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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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January 16, 2008 10:02 AM

Party time at the Northwest Googleplex

Posted by Brier Dudley

The year is young, but so far the Seattle tech scene's biggest bash of 2008 was Tuesday night's open house/job fair/rave at Google's new Fremont office.

Companies looking for tech talent should have come with a big net. Engineers were cramming into the place like salmon at a fish ladder. At least 625 registered early and more lined up for signups at the door.

Surrounded by flashing disco lights and thumping music in the mostly unfilled first floor overlooking the ship canal, they clutched illuminated Google Seattle drink cups and crowded around demo stations, snack tables and potential new bosses.

Current and former University of Washington computer science profs were holding court. I talked briefly to Ed Lazowska, who's still at the UW, and Brian Bershad, who left to run the new Google office, but there was a stream of well-wishers, schmoozers and former students saying hello. may be moving into new digs at the other end of Lake Union, but there were still a ton of Amazonians at the event. I tried to say hi to AWS evangelist Jeff Barr, who has been candid about Google's efforts to recruit him in the past, but he seemed to be constantly surrounded by bioinformatics types.

Microsoft was well represented, as was just about every other tech company in the region.

Here's what Ben Romano reported from the more staid shindig Google threw for local VIPs in the morning. As he noted, there's about 100 Googlers in Fremont, including around 75 in engineering and 25 in an adjacent sales office.

Some additional details I picked up:

-- There are about 10 dogs "working" at the Fremont office and so far there are few compatibility issues.

-- There is indeed a Googler named Jeremy Pack working on Google Pack, the company's bundle of PC applications. But he works in Kirkland, where the Pack was hatched, and joined after the project started. I was hoping he named it.

-- Unlike the current Kirkland office, Google's Fremont outpost will have an in-house kitchen eventually.

-- Google projects a loose and freewheeling spirit, but it seems pretty interested in seasoned project managers from Seattle's more mature tech companies. They are being courted heavily, as well as engineers and fresh university talent.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.