Google Inc. is about to add some muscle to its Southern California operations.
On Thursday afternoon the company is hosting an opening event for its new 100,000-square-foot campus, located just a few blocks from Venice Beach.
Speakers at the event will include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who plans to hail the new Google campus a sign of the progress of the city's technology industry, which advocates have begun to call "Silicon Beach."
Google first opened an office in L.A. in 2003 when it acquired Santa Monica-based Applied Semantics, and at that time had only a dozen employees in the area. Over time, the size of Google's workforce here has grown to more than 500, with engineers and advertising sales teams spilling into several separate buildings on the Westside. But as its L.A. operation grew, Google decided it wanted to reproduce the unified feel of its main campus, the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.
"We want to feel like everyone is in one location," said Susan Wojcicki, Google's senior vice president of advertising, in an interview with The Times. "It's really important for us to have all different parts of the company able to work together."
Although employees in the L.A. office will work in a variety of Google's businesses, including its search engine, ad sales, and its Google+ social network, the company is also hoping the more concentrated presence will help it develop its ties with the entertainment and media industries.
Film and television companies, the company says, are increasingly willing to experiment with newer kinds of digital advertising. When a consumer enters the movie "Anonymous" as a search term in Google's search engine, for instance, a newer type of ad pops up with an embedded video trailer.
Wojcicki said the new campus — three adjacent buildings including Frank Gehry-designed Binoculars Building — would also help Google attract candidates from area colleges and universities. Wojcicki sits on the board of visitors at UCLA Anderson School of Management, where she received her MBA in 1998 — the year Google was founded.
Although Google hired 100 employees in 2011, Wojcicki did not specify the company's 2012 hiring plan for the region, saying "we're working out those numbers right now."
The company's focus on Web search is evoked by the iconic binocular sculpture at the site, created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.