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Capitol Hill staffers, lobbyists, techies, and media folks braved the weather Thursday night to celebrate Google’s official arrival in Washington, a moment marked by the presence of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The event, the swankiest “office” party Washington has seen in years, included test tubes filled with vodka and cranberry juice (nicknamed YouTubes), copious snacks—from coconut shrimp to mini-burgers to miniature ice-cream cones—and an open bar complete with glowing Google-themed glasses. A game room, including foosball and Guitar Hero, entertained guests while a giant Lite-Brite-like wall in the main room gave the party a clublike atmosphere.
Google’s new space—31,000 square feet on the second floor of a new office building north of Metro Center on New York Avenue—is obviously meant for growth: Only a score of Googlers currently occupy the offices. Behind-the-scenes tours showed off the new workspace, where yoga balls sat beside every desk and giant bowls and shelves of snacks and candy awaited the workday.
Unfortunately for guests, the new Capitol Hill gift rules ruined the party’s swag factor: On their way out, attendees were offered “nominal value” mementos—a business-card holder or a Google baseball hat.
One clear sign of the company’s emerging power in Washington? Washington Post Company CEO Donald Graham—not exactly a regular at these types of events—worked the room for a good while.