Four days on the West coast

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I was genuinely excited about my visit to the West Coast to visit all the HQs of the major Internet companies. When you have worked in digital for so long these places take on real significance. Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redmond etc. The Spanish VivaKi took 12 clients out there and I was there to represent the broader VivaKi organisation and make a presentation on how it all worked. It was perfect timing actually as I felt very ‘Groupe’ after the four days I spent on publicis training last week.

The first day was at Microsoft. Honestly I was disappointed with the offices, very dull and heavy and old. I always imagined, white and bright for these big spaces but this had more of the 70s about them. The opening couple of hours were spent in the home of the future. A seriously impressive vision of the house of the future, Microsoft have a couple of these but nothing like this, properly mind boggling and left you amazed, a great start.

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Microsoft does have so much to offer but really does struggle to join up the dots, demonstrate the power of 4 screens. They are almost unique in the position but it seems they struggle to capitalise on the opportunity. Nevertheless a demonstration in scale, scope and innovation is what Microsoft does best and I know the clients took a lot away from it.

Google and Facebook followed the next day and the scale of the companies and their impact on the world is staggering. In both cases you have to remind yourself of what they have achieved in such a short period of time and as we wandered the offices how on earth they kept on top of the growth. The offices both had a dishevelled feeling about them, but both gave up space for thought and distraction, something we could all learn from I think. Everywhere there were break out areas in all shapes and sizes as well as canteens and small kitchens.

The average age of the staff was young! The Google canteen was like a high school dining area not one of the worlds largest companies. It also seemed open to the world. There was our trip that felt like a school tour, the were also school tours and other things, it feels like a company keen to be part of the community – I don’t know if that’s true or not but that’s what I was left with.

Google was not a company but a town, complete with their own Google company bicycles everywhere so you could get around, it was vast 8-9 thousand people..you feel like you are inside a legend of a business, a great feeling.

And after all that, what stood out for our clients? Akamai. The unheard of company that basically makes the web work and transfers the internets content. With their screens showing the load on servers across the world, beautifully brought to life with futuristic graphics, the power of this company is stunning and yet so understated. You can understand why a potential leader of Publicis Groupe in the form of David Kenny was attracted to the organisation. I suspect in the coming years we will all hear a lot more about Akamai.

So it’s been a week in Paris being trained on how to collaborate in our Groupe and now four days in the heart of the web world, a crazy couple of weeks but fascinating and week 1 seems all the more obvious having lived through week 2. This world is going mad with complexity and no one company can handle all of it, as agencies we want to be all things to all men, but those days are done. We are now in the age of truly collaborating to survive, rather than just saying we do, those who don’t use the power of our various agency brands and VivaKi will not succeed. Clients want solutions and together we can deliver.

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