JUST outside Stanford University’s campus sits the headquarters of Symphony, one of the myriad tech companies that sprout like weeds in Silicon Valley. After a lunch break exercising in a nearby park, a dozen fit-looking employees, still in workout clothes, help themselves from buckets of fruit, energy bars and the food of the day (Indian), before plopping themselves in front of monitors in an airy room bathed in natural light. For the sought-after engineers making up most of the company’s 200-strong workforce, this sort of environment is the norm. Work is supposed to be healthy and relaxed—a far cry from the terrors of a New York bank with its incessant pressure to sell and complex internal politics, not to mention often unappetising, pricey food.

Across the continent, in a newly opened tower within the World Trade Centre, Kensho, a three-year-old company, has a similar feel. Like Symphony but a bit smaller, it is stuffed with talented engineers. In a New York approximation of the West Coast, it boasts “vertical gardens”—rectangular patches of vegetation like framed paintings—and a pool table.

Symphony is a messaging platform,…Continue reading