Breaking into Google Headquarters

In which I tempt the criminal justice system while flaunting the California statute of limitations.

Tagged: Security Stories

Fifteen years ago, a handful of my grad school labmates and I found ourselves at the brand new Googleplex. Dear reader, I think it’s finally safe for me to tell the story of that one time I trespassed into Google’s headquarters and took a bunch of pictures.

Google's then-new digs

It was 8pm on a Wednesday. I don’t think Google had finished moving to the new campus yet, so it was relatively quiet. We wanted to take a peek inside, but the lobby was locked and there was no one at the front desk. So we did what any reasonable group of bored grad students would have done: We loitered on the side of a footpath, waited for the inevitable, unsuspecting Google employee returning from dinner to burn the midnight oil at work, and tailgated the RFID-card-clutching-rube through a locked external door. The door opened into a stairwell, the interior door of which led to the main lobby.

Inexplicable rack

The lobby was odd, decorated with an unlabeled server rack, the cable management of which would make any sysadmin’s eyes bleed. We speculated that this might have been the rig that served the first version of Google, but there didn’t seem to be anything to confirm it. It was just a hacked together server rack filling a corner.

The reception desk

In case you doubted my claim that our story takes place during the heady days of 2004, the lobby was replete with a Segway parking area.

The reception desk

There was a large screen with a live stream of ostensibly unfiltered Google search queries. Despite being unstaffed, the computer at the reception desk was unlocked. So … there was no one to stop us from printing ourselves official Google visitor credentials.


Unfortunately, “God’s-gift-to-Google” didn’t entirely fit.

The guilty

Did I mention alcohol was involved? The identities of my accomplices have been hidden to protect the guilty. With our newly minted credentials, we made our way upstairs.

Brin and Page's shared office

We quickly stumbled upon Brin and Page’s shared office. Looks like they were Homestar Runner fans! Also, lol, jewel cases.

Peter Norvig's shared office

Another shared office filled with some big names, and space for one more.

Incriminating evidence

That’s some proprietary information right there! I guess Google hasn’t gotten to that giant space mirror yet. Finally, I leave you with the following whiteboard pic.

DT Datacenter
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