Coffee and donuts can build bridges. Just ask the folks here at FindLaw.com's Sunnyvale, Calif., office, where we enjoy copious amounts of free coffee -- as well as bagels, donuts, and fresh fruit delivered to our office every Friday.
Those free Friday breakfasts give FindLaw's teams of lawyers and engineers an excuse to socialize and exchange ideas.
They also offer a chance to mingle with other Thomson Reuters staffers who share office space with FindLaw -- and who are working on completely different projects.
"It's a crazy, incredible mishmash of people" who work in close quarters, explains Jonathan Pohl, a product manager with Elite, a Thomson Reuters business that deals with law firm management software.
Poul is the only Elite staffer in our Silicon Valley office. His work focuses on a product called ContactNet, created by a Boston-based startup called Contact Networks that was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2008.
FindLaw, too, began as a startup before joining the Thomson Reuters family. And other non-FindLaw teams in our Silicon Valley office can also trace their roots to startups.
For example, two local firms, Delphion and Aurigin Systems, are now part of Thomson Reuters' Intellectual Property & Science business. A team of 11 software engineers focuses primarily on Thomson Innovation , a web-based tool that allows IP professionals to search for patents and figure out how much they're worth.
Another group of Silicon Valley employees, now part of Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting, began as a local startup called Liquid Engines. That company created ONESOURCE, a software package for corporate finance professionals.
Today, the Sunnyvale-based team of 10 software developers is still focused on ONESOURCE, providing product support and working on continuous improvements.
How is being part of Thomson Reuters different from being a startup? "We have better facilities, better cubicles," TRTA lead software developer Ben Chien said. Not to mention a diversely talented staff working for vastly different parts of a diversified company.
Oh, and donuts and bagels on Friday.