(A Bit of) A Day in the Life of Google Earth

Time has a “who’s who” look at Google with a little snippet on Google Earth:

When Google hires someone, it generally isn’t for a specific job. The idea is to bring in talent that can be slotted wherever there’s a need. A new Googler might be placed on a team developing search applications for mobile phones and, when that project is done, help write code for, say, a video-search prototype. Chikai Ohazama runs the team developing Google Earth, the company’s mesmerizing satellite-imagery application. Ohazama, a software engineer, was a co-founder of Keyhole, the firm that developed the technology, which Google acquired two years ago. On a recent afternoon he sits with his team in a conference room brainstorming new applications. Google Earth has to be seen to be appreciated: it seamlessly brings together images of the globe taken from above. You can zoom in to see your house or pull back for a broad view of the city or the country or the world. Google is trying to figure out how to make money from the free service, and for now it is throwing engineers at the problem. It’s similar to Google’s origins: first perfect the technology, then figure out the business plan. Ohazama gets reports from a series of team members: a woman has figured out how to superimpose U.S. hiking trails on the images. Another is adding in ferry routes. A third reports he’s struggling to get data on the terrain in Connecticut. Despite some glitches, Ohazama urges the team to press on: “It’s fine to make mistakes for now,” he says, “until the point where we have to turn it on.”

I’m most enamoured the “first perfect the technology, then figure out the business plan.”


Published Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Written by Adena Schutzberg