Critics have blamed the shooting at YouTube’s sprawling HQ in San Bruno, California, on lax security and the technology industry’s apparent obsession with giving employees a trendy work environment and good benefits over safety.
On Tuesday, Nasim Aghdam injured three of the company’s employees then killed herself with a handgun after seemingly walking onto its 200,000 sq ft campus.
Her exact movements remain unclear but she was able to gain access to an outdoor courtyard space through a parking garage.
She then opened fire in an area filled with picnic tables where the staff had gathered for a lunchtime party.
Two of her three victims fled to a Carl’s Jr across the road after being shot but the third was found in the San Bruno complex and taken to hospital.
An aerial view of YouTube’s San Bruno complex shows its three buildings and the outdoor eating area where the shooter was found dead. It remains unclear how she got access to the 200,000 sq ft complex or what measures were in place, if any, to stop her from simply walking onto the premises
At the offices, at least 1,100 employees enjoy amenities including a lap pool, sleep pods, numerous outdoor green spaces and a novelty slide which takes them from the second to first floor.
Google, YouTube’s parent company, rented it initially but bought it for $88million in 2015.
The complex is among the trendy and gimmick-heavy work environments that Silicon Valley is known for.
But security experts have spoken out in light of Tuesday’s shooting to describe the difficulties in striking a balance between the free and easy workplaces tech giants desire to build for staff and safety.
Silicon Valley insiders who are familiar with the complex have also compared it to a college campus and revealed how easy it is to get in and out.
‘They feel like college campuses… it’s relatively easy to get access to these buildings,’ ara Swisher, co-founder of the technology news website Recode, told MSNBC on Tuesday.
A closer look at the proposal shows the area colored in red which would become the campus
There is a slide inside the campus where employees can get from one floor to another. Above, crowds gather to watch it being tested out in 2011 after it was installed
Also on site is a lap pool for staff to exercise in. It remains unclear how tight security is
She added that while YouTube has armed security guards, they may not
‘This can be a challenge. People and employees want the freedom to come and go. But employers may want something completely different. Security experts have to help find a balance,’ Robert Costa, president of Hayward-based South County Security Services, told The Mercury News on Tuesday.
John Spesak, chief executive officer with Security Industry Specialists in Culver City, added: ‘That balance is an area that we constantly revisit.
‘We have an ongoing dialogue about this balance.’
Tech bosses however say they want the emphasis to be on reducing pressure for already stressed staff.
‘There are so many things in Silicon Valley that create pressure. We want to make sure we don’t just put people in isolated silos.
‘We need to foster and create an open community,’ Gary Dillabough, a managing partner with the Navitas Group and The Westley Group venture capital firms, said.
YouTube is not alone with its playground-like office.
A view of one of the interior courtyards at YouTube’s HQ in San Bruno. Google, its parent company, bought the complex for $88million in 2015
In a promotional picture, a YouTube employee is shown getting around the site on a scooter. 1,100 employees go to work at the campus
At Google, which is on the same complex, there is also a slide inside the main office to take employees from floor to floor.
Facebook has a similar campus in Menlo Park where employees get around on bicycles. There is a bike repair shop for them to drop off at if they need any work done.
They also have shuttle buses which take employees to and from San Francisco every day and there are apartments on site.
Among those crying out for tightened security at all of the sites in the wake of Tuesday’s shooting was the NRA.
Its national spokeswoman Dana Loesch said it was a ‘weakness’ in the building’s planning or security which allowed Aghdam to open fire.
‘The weakness will be found. Otherwise it wouldn’t have happened,’ she said on the association’s own TV channel.
YouTube’s parent company Google, which commented after the shooting on Tuesday to say it would cooperate with authorities, did not respond to questions about its security measures on Wednesday.
Nasim Aghdam’s body lies beneath a yellow tarp next to smashed glass on a door in the campus on Tuesday
Staff returned to the site on Wednesday to collect their belongings as police continued their work at the scene