I’D been sneaking peeks of the new Hulu office down the hall from Seattle Met for about a week—peering through the glass door at all the trappings of a rising media company. Exposed brick. Black leather couches. An airy open space with cubicle-free desks. I geeked out over the natural lighting (a wall of windows!), and stifled a gasp when they walked in with a 65-inch Samsung flat panel TV. Imagine all the episodes of 30 Rock they’d have to test on that bad boy…
Since media giants News Corporation, NBC Universal, the Walt Disney Company, and private equity firm Providence Equity Partners teamed up to launch hulu.com in 2007, the online video service has changed the way we watch television—competing directly with cable and satellite by streaming free episodes of current first-run shows. But here’s the catch: Not everyone enjoys squinting at Modern Family on an 11-inch laptop screen. Some people want to watch TV on their TV, and that’s where the new Seattle office comes in. They’re in the process of hiring a research-and-development team to work on the next phase of Hulu: streaming video through living-room devices like Blu-ray disc players and Xboxes onto your big screen. And what better place to find hardcore developers than Seattle?
Even in Hulu’s Los Angeles headquarters, roughly half the engineering team spent time in Seattle, said Richard Tom, vice president of platform technology and a former Microsoftie. “We’re really familiar with the start-up community and tech culture out there,” he told me from the LA office. “We just felt that Seattle embodied the spirit of Hulu in terms of innovation and passion.”
Amen. Our region practically bleeds Java these days (both coffee and code), with multibillion-dollar companies Google opening an R&D office in Fremont in 2007, and Facebook setting up shop in downtown Seattle last August. Zynga (of Farmville fame) just moved to town, too. All are looking for computer engineers. “Our goal is to hire from the Seattle region—we have a ton of faith in the folks out there,” Hulu’s Tom said. “We want to be where the tech buzz is.”
They’re already feeling good vibes in our building: “We really felt like we could be innovators in there. We have this big open space, which was super important for us because the developers, designers, and program managers are constantly collaborating, so we wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything obstructing the view and conversation.” To facilitate brainstorming, two conference rooms are equipped with idea paint—where scribbling on the walls is encouraged—and talk-bubble white boards are the perfect place for office-wide questions…and Charlie Sheen quote wars.
Just another day in an office full of Hulugans.