Visiting Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA

Everyone already knows how awesome it is to work at Google. When I visited their headquarters there were bike racks, people running around and jogging, a volleyball area and much more. If you are ever in California and wanting to visit Google Headquarters, make sure you talk with someone at the company first, before visiting. I didn’t want to just show up at their offices out of the blue, so I sent in a feedback form through Google Adwords admin area asking about visiting their offices and if any tours or anything were available, and I received the following response.

While I was in San Francisco, CA for EliteRetreat, I already had my flight and hotel booked for a set amount of time. Once I heard that Google Headquarters was only about an hour away, I wanted to see what I could do about extedning my stay and visiting their headquarters. Instead of heading home Monday (as planned), I extended my hotel stay another night ($289), transferred my flight for a day later ($100 transfer fee per ticket) and rented a car to drive over to their offices ($100). I didn’t mind the additional costs of around $600 for the chance to visit Google, after all I’ve worked heavily with them over the years and always read about how great their company headquarters is.

Once Reena and I arrived at Google, we went to the visitor center and asked if they have any tours of if we could roam around and check out the location. The somewhat lifeless soul behind the desk said, “No, we are a closed campus. We don’t allow anything like that.”. I then asked if I could take a picture in front of their big Google sign in the visitor center… again she replied, “No, we don’t allow pictures here”.

Very frustrated and confused, I called Google Adwords support over the phone to see what the heck was going on. I was connected with someone at Google Adwords and went through the scenario with them and explained I was currently at their offices in California and was denied access. The representative I was talking to on the phone was located in the Boston Google offices, so she could not help. I also told her about the email from Google, telling me to visit their offices. She then put me on hold for a bit and back tracked that email response to Google support in India! (So basically the representative in India had no idea what she was saying). Lastly, she looked up my Adwords specialist linked to my account, and they had the day off… though I am sure that wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.

Before leaving Google, we decided to go to the main lobby and see if they could offer any light to the situation. Once again, almost as a lifeless soul, they answered with the same response. I noticed with both secretaries, once you stopped talking directly to the (and still standing at the desk), they would just go back to work and just ignore your existence… it was very odd, and disappointing. Even after I explained to them both I had done well over six figures with the company through Google Adsense and spent thousands upon thousands through Google Adwords, the response was still the same.

My “less than thrilled” picture at Google Headquarters.

In the end, we left Google with a sour taste in our mouths. I’ve heard about how people have had to sign disclaimers on how they can’t release any information when the visit the campus, but I wasn’t expecting such a cold response from everyone there, but mostly how badly I was miss informed by their Adwords support. If you are ever planning on visiting the Google Headquarters, make sure you have something in writing that is on staff that day, otherwise you might as well just be their competition.

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  1. The closest most people ever get to the campus is during the Google Dance at SES San Jose. If you have a rep on site you can also get in. Sorry to hear about your disappointing visit – you didn't look too thrilled in the pic. At least Elite Retreat was good…

  2. As much as I am disappointed at their response to you, it somehow doesn't surprise me. Google has always been pretty secretive about what they do, so it's understandable that they don't want some super affiliate lurking around their campus. But yeah, it still sucks.

  3. let's be honest, google's gone (or has been for a while now) corporate and that was a corporate reaction… "lifeless souls" are exactly what corporations are.

  4. Thats too bad you had to waste your time and money. As cool as they might sound, google is just another corporate giant like all the rest.

    1. After Google I headed over to eBay HQ, since they were only 20 mins away. Didn't go in, since I didn't feel like going through the same ordeal I did with Google, but they had a massive headquarters too, with a sports complex as well of course! Then we headed over to the SF Zoo… ended up being a good day anyway.

  5. WOW. Very disturbing. I have a few friends that work there and they say it is the best , most pleasant atmosphere to be in. I guess, only if you work there…. sorry to hear that.

    1. would one of your friends hook us up with a visit to Google? My contact just had a baby and the baby just came home this week and had a hard time. My family is here from Florida and Texas because my daughter's wedding was Sunday and we would really love to visit the campus. Thanks for any help you can throw my way.

  6. The email you got from India didn't read like an invitation to me. It was not enough information to just turn up anyway. The very least you should have done is contacted a specific person (ideally your Adwords account manager) so you had a name and a time.

  7. I'm honestly not surprised by the reaction you got. Google is a huge company, and huge companies just don't have that personal touch. The fact that your e-mail was answered from a tech support person in India shows this. She probably read your e-mail, and just copied and pasted a standard "we appreciate your business" response. That's why most of us don't want to work for big companies.

    – Dave

    1. Unfortunately it's true. Over the years I've seen so many companies that I worked closely with and they valued my business. Once the company is scooped up by another, you just become a number among millions.

    2. I'm an employee and am writing this as me, not as Google.

      We have an incredibly personal touch, provided that you're authenticated and have an actual appointment to come over and visit. While I may think that reading the email is less 'hey, come on over!' and more to 'here's the details, you can contact them,' that doesn't excuse the disconnect in the email. I'm not in Ads, but I hope this serves to improve the response.

      I think there are innumerable companies who would have provided a similar reception if one tries to get in armed with similar information.

      From where I sit, Google probably has a number of people who may try to door-crash because of who we are, and I like the policies and people that help prevent that. At the end of the day it's a really fun place but it's also a place where one has to get work done.

      Again, I think it's regrettable, but understandable.

      1. Thanks for the comment Brian. I was more disappointed than anything else. I was hoping someone with a past history and a decent amount of earnings/spending would have a better chance to meet with someone from the company, or at least one of the Adsense/Adwords team. Unfortunately the response I got from the receptionist, was they were too busy to deal with anyone without an appointment. In the end, I was in CA (I live in NJ), and I heard Google HQ was less than an hour away, so I took a shot at checking it out.

      2. @ Brian White

        Appointment or not, everyone who steps through that door should receive a warm/decent response. THERE IS NO EXCUSE for the "gate keeper" to behave like that… even at all mighty Google. Amazing how so many companies allow their lowest paid employees (receptionist, CSRs, cashiers, etc.,.) to handle their CUSTOMERS in this manner. Not having an appointment is no reason for the receptionist giving off an "i don't give a ___" attitude toward anyone.

  8. To be honest, I wouldn't have read that email you received as an invitation. It sounds more to me like 'here the office contact details, if you want to visit, get in touch with them'. It sounds more like a cut and paste email rather than an invitation to come on over and take a tour.

    I can understand why you'd be disappointed, but I can also see it from googles point of view. Everyones seen the photos of what its like to work there, it looks awesome, but I'm sure they also get a lot of people trying to get their foot in the door. If you'd been able to get through the door based on the info you'd given the receptionist, I would be very concerned about their security.

    1. I'll make sure to have an appointment or something in place next time. I was just unhappy with the overall response from both people at Google visitor/lobby desks. The woman I talked to on the phone for Google Adwords was very sympathetic and sorry about the whole situation, even though it wasn't her fault at all. She was trying to contact everyone she could, linking to my account.

  9. That is a shame you were mislead. I imagine a tour would be quite popular, and tbh, probably barely affect their working day.

  10. How did they mislead you? She gave you the address to contact them and thats it. You expected an adwords rep to schedule you a tour?

    You never spoke with anyone directly at that google location who could let you know how it works. Google is a company just like any other, not an amusement park, just because the employee perks are nice doesn't mean that they are going to have a guided tour.

  11. What do you expect from secretaries making $12 an hour? And when you tell them how much you made, I was thinking "no he didn't". That's pretty much the worst thing you could tell someone who makes $12 an hour. Haven't you seen those movies where a rich old guy doesn't get allowed into somewhere and starts going "Do you know who I am? How much money I make?". Same thing.

    If you had acted from a marketing standpoint, I'm sure you would have been given the grand tour by Larry and Sergey themselves.

    Do even know the secretaries name?

  12. You should have asked google whether all their offices are going to be of same type or not? As i had visited a blog camp in the newly opened Google office in Hyderabad, India.. And didnt feel like it was their built place, except their logo all over the walls.

  13. Surprised to hear about your disappointing trip to google. When I went I was Joe Nobody and they treated me like a king -2 hour tour and all. Maybe you got there too late. They probably all go home at 3 and play video games, or poker

    1. Unfortunately I planned the day out and got there very early, I was there around 10am. Then headed over to eBay, then lunch and the San Fran Zoo.

    2. Hi,

      I am planning to take my HighSchool students from Mexico on a Trip to the Sillicon Valley (SF area) and the object of this study trip is about computers, software and so on.

      If you were at the Google HQ, can you give me any tip on how I may book a tour (if possible) to take my group?

      Thank you very much for your help!


  14. What a dissapointing trip…Yeah, maybe contact someone before go there could be better.

  15. I really feel bad you spent all that money and was treated like that. I can understand their policy of not letting people just walk in off the street for a tour, but maybe they should inform EVERYONE that is in any way a part of Google…Indian reps included, so there's no misunderstandings like this..

    Having said that, there is absolutely no excuse for the rude behavior of the reception staff!! Period. Obviously though, the management can't control every employee's attitude. I'd bet that they do talk to those (2) after your post here though.

    I saw, I think it was a 60 Minutes story on Google, and I know the attitude of those employees doesn't reflect what Google the company is. It looked like a great place to work, and a company that really takes care of it's people. Had you got to the right person, I'd bet your experience would have been totally different.

    If they had still thrown you out, it would have been done with a smile and a hand shake.


  16. That is very rude of them to give you no respect! You should not let this go and write to the someone higher up, maybe they will give you the red carpet treatment next time! Amazon sure would!

  17. I am puzzled in how you perceived the Adwords response to be an invitation to visit Google? It clearly stated, "I have provided the contact details and office address below".

    She gave you a phone number for you to contact about visiting — nothing more.

    It was naive to think you can just show up at the steps of a Fortune 500 company and expect them to give you a private tour. As someone already mentioned this isn't an amusement park and they aren't in the business of giving tours. They can't just let any 'joe' walk into the building.

    And trying to convince the secretary to let you in by telling her how much you spend with Google?! are you serious? LOL … that made my day!!

    1. I totally agree to this comment. The journey and story above are just naive.

      I am also puzzled by many of the other comments here who responded by stating that "Google is just another big company" or something. This clearly was no invitation, they were asking you to contact and ask for the possibility of a visit, if anything.

  18. Zac I saw you on a video last night on John Chow's blog and found my way to your blog. From the video I know you're very passionate about the industry and now reading about your experience with Google I really feel for you.

  19. With a name like ZAC JOHNSON, you aren't the one losing, Google is. This post is probably going to send away a few thousand potential new users 🙂


  20. Hey Zac,

    I'm one of your email subscriber and reading your experienced with Google receptionist or employee is quite disturbing. They could have done a better job of telling you about their policies but oh well; I agree with others here that it does sucks. Maybe Google will send you a free ticket to visit their HQ *wink*

    Have a good one!

  21. What can you really expect from a corporation like that? It’s disappointing to hear. As far as the “lifeless soul” behind the desk… how smart does one have to be to get a receptionist position in the first place? You should have told her you’re going to walk around the campus anyway.

  22. It sounds like big brother Google has some paranoia about visitors. Who else would want to visit other than competitors?

  23. I have wondered about taking a tour myself, I would have thought that they would have had an entire tour department set up just for tours of their coorporate headquarters. I'm so surprised that they don't and I'm so surprised by your experience. I also would have thought that the google maps "street view" of their coorporate headquarters would have been more impressive, I would have thought at least some of the staff would be standing outside smiling and waving at the camera car?

  24. what was a don't miss in San Fran? I am taking my very geeky 16 year old. We will stay 2 days in the Palo Alto area, hit the computer museum, apple store at HQ and then head to San Fran. since we are coming from a geeky direction I thought you would be the one to answer!

  25. So you went to the offices of a company you don't work for and they didn't let you in?

    I'm not surprised. I don't think there's many companies that would let a non-employee into their offices.

  26. LOL….look like they didnt impress with your six figure….Maybe you have to start making more money.

  27. Seriously? You expected a guided tour? If Google just allowed every stranger to have a tour and take pictures and videotape the buildings and employees, don't you think this would interfere with their day to day operations and daily business? Even thought Google is a "hip" tech company, it's still a company where people go to work and not an amusement park where anyone can just stop in at their own leisure.

  28. I'm reading this over a year later as I have a chance to visit the campus with someone who works there (this week, actually). I'm certainly glad I'm not going there "cold" and expecting a warm reception.

  29. My partner and I were planning on visiting google HQ on our honeymoon, it's a real shame that we won't be able to. We are saving for our whole wedding and honeymoon using adsense revenue and thought it would be a real highlight to go to the google headquarters (we live in New Zealand). I heard that they have tours but obviously no such thing.

  30. Google is no better than the people there. I had 3 interviews with google in Beijing, after the third I wrote weekly to the two interviewers for *6 weeks* without getting a reply. Finally, after 6 weeks, I got a standard "We have reviewed our openings and currently have nothing that fits your qualifications" note – despite their both stressing in the interviews that "we don't hire people to fill positions, we hire the best people and find something for them to do". I don't mind not being hired – interviews are subjective, and I did not hit it off with the two 25-year-olds I talked to, but not responding after 3 interviews is unprofessional, and their cribbing a kiss-off note that contradicts their self description does not give me a feeling that I am missing anything by not working there.

  31. I feel really fortunate that I somehow ended up on a tour of the Google facility a few years back. Hmm, maybe it was "karma?" I had been working as a volunteer advocate for the US Green Building Council in Silicon Valley. We were monitoring the progress of green building programs in Santa Clara County. Over several months I contacted city governments in Silicon Valley area. At the last minute, someone from the USGBC invited me to join the tour for USGBC folk, to see green building related features at Google. We got a full tour of the facility, and I was mesmerized by it all—youth culture, world connection, all the benefits and perks, and Google lifestyle! Apparently specific groups can get in the door.

  32. I have a concept for a new business and security tool have contacted many electronic manufacters and have received no replys I am looking for some direction in making contact with someone to give me some advice to move to the next step in bringing this product to market. I am 65 years old and have limited computer skills I have 44 years transportation experince can you point me in the right direction and kick me in the butt.

  33. that's sad to hear. I am sure you must have had significant experience working/familiarity with atleast 1 google employee at that campus based on your introductory paragraphs.I am surprised there's no mention about any attempts to contact them..I've heard employees usually treat their visitors (who are usually friends/family who may as well be working at other places) very well by sitting down for lunch and strolling around the campus with them if their schedule is not too tight.

  34. Goggle employees are full of it. They are always high on calories due to free food they get at Google. They are so rude to public regarding visitors. They have all kinds of idiots working there I would rather not work next to those idiots.

  35. The reply you got actually provides you with the CONTACT details, so you can CONTACT them and for the appointment, because the guy from the adwords is not dealing with it.
    If that would be an invitation it would provide more details probably, like who is going to meet you, what time and etc.

    If you ever been inside a company you probably know that it's not so common that anyone from the street can just come in and wonder around and how much you've invested in adwords has nothing to do with it.

    Dry reply from the receptionist that probably gets this kind of stuff on a daily basis was expected. I mean what were you thinking.. =)

  36. I think Zac did not know what he is looking for.. Is Google a Museum or a dance show? A chocolae factory? What were your expectations dude? To see their assembly line? Gimme a break.

    Hope you know what Google does, Right? Did anyone stop you from roaming arund their campus? Its a beautiful campus where visitors can go and look around and appreciate what Google is doing. You you can take pictures of building from outside with fabulous Google logos.

    The remedy to this situation for Zac is to 'think' and grow up a bit and stop this useless bickering.

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