between all Google offices throughout the world. Google is well renowned for its creative company culture, and I was pleased to discover that their Tel Aviv office was the most innovative and 'Googley' work environment I've seen to date.

After snapping several pictures inside the beautiful lobby and enjoying delicious fruits and pastries provided by Google, we were welcomed by Reut, an Industry Analyst who gave our group a detailed presentation on Google's business model and how AdWords and other products enable local Israeli companies to compete in the global marketplace. Many of these businesses are tech startups that provide services that are used by millions in the United States. During Reut's presentation, I was surprised to learn that it is common for Israelis to work on Sundays; a standard for productivity that may allow Israeli businesses to out-maneuver their competitors abroad.

I was most amazed by the depth of Google's commitment to cultural projects. At the expense of the company, Google creates numerous cultural projects, such as digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls, honoring the life and work of Nelson Mandela, and virtualizing interactive tours of the world's largest museums. Other corporations have followed suit and deployed their own programs out of social accountability, but Google's catalog of knowledge and interactive technologies give it a unique ability to level the playing field and connect users in any country with relevant information.

This experience opened my eyes to Israel's competitive edge in the technology industry and how multinational companies have integrated themselves with the local culture. I'm excited to see Tel Aviv's tech scene grow and the innovations in software that will arrive with it.

Alec Foster is a junior at NYU studying Political Communications and Cybersecurity. He is the Executive Director of Student Internet Alliance, the only internet policy organization empowering students to drive action in their communities using technology. Alec also sits on the Board of Directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy where he created and implemented Good Samaritan policies in New York State and at NYU. Previously, Alec interned at The White House, NYC Digital and Google, and studied away in Spain, Brazil, and Washington D.C. Alec was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys longboarding, attending concerts, and making internet memes.

Follow the trip on Twitter using #IsraelUncovered; on Facebook; on our blog, where students and staff members will be writing posts during and after the trip.