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Google Buying Manhattan Office Building for $1.9 Billion (datacenterknowledge.com)
118 points by 1SockChuck on Dec 3, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

Not sure why this headline says "Office Building". Calling this an office building is like calling the Internet tubes.

It's a colo hotel, with floors an entire block in size that are nothing but vast datacenter spaces.

Here's the cable conduit:


Here's Google's "office". Each of the colos fills this kind of space with cabinets or racks:


If you walk up or down 15th or 16th street and look at the windows, you'll see which floors are datacenter space because their windows are blocked out. For example:


// We've been colo'd at 111 8th for a decade.

Eh? Google has offices - with people, and cubes, and dining in it - in at least four floors of that building. They have about 2000 employees in this building.

Here are a lot more pictures of that space:



http://picasaweb.google.com/photos.jobs/NewYorkOfficePhotos (linked from http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/uslocations/new-york/)

There are also a handful of other companies - such as barnesandnoble.com - with office space in this building.

Some of the floors might be datacenter space, but a huge amount of it is also people-office space.

There are a number of other buildings with office space in Manhattan. Not many have multiple datacenter floors covering a city block. One of these characteristics is more relevant to Google than the other.

// As an aside, it's curious that 60 Hudson St looks so much like one end of 111 8th Ave.

Your parent comment reads like you are asserting that this building is used for datacenters only.

Also the article itself states that they likely aren't that interested in hosting their own servers in this building:

Google’s purchase of the building provides access to additional office space for its growing New York sales and engineering operation at 111 8th Avenue...

While Google could build out its own data center space at 111 8th Avenue, the cost of power in New York probably precludes a massive server farm in the building. Most of Google’s large-scale data centers are located in suburban or rural areas with cheaper power.

The headline here on HN fails to convey why Google has an interest in this building.

That it contains offices is of secondary importance. We don't describe Interpol suspects by starting with the characteristic that they are 60% water.

Also, the citation is speculation ("probably"). If the cost of power "precludes" a massive server farm in the building, there wouldn't be multiple massive server farms in the building. Our cost for power in Manhattan is only negligibly different than in Texas.

The quote about rural areas with cheap power has nothing to do with the importance of being at 111 8th Ave for peering.

That it contains offices is of secondary importance.

That is a huge assumption on your part.

Our cost for power in Manhattan is only negligibly different than in Texas.

The consumer cost may be similar, but any smart company building data centers will try to find deals that reduce their cost well below what consumers pay. Those deals tend to be easier to find in rural areas.

The quote about rural areas with cheap power has nothing to do with the importance of being at 111 8th Ave for peering.

Google's only interest to date in this building is that it houses a growing number of employees, and is currently at 2000. Google is not in the high frequency trading business, and so is unlikely to have too much interest in the advantages of the location for peering. There is therefore no reason to believe that Google cares about anything other than the advantages of being their own landlord and guaranteeing access to enough co-located office space for their needs.

(Note, I am currently employed at Google. However I have no inside knowledge about this deal.)

"The headline here on HN fails to convey why Google has an interest in this building"

Well, that's what the article being linked to is for :)

My initial comment was about the headline, not the article, which doesn't mention the phrase "office building".

More headlines like saying "Google bought an office building":

- "Netflix offering $100,000 an hour for color video"

- "Google spends $6M stock to keep computer user from Facebook"

- "Joe Lieberman demands Amazon.com take English-language documents offline"

They're true, but they're not the point.

we got the point already, relax, it's not that big of a deal :)

Although you have to suspect that at least some of Google's users are in New York (I hear they have computers there now) so at some point putting the data where the users are using it does make sense.

Power is expensive in big cities but so is infinite bandwidth and the speed of light is still annoyingly finite.

I just got a tour of the offices last week. For those of you who do not know, this is mostly the DoubleClick crew. A lot of the people working there originally worked for DoubleClick and then became part of Google when Google bought DoubleClick. This is also how Google ended up with a New York office.

To the commenter who said this is a great sign for the New York tech scene, I guess I agree, but this needs to be seen as a rebound from a low point. After all, there was a point back in the 90s when DoubleClick seemed a dominant power, and at that time New York seemed like the natural center of the advertising industry, and it seemed like New York's dominance of advertising would last forever -- all of which later was called in question.

The office has a lot of the amenities that I guess you would associate with a modern high tech company -- there is a game room with pool tables and foos ball and ping pong, there is some nice design elements, there is a little museum of old computers in one of the hallways, people ride down the hallways on scoot rides, there are bunch of little coffee shops where everything is free, and there is a room you can go and get a massage.

For all that, though, I agree with the commenter who said the place is a little dumpy. I'm surprised this place is worth $1.9 billion - I'm always a little surprised at how expensive New York real estate is.

Minor correction: Google opened an the office in NY three or four years before the DoubleClick acquisition. Google was already in the building at the time of the acquisition.

Not only that, but Google was already using 4x the amount of office space in the building that DoubleClick was at the time of the acquisition.

I remember reading that the building sits on top of one of the main fiber optic junctions, clearly making it a bit more valuable. I was able to find an article that references this http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/10/27/google-to-play-daniel-pl....

Not quite. They own quite a bit of space in the building, and only about half a floor is ads, not all of which is DoubleClick. There's lots of other projects going on there as well.

(Source: I was an intern there last summer and visit friends there every so often)

This is a great sign of growth for tech in NYC. It's a beautiful building and I hope it gives Google a chance to expand their operations in the city. Here's the website for the building if anyone is interested: http://www.111eighth.com

Fun fact from the NYTimes article: this building has more square footage than the Empire State Building. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/nyregion/03building.html?_...

"The offering is being closely watched as a barometer of the Manhattan real estate market."

Does anyone know the Manhattan real estate market? is 1.9 B a steal?

Beautiful building, had lunch with a friend there. IIRC it also housed DoubleClick before the merger, so "moving in" was a matter of Google taking over their floor(s).

What is the proximity of this building to Wall Street? I wonder if they are looking to get a foot into the high frequency trading business in some way.

High frequency trading is generally done by colocating servers at the exchange data centers, or another data center with a very low latency link to the exchange's. (The link must be necessarily very short due to the finite speed of light.) You don't need to buy a whole building to do this, and in fact, buying a whole building is unlikely to help.

It's not close to Wall street. This building is where their NYC offices were already located, by buying it, it makes it easy to expand into vacant office space. And, as stated in the article, about 25% of the building is data center space, it is one of the largest carrier hotels in NYC.

Close is relative.


That's closer in "speed of light" to Wall St than the Newark / Jersey City colos, but computer trading tends to be in Jersey so that's where you'd go if wire speed is your goal.

Try 165 Halsey St in Newark. Here's a map of who is already on each floor. Morgan Stanley has the entire 2nd floor:


It's roughly 3 miles away, 15-20 minutes.

For high-frequency trading purposes 3 miles is about 16 µs

Don't you mean 16us?

Thanks - fixed :)

I think a lot of the stock exchanges have their data centres in Jersey now, iirc?

Yup, in Mahwah area, up Route 17 near the NY border. The NYSE built a massive data center there specifically for colocation of high frequency trading operations, even going so far as ensuring each customers switch runs are the same length. It was on 60:Minutes a while ago.

The main NJ data centers for exchanges include Secaucus (Equinix NY4), Weehawken (Savvis), Clifton (Telx), and now Mahwah. All of the major stock exchanges and some of the options exchanges are in one of these data centers.

If I've left any out, please feel free to add as a comment.

At first I thought it looked like an incredibly dumpy building for $1.9 billion. Then I read that it's actually the entire city block that they're buying.

Am I correct in thinking that New York City planning regulations would make it damn near impossible to tear down that dumpy-looking building and build a shiny new one?

Regulations aside, you would be mad to tear this thing down. Relocating all the DCs (and I'm guessing exchanges) in there would be ridiculous. And... 'dumpy' isn't exactly the right word for this building. Another article (from the same site! with the same paragraphs!) shows how f'ing huge this building is.


Go to the bottom.

They would NEVER tear it down. Its value is in its close proximity to so many other networks. I would guess single digit milleseconds to Wall Street (certain trading firms care), along with interconnections to many mobile operators networks, VOIP providers, etc.

They will want the current tenants to stay, so that Google will have top-shelf speed to all their customers' networks at a low cost.

They also get to collect the rent from these firms instead of paying rent for their current and future space to the old landlord, which will make the financial part better that "Google pays 1.9 billion for dumpy building!" sounds.

That dumpy looking building to you is actually pretty nice looking on the outside and inside in person. It's also the third largest building by square footage in Manhattan, the main carrier hotel in the city for providers like Realty Trust, Equinix, Telx and home to a ton of high profile companies like Nike, Deutsch, Armani, Spotify among others.

Dumpy compared to what? I think it's a fine example of classic New York Art Deco.

Kids these days. Not made of souless cinderblocks and drywall = dumpy to them.

No, it would be like tearing down the Empire State Building to build a new one. By volume this building is currently the second largest Manhattan building after the ESB. It also sits directly on top of a Fiber hub and excellent subway access directly from within the building to the ACE & L subway lines.

It's actually even bigger than ESB, but I don't think it's the largest in Manhattan

"But at 2.9 million square feet, it has more space than the Empire State Building and plenty of room for Google to grow."

I believe the largest amount of usable office space in Manhattan is at 55 Water St.

I won't agree that it looks dumpy, but it certainly doesn't look modern, or in any way similar to the Googleplex. Of course, that's nearly everything in New York. Many think that's a plus...

There is absolutely way they would disrupt operations at one of the top five carrier hotels in the world because you think it looks dumpy.

I worked in the building for two and a half years and it may appear "dumpy" on the outside but it's an awesome place to work.

Walking into work via a half a block long corridor with cable strung over your head and the clack of your feet echoing along it is a great way to start the day

Dumpy? I guess you've never been there. A lot of people prefer working in building where the architecture is not 1997 beige suburban office park.

Am I correct in thinking that New York City planning regulations would make it damn near impossible to tear down that dumpy-looking building and build a shiny new one?

No, that would be common sense talking.

The politicians would love for them to blow a couple of billion on construction crews in a down economy. They'd do some very personal favors for Serge and Larry to have that happen.

Regardless of whether the building looks dumpy, the view of Midtown is magnificent: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/iU0pdqJt5xOtzMhGIbrfbg?...

Is that guy in a bathrobe?

I want to go to there

who thinks this leads in google's extension of its product line with financial product that are "note evil"?

i feel financial products are essentially "information product" to begin with.

I think this would be a mistaken assumption to make; they already have about 2000 employees in this location and a pretty strong presence. I think this transaction just turns them from leasers into owners.

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