Google’s starring role with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson not likely to be revealing

So even Google, which is not known for openness, can be tempted by the promise of a starring role on the silver screen.

Bloomberg news reports that the Mountain View company known for keeping its secrets — important and mundane — to itself and carefully managing its public image, has “turned over its campus to Vince Vaughn and a team of Hollywood filmmakers.” They plan to use the Googleplex as a backdrop in the upcoming movie, “The Internship,” described by Bloomberg as a “comedy about jobless, tech-challenged fortysomethings.”

Could be the first time a fortysomething actually steps foot on the campus. Kidding Kidding.

Anyway, lest you think Google is solely smitten with stardom, it’s more likely the move is the ultimate in product placement for the search giant. No, Google doesn’t need to get its name in front of consumers. But with the hiring wars in Silicon Valley heating up, it does need to get its name in front of brilliant 20-somethings (a Vaughn and co-star Owen Wilson demographic) who are looking for a good excuse to drop out of college and become fabulously rich.

Apparently, the film will feature the fun side of Google, which in real life includes  good and free food, free rides to work, tennis courts, a horseshoe pit, shuffleboard courts, bocce ball, colorful bikes and on and on.

As Vaughn told Bloomberg TV:

“It was ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ or the ‘Chocolate Factory. Such a different place to work at than what is considered a traditional work environment, with the nap pods and the access to food, and of course the intramural sports on campus and massages and all that kind of stuff.”

The Bloomberg story doesn’t say anything about what conditions Google placed on the filmmakers, but let me take a wild guess and say there are some.  Like a number of valley companies (anybody heard of Apple?) Google is a company that discloses very little about itself, other than when it is pushing one of its products or causes.

I recently asked a Google PR person if she could tell me what outerspace-crazed Google’s plans were for the recent Bay Area flyover of the space shuttle Endeavour. After all, the Googleplex was practically in the thing’s flight path and Google keeps its corporate air force at Moffett Field, one of the designated low flyover spots.

“We don’t have anything to share about NASA’s flight,” came back Google’s written and fairly typical response.

I once attended an education conference at Google that included a tour of the campus (almost entirely outdoors). Those on the tour were told not to talk to Google employees they might encounter and to take pictures only in areas that the tour guide had expressly approved for picture taking. Oh, and what was said on the Google tour, stayed on the Google tour.

I’m not saying other companies don’t go to similar lengths to massage their public images and at least Google is nice about it. (Don’t be evil and all that.)

I’m just saying that there is no way the company is going to let anything show up in “The Internship” that doesn’t benefit Google’s agenda.




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  • EvanVanVan

    I’m sorry I stopped reading at this stupid comment, “So even Google, which is not known for openness…”

  • JT Dobson

    @EvanVanVan, Agreed. That comment was completely unnecessary. Not only that, it is completely backwards and inaccurate. Google is one of the most open corporations of our time. Who else publishes the full unedited source code to mobile platform only to have it used by competitors and have it dissected by patent trolls? Google isn’t going to tell us how to game their SEO / PageRank algorithms (for obvious reasons) but to say that they’re NOT KNOWN FOR OPENNESS is an indication that the author (A) out of touch or (B) has stock in Apple.

    • JT, I guess my post was a little fuzzy. I wasn’t talking about what Google does with its source code. Publishing it for others to use is smart business on their part. And of course, spilling the beans on the SEO algorithms would be decidedly bad business on their part.
      I was talking more about the apparent incongruity of a company that jealousy guards its privacy (in terms of what it shares with the public) agreeing to be the location for a major motion picture. I thought it was kind of fun to speculate as to why Google would do something that seems so counter to its culture.
      Evan, if I read a blog post that was in its entirety a sentence fragment, I’d think it was stupid, too.
      Thanks to both of you for weighing in.