Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area of California is home to many of the top technology companies in the world. The area hosts offices for Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft, eBay, and many others, along with thousands of start-up companies. These offices are known for their West Coast attitude and laid-back workplaces. The difference is more than just appearance, and it’s beginning to make an impression outside California.
Those of us on the — let’s say slightly stiffer — East Coast may wonder exactly how those company offices are different from the ones in the beautiful skyscrapers of New York City or even our own Jersey City. Well, some of the big name companies are bringing their offices and West Coast culture to the East Coast. Google and LinkedIn have both opened offices in New York City, and I had the pleasure of visiting the LinkedIn office recently. I can tell you it’s something to see. The technology is impressive, as is what appeared initially as a play-first-work-second atmosphere.
We found out that they may play, but they play to win. That’s one of the reasons why we want to work with LinkedIn on some joint endeavors. LinkedIn has a well-deserved reputation as the best business-to-business social media platform, boasting 350 million members worldwide, with more than 100 million of them in the United States. While exploring ways in which Verisk can use LinkedIn and its many in-house tools, we were given an eye-opening tour of the offices.
LinkedIn has four floors in the Empire State Building, and the atmosphere is both fast-paced and relaxed. I know that sounds contradictory, but the company provides lots of ways to cut down on the stress. For example, all of the conference rooms on one of the floors are named after Saturday Night Live comedians like Adam Sandler, Amy Poehler, Chris Farley, and others. And it was the first office I’ve seen anywhere where staff wore sandals and T-shirts and plied the hallways on scooters.
In addition, the company provides employees Starbucks coffee, Gatorade, Red Bull, Snapple, and just about any other beverage you can imagine — free. Free and quite tasty food is prepared for lunch, and if you’re in the mood for a snack, you can grab a Clif Bar or perhaps something less healthy from the fully stocked pantry at any time. The two most unexpected office features were the video game theater and Speak Easy bar. Our host brought us into a room covered wall to wall in old telephones, one of which acted as a handle that led into a lounge/bar area for employees to enjoy a drink or two during their weekly happy hour.
Overlying all the recreational fun and free food was the clear sense that the office was a place to get work done, with top-of-the-line technology making it both a fun and efficient environment. Throughout the office, which had open spaces without cubicles or personal workstations, employees were on laptops, tablets, and other portable technology, working hard.
LinkedIn is a major user of data. Similar to how Verisk Insurance Solutions uses data to create accurate reports and analytics, LinkedIn uses its data to make them the most valuable professional information database on earth. Verisk and LinkedIn are both leaders in our respective areas of big data, and it’s interesting to see how many ways that data can be used. LinkedIn gathers information based on your education, experience, and many other factors, and then uses it to place advertisements, suggest connections, and facilitate business among its members. Verisk uses the data our field analysts gather to create reports and predictive analytics on the cutting edge of the insurance industry.
It’s impressive to see how each company uses data to help its respective clients innovate and succeed. We’re looking forward to combining our talents on projects to our mutual benefit.