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What does it take to work at the Google AdWords headquarters? Why did Google decide downtown Ann Arbor was the perfect place to do business? Paul Krutko recently sat down with Mike Miller, head of the Ann Arbor Google AdWords office, to discuss these questions and more as part of SPARK’s podcast series.

View from outside the Google AdWords Headquarters in downtown Ann Arbor.


Paul:  Mike, you worked at Google, and before that you were in San Francisco.  You’re a Michigan native and a University of Michigan grad. Can you tell us what you did before Google and what brought you to the company?

Mike: I spent a number of years out in the Bay area after graduate school, working for Cisco in high tech.  In fact, the reason I came to Google was because I was back here on vacation when they announced that they were opening an Ann Arbor facility. I was contacted shortly thereafter by a recruiter and I was really interested in what Google was doing back here. That was a time when companies weren’t really investing in the state of Michigan.  So, to me, there was a very personal element to what Google was doing and what the commitment was to the state of Michigan.

Mike Miller, Head of Google AdWords Headquarters in Ann Arbor

Paul: You were involved with the office opening in 2006. It validated Ann Arbor as being a cluster for technology, innovation, and activity in the United States. What were some of the key factors in Google making this choice, given that the company has almost unlimited alternatives for facility locations?

Mike:  There’s obviously a lot of factors that go into any location decision.  I think the key one for us, though, is talent.  This is a great base for talent, obviously drawing off of U of M, but also the other universities like Michigan State, etc., that are in the state of Michigan, and then even outside of the state itself, we’ve found that we can attract people to Ann Arbor.  We’ve got a personal connection to Larry Page, being from Michigan, and that’s similar to other connections that we have throughout the office of people having very close ties to the state.  And then finally, the work that SPARK and the MEDC did for us, to help us understand the environment and to help us to locate here.

Paul:  So what was the initial footprint, and what is it today?

Mike: Initially it was pretty small. This small team got things started even in a temporary space over on Main Street.  Our footprint now is over 300, and we’ve had a couple of good years.  We grew the office by over 25% just last year in 2011.

Google has been able to maintain growth, and Mike Miller attributes that to the company’s ability to create good products. These new products are thought up in Google’s innovative office environments, spaces that foster collaborative and creativity amongst the company’s diverse workforce.

Want to know more about the future of Google, and the type of talent they want? You can listen to the full podcast on SPARK’s website.