Well behind the executives with their PowerPoints stood a line of desks, extending into the middle distance. Behind the desks were programmers, pounding on keyboards, going back and forth to the water cooler, or standing to talk with one another.
It was an illustration of cloud development. The unspoken message was that Pivotal would be developed using a bunch of young programmers, working tightly together, at all hours, and in close collaboration.
In the era of cloud this has become the paradigm. Forget the offices, forget the cubicles. We sit together around a digital campfire and we code together. Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie so he can get into the mayhem and code like a team member.Google (GOOG) works this way. Facebook (FB - Get Report) works this way. Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) doesn't work this way. (Cloud development is not a telecommuting lifestyle.)
But CEO Marissa Mayer knows Yahoo! must work this way if it's to compete with the Facebooks, with the Googles, and with all the start-ups born of the cloud era. This intense team style of programming is necessary to make big ideas come to life, and projects scale instantly. But Yahoo!, as a media company, had no orchestra. Media companies have chains of command and scheduled meetings. Even if there's a "bullpen" at the center of the office, there are still offices, where men and women in nice clothes plot strategy and stare meaningfully at the surrounding skyline. Which brings us to Tumblr. Tumblr was born in the Facebook era of cloud development. Tumblr has a talented staff of young programmers who know how to work together, in close collaboration.
Tumblr has something else Mayer needs, offices at the top of a nondescript New York office building on 21st Street, between Madison Square and Union Square. It's close to big advertising, media and financial offices and is a quick subway ride away for programmers who commute from Brooklyn or Queens.