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Google’s Atlanta presence expanding in stature and office space

Night-time shot of Google's new Atlanta office building in Midtown. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

By Maria Saporta

Google celebrated its love for Atlanta when opened its new Midtown office space on July 27.

In its new location, the technology company clearly has embraced Atlanta and Georgia — spotlighting its role as a center for civil and human rights for all as well as its multicultural offerings of music and entertainment. Gov. Brian Kemp helped to officially open the new office.

Google’s Matthew Pritchard shows Gov. Brian Kemp and Marty Kemp a display of cassette tapes that feature Google’s G. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Matthew Pritchard, co-site lead for Google in Atlanta, said the goal in building out the space was: “Let’s design this as a love letter to Atlanta.”

Google has been expanding its presence in Atlanta. It now has more than 1,000 employees working at its two Midtown locations and at its Douglas County data center.

The new Google Midtown office is at 1105 West Peachtree St., and the company is leasing 19 floors of the building, roughly 500,000 square feet. It also has kept its offices at West Peachtree and 10th St., just two blocks south of the new building.

The expectation is that Google’s workforce in Atlanta will continue to grow — largely because of the company’s 2020 commitment to double the number of its Black employees by 2025.

“It is literally a brand-new chapter, and an exciting chapter, for Google and tech in Atlanta,” said Reggie McKnight, Google’s Atlanta-based global head of social impact. “It’s exciting to see tech embracing the richness that’s in Atlanta.”

Two years ago, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, said Google was committed to improving the representation of underrepresented groups at senior levels by 30 percent by 2025” as well as doubling the number of Black Googlers in the same time frame.

Atlanta has more Black college students than any other city in the country thanks to the presence of leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities and its top public institutions — Georgia State University and Georgia Tech — to name just two.

A colorful stairwell in Google’s new Midtown office building pays homage to the rainbow sidewalk several blocks away. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

For that reason, Atlanta is well positioned to expand its share of Google investment and workforce. The company pledged in 2021 that would invest $7 billion in offices around the United States with a goal of adding 10,000 new full-time Google employees.

“Google has a saying — we want to build for everyone,” McKnight said. “I can’t think of a city that better represents building for everyone than Atlanta with its unmatched legacy in civil and human rights.”

Touring the Atlanta office space, it was readily apparent the company was embracing the diverse spirit of Atlanta. Its cafeteria is called the WERD Café in honor of the first Black-owned and programmed U.S. radio station, an Atlanta claim to fame.

“Inspired by the city’s legacy for social change, our office was designed as an homage to the people of Atlanta, with each floor an ode to Atlanta’s cultural, musical and artistic history,” the company wrote in an email adding that it worked with more than 50 local and diverse companies to design and build the new space and included artwork from more than 20 local artists.

A two-story heart in the main lobby of Google’s new Midtown space displays the company’s love of Atlanta and Georgia. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

In the main lobby on the 18th floor, a huge heart welcomes visitors along with a large map of Georgia. A staircase features a rainbow design to show the company’s support of the LGBTQ+ community.

The company stated that in 2021, Google products helped provide $13.2 billion of economic activity for tens of thousands of Georgia businesses, nonprofits, publishers, creators and developers.

Google also announced at the opening of the office that it was committing $1 million to the Urban League of Atlanta to support the nonprofit’s work in training underserved communities throughout the state.

Pritchard said Google has had a presence in Atlanta since 2001 when it started with about 10 sales employees. When it moved to its 10th Street, Pritchard said former President Jimmy Carter helped open that space.

A view of Google’s first Midtown office space as seen from its new Midtown office space. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

“The real story is we’ve gone from having a small ad office space in Atlanta to bringing global teams to Atlanta,” said McKnight, who has one of those global roles. “Google is bringing a lot of its top tier talent to Atlanta from around the country.”

In addition to McKnight and Pritchard, the top Google executives in Atlanta include:

  • Daniel Berlin, vice president of engineering and co-site leader of Google Atlanta
  • Monique Picou, Google’s vice president of global server operations and tech strategy
  • Felica Coney, Google’s vice president of operations and synchronization for the Americas, and
  • Dasheika Ruffin, global head of community engagement and strategic partnership

McKnight was quick to point out that Google is intentionally non-hierarchal, so it doesn’t have a traditional organizational chart.

As much as Google is embracing Atlanta, it also is expanding in many other cities in the United States and around the world.

With its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Google employs 45,000 in the Bay Area. It has a total of 156,500 employees around the world.

New York City also is another major Google hub with about 12,000 employees. Other major Google hubs include Chicago, which has about 1,800 Googlers. Google opened an office in Austin, Texas, in 2007, and it now has more than 1,500 employees in Central Texas.

Google also has campuses in Montreal, Berlin, London, Madrid, Seoul, São Paulo, Tel Aviv and Warsaw.

When asked how Atlanta fits into Google’s global landscape, McKnight was bullish on his adopted hometown.

“Google has a saying — we want to build for everyone,” McKnight said. “I can’t think of a city that better represents building for everyone than Atlanta with its unmatched legacy in civil and human rights.”

Key Google executives in Atlanta:

Top row (left to right): Monique Picou, Reggie McKnight, Daniel Berlin
Bottom row (left to right): Felica Coney, Matthew Pritchard, Dasheika Ruffin

Big map of Georgia highlights Google’s presence in Atlanta (Photo by Maria Saporta)

An art installation showcases a collage of boomboxes on the wall of Google’s 18th floor lobby in its new Midtown office building. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Google’s new office building includes several spaces for Googlers to comfortably work or socialize. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Google’s “Eat the Rainbow” space offers an assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables as a way to promote healthy eating. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

One of the colorful elevator lobbies in Google’s new Midtown office building. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Google’s new Midtown office building during the day. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

A close up of the cassette tapes that feature Google’s trademark “G.” (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

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Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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