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Google’s HQ Has a Strange Creature as its Mascot. You Can Visit Him for Free.

You might expect the Mountain View, California headquarters of Google to be a serious, business-like place. 

Google is one of the world’s largest companies after all, and it controls about 90% of the search engine market.

But Google’s HQ is anything but boring. Case in point: Stan.

Who or what is Stan? Read on to find out.

Visiting the Googleplex

Google calls its Silicon Valley campus the Googleplex. It’s a sprawling headquarters encompassing many buildings that fill much of Mountain View.

Unlike the walled garden that is Favebook’s campus, or the weird rocket ship that Apple calls home, Google’s campus is surprisingly open.

A group of young technology workers cross Charleston Street at the Googleplex, the Silicon Valley headquarters of search engine and technology company Google Inc, Mountain View, California, April 7, 2017.

You can visit it for free and walk around pretty much at will. You’ll see Googlers speeding by on colorful bikes.The company is even planning to open a visitor’s center and cafe for guests.

You can’t go into the buildings, but you can get a glimpse of what life at Google is like.

Enter Stan

You can also meet Stan, the Googleplex’s unofficial mascot. Heads up: you won’t be able to easily give him a hug or high five, as he’s about 20 feet tall and probably weighs several tons.

Who, or what, is Stan? 

Replica of a dinosaur skeleton at the Googleplex, headquarters of Google Inc in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, April 7, 2017. The skeleton is a focal point of the campus, and is known by Google employees as ‘Stan’.

Stan is a giant, bronze replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex. He stands guard over the central courtyard in the largest building at the Googleplex.

The guarding is necessary–sometimes Stan needs to fend off foes like an army of flamingos.

Stan isn’t a real tyrannous fossil–again, he’s made of bronze. But he was supposedly copied from several actual T-rexes.

The Birth of Stan

Where did Stan come from? Google’s headquarters used to belong to Silicon Graphics, an early computer graphics company that had its heyday in the 1990s.

Silicon Graphics worked on the first Jurrasic Park movie, helping with the movie’s then-groundbreaking special effects. Silicon Valley lore has it that the company installed Stan at its headquarters in conjunction with working on that blockbuster film.

When Google acquired the company’s former headquarters, they likely decided that Stan was cool and that they should keep him, or so the legend goes.

In reality, it appears that Google installed Stan some time after moving into their HQ. A former staff member of Silicon Graphics and Google told the Bay Area Telegraph that Google founders Larry and Sergey installed Stan after Google had moved into the HQ.

Today, reportedly serves an additional function: reminding Googlers to keep innovating and to prevent the company from ever becoming a “dinosaur.”

The next time you’re in Mountain View, drop by the Googleplex and take a selfie with the company’s resident dinosaur.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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