Friday, 1 December 2023
A Google office has to meet a series of expectations: an original design, lots of colour, geeky details, table football and video games available to employees, a wide selection of free food, as well as other facilities and services designed for the leisure and relaxation of employees, from gyms to massage rooms.
Google's new cybersecurity centre in Malaga meets these standards, even though it is small in size compared to other Google offices. But in addition, due to its location and the unique nature of the building, there are a number of peculiarities that may surprise visitors:
The 'Malaga' feeling of this office is evident from the moment you enter. The ground floor rooms have been given very local names: the training room is called Aliquindoi (a local expression); the cafeteria and dining areas are called Merendero and Espeto (in honour of beach restaurants with their skewered sardines); the relaxation area is called Chambao (a local group). The theatre, in honour of the largest meeting room the firm Virustotal (the Malaga firm bought by Google) used to have in its old office, has been named Moraga (a beach party).
These names are not the only tributes to Malaga. In the 'microkitchen', on the first floor (the place where employees can have a coffee or a snack between meals), the 'doodle', a tribute to the Malaga espeto , is on display. In addition, the floor in the 'microkitchen' is inspired by the mural decoration of the Church of San Juan.
2 Passion for videogames
While the ground floor is dominated by names inspired by Malaga's cultural nuances, on the first floor the main attractions are classic video games. There are meeting rooms dedicated to Mario Bros, Space Invaders, Final Fantasy or Monkey Island. There are also arcade machines for the most nostalgic gamers. In addition, to make sure you do not forget where you are, there are also rooms named after famous viruses such as Wannacry, Stuxnet or Mirai.
A game of table football is usually part of any self-respecting 'cool' office, but in the case of Virustotal it was not there as just a piece of furniture: its longest-serving employees - with boss Bernardo Quintero - have been fighting fierce battles since the very beginning. In the new office there is a new table football, but the 'Googlers' from Malaga remain loyal to the old one, which comes from a villa in El Candado where Virustotal operated in its first phase with Google. This beloved table football has already survived two moves.
4 The world's most infected computer
At GSEC Malaga they can boast having a very unique item: the "most infected computer in the world". It is a PC that Virustotal's experts thoroughly infected for a good cause: an educational project that they exhibited a few months ago at DES, with the aim of informing and raising awareness about how the different types of malware work. The PC has thirty different kinds of malware running at the same time, from a classic 80s virus to a worm, a banking Trojan, a fake antivirus, an exploit or adware. In addition, it has more than six million pieces of malware lying dormant on the system waiting to be activated.
In the canteen area of Google's new office there is an unusual detail related to the origins of the building. It is a pair of framed stained glass windows, where you can see a capital G and a capital M in flowery calligraphy. The obvious thing to think would be that they are the initials of Google Málaga... But in fact, they are stained glass windows that were salvaged from the rubble of the original building when the structure was demolished: the G and the M stand for Military Government (Gobierno Militar).
On the roof of the building there is an eye-catching mural reinterpreting the famous Google 'doodle' by Víctor García (Play In Colors). The Malaga-born artist also came up with the geometric design on the floor, made from painted wooden slats, as well as the mural decoration of the auditorium, made from handmade bricks by Todobarro.
"Food is very important at Google," said GSEC Malaga's program manager Paloma Simón as she showed off the canteen. It is not just a place where Googlers have coffee and lunch; it is a place for meetings or chatting and is open to visitors. There is a reason that most Googlers are said to gain a few kilos in the first year of working at the company. "We try to make sure that the food is healthy, local and organic," said Simón. In addition to the canteen, which also extends onto the terrace, employees have the 'microkitchens' available to them, which is another Google tradition. There they can make themselves a coffee or grab a soft drink and have a snack at any time.
At Virustotal, 'trolling' the boss was a tradition. Bernardo Quintero was always in favour of joking around with his employees. On the first day they moved into a new building, the boss found a banner hung in the auditorium saying "Welcome to your castle, King". It was a new step in an ongoing joke the employees had been playing on him, ever since a newspaper article had called him "king of cybersecurity". The banner now sits as a decoration in one of the office rooms.
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