Adventures in San Francisco – part two, self-driving cars and tweets

After my trip to Sauce Labs, the next thing on my to-do list was a visit to Google. I was off to meet Ross Ingram, a member of the ATAP team. I assume Google need no introduction, but maybe you have not heard of ATAP:


Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) is a skunkworks team and in-house technology incubator, created by former DARPA director Regina Dugan.

ATAP work on some pretty crazy stuff and going to the Googleplex has been a huge dream of mine, so I was really excited to sit down with Ross and chat geek.

On the way, I bumped into this:

Google self driving car

What I didn’t expect was it sounding like a jet engine even when stationary, but it does makes sense; sitting in the California sun, something needs to keep the supercomputer in the back cool!

I met up with Ross, who is working on Project Ara. If you have not heard of it, check out this video:

A really exciting product! However, I also found out he previously worked for Sphero on their amazing BB8.

That pretty much dominated the conversation as we went for a cycling tour of the Googleplex.



Next, I was off to Twitter to meet with Katie Penn, Head of Platform Growth/Marketing, to check out their amazing office.

As you arrive, you are prompted to tweet your visit:


The Twitter office is housed in a beautiful art deco block, in an area of San Francisco called the Tenderloin, which has some incredible views:

deck (1)

Also, one of the largest canteens I have ever seen:


Being a data visualization nerd, I was excited to see if Twitter had any interesting ways of displaying their metrics — they didn’t disappoint. This installation allows you to select different trends — the more popular, the faster the heart beats.

heartbeat data viz

Time to grab a swifty and do some more exploring…


sports lounge

breakout area


I would just like to take the time to say a massive thank-you to Ross and Katie for taking the time to show me around, it really was a dream come true. Next, it’s onto to chat analytics, sip red wine and give a talk on building customer experiences at NET-A-PORTER.

(Parts one, three and four.)

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About Robin

Robin Glen is a web developer for the NAP Tech Team. Having worked on multiple projects for NAP, Mr Porter and the Outnet he is now working on migrating the NAP website technology stack.

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