There is a somewhat interesting piece in the New York Times today that doesn’t dwell on Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, Android, OpenSocial or the pending 700MHz wireless spectrum auction.
The story details an online prediction market Googlers are running and a study done by some economists on patterns regarding this fun gambling.
Apparently, almost 1,500 Googlers made wagers with play money called Goobles on business-oriented questions like: Will Google open a Russia office? How many users will Gmail have at the end of the quarter?
The study, “Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google,” looked at the betting patterns of employees and their demographic details to try to find common factors.
Not surprisingly, the report found that the strongest correlation in betting was among people who sat very close to one another. The conclusion was that office neighbors willingly share information easily, more so than even friends.
Why, sure they do. Remember what Google’s culture is like? It’s patterned after a college university. Not only do they have all sorts of recreational toys there, including pools, volleyball courts and bikes and scooters to help staffers get from one building to another, but the areas where they work are not unlike dorm rooms.
Like the rooms in a dorm, the cubicles and offices are packed pretty tight; users have contests to decorate their cubes and offices. That Googlers sitting close together would share some commonalities in betting, or thinking, is no shocker.
Think back to when you were in a dorm room. These people may not have been your best friends, but it wasn’t uncommon to discuss what was going on around campus, right? Last night’s basketball game, concert or movie shown on campus were common sources of conversational fodder.
You can bet that for Googlers, water cooler talk about the latest Google-tailored app for the iPhone (Apple technologies are almost criminally popular among Googlers) and the My Location pseudo-GPS service are hot topics for people who want to show each other how they use the new technologies on iPhones and BlackBerrys.
When I spent a day out there last month, my PR guide and I encountered a couple groups of PR people in one of the 17 cafeterias on campus. The enterprise PR people sat together and the search PR people sat together, little friendly cliques of public relations.
As for the betting, here’s one they can really have fun with: who will be the next high-profile executive to leave. Adam Bosworth, Chris Sacca and several other guys have fled Google for startups or new projects of late. Googlers can go for more Goobles by correctly guessing what executive will be the next to leave.
Bonus points go to those who can correctly guess why, though if anyone can guess that it would be impressive. Google seems as fun a place to work as any.