Having been back home for over a week now, I’ve been dying to tell you about the final day of our #blogbus adventure, as we continued our discovery of Silicon Valley! Friday’s agenda included two visits: Urthecast and Google.
Urthecast is a startup company that plans to stream HD videos of the Earth filmed from the International Space Station (ISS). The videos will be freely accessible online to anyone, with an option for some companies, NGOs and educational organizations to access additional videos in exchange for a fee.
This Canadian project has now expanded internationally, and is engaged in numerous partnerships: their technology division (hardware) is based in Russia (the cameras will be installed in 2013 on the Russian segment of the ISS), while the web development team is in California.
I was particularly taken aback by the ambition that lies behind such a project. It takes more than just a few lines of coding to launch Urthecast. It requires ultra-advanced technologies to film 350km away from the Earth with a ground speed of 26,000 kmph, transmit the data back to the Earth, negotiate with space agencies in order to install two very large cameras on the ISS, store the data and make it accessible (400GB of new data per day), etc. In short, it is a huge project! I loved meeting them, and can’t wait to see what happens when the Beta version goes live.
We then visited the Google Campus in San Francisco. It is certainly not as spectacular as the Googleplex in Mountain View, but it’s still very nice! After lunch in the cafeteria, we met the people in charge of relations with developers.
We talked with them about what makes Silicon Valley what it is. It led to a passionate debate, as it does whenever we get the opportunity to tackle this question with other entrepreneurs, and will undoubtedly lead to an interesting article on the topic. After this brief interlude, we spoke about Google’s relationships with developers. The discourse was then very formal, and from what we could see, there is less spontaneity here than you would find in smaller companies. With nearly 55,000 employees throughout the world, this is no longer a start-up, but a large, well-established company.
In terms of their relationship with developers, Google has put many things in place, including; Google I/O, the Developers Academy, and also the Google University Consortium. This was interesting, but in all honestly, I would have preferred to have spent a little less time on this, and instead looked more closely at the history of Google and Silicon Valley.
At the end of the day, we all met up to go to a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres. This was a first for me, and despite the cold weather at AT&T Park, we had a great time. A big thanks to Joanne Jacobs, our Australian blogger, for explaining the rules to me!