Not All Tech Companies Are Alike

1/18/12

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free food and people under 30 in tee-shirts and jeans everywhere. They had a saying there that you are never more than 100 steps away from food.

It was clear that employees at both companies spend so much time at work that their cubicles are like second homes. I’ve never seen so many collections of Transformers toys, Pez dispensers, and bobbleheads in the workplace.

The Google campus was also remarkable for its size. Employees actually need bikes to get around, which explains the multiple bike stations located on its grounds where workers can borrow company bikes to take them to their next location.

In contrast to Google and Facebook, some of the other companies we visited seemed much more mature. In other words, I saw people over 30 working there.

VMware was one of those more grownup companies without any huge chalkboards (like at Facebook) or whiteboards (like Amazon). But while that may sound like a drawback, it was actually a very impressive company. It was cool to see how excited the employees are about working at such a fast growing and innovative company. After that visit, it’s on my list of places I might like to work.

We also stopped at Symantec, which also felt kind of grownup. They have a reflecting pool. Enough said. But kidding aside, it’s probably a great place for working parents because of its decent work-life balance. There were no sweatshop jokes here.

As for sightseeing, there isn’t much to see in Silicon Valley except for maybe the tech companies’ campuses. There were some neat Android statues at Google as well as a huge T-rex dinosaur model that came from a museum.

So that brought us full circle back to Boston where we visited several startups located throughout the city and saw that the tech industry is alive and well here.

Jumptap had a lot of cubicles, but was pretty normal compared to some of the quirky tech companies we had just visited on the West Coast. Skyhook was surprisingly intriguing in that it offers GPS without using actual GPS and is probably in your smartphone right now. They had pictures of their business as it has grown from its location in the founder’s house to the current posh office on Boston’s waterfront. I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in Skyhook, but left thinking that I might want to apply for a job there.

We also visited Google in Boston, which was the zaniest of all the Boston companies on our trek with dogs in many employees’ offices. At HubSpot, which was founded by two MIT alumni, we didn’t see rolling food carts everywhere, but they did have Slurpee (non-alcohol and alcohol versions available) and espresso machines as well as a refrigerator packed with beer for Friday night happy hours.

As a tech geek who is excited about this industry, the trek showed me the choices I have in terms of geography, but also the types of companies and cultures out there. There were places we visited where I don’t want to work, others where I would want to work—and I discovered some new companies that seem really interesting.

And with a background in finance, it was exciting to see that tech companies don’t necessarily care what field you come from. If you are intelligent and really want to work there, then these places have the opportunities. The hard part is picking the right one for you!

Kousha Bautista-Saeyan is a first-year MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow @

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