Reddit CEO resigns: Why didn't Reddit want to move to Daly City?
Gregory Alan Bolcer stashed this in Life of an Exec
It's about the ridiculous cost of real estate in the Bay Area:
Contrast that with the location of Reddit’s current headquarters, at 520 3rd St. in San Francisco, and you can start to see why a faction of the company’s employees may have been aghast at the prospect of a move. Its office building, which it shares with Wired magazine, is among the more desirable addresses in what has become the hottest neighborhood in the world for tech startups.
The neighbors include Yelp, Square, and Dropbox. Across the street is the famous South Park playground where Jack Dorsey claims to have hatched the idea for Twitter. The San Francisco Giants play baseball a few blocks away. A move from there to Daly City is loosely comparable to a New York City fashion designer moving from Chelsea to Yonkers.
But it isn’t merely pride and snobbery that would make Reddit employees loath to pick up stakes for a San Mateo County office park. SoMa is easily accessible by foot and by transit from San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, where the majority of them presumably dwell. Daly City, for most, would require a lengthy, traffic-snarled commute—probably by car, or at best by park-and-ride. Many who do not own a car today would feel compelled to buy one, but finding a place to park it in San Francisco is the stuff of nightmares. A single parking spot there costs more per month than a one-bedroom apartment in most of the country.
Did I mention Wong planned to prohibit Reddit employees from working remotely?
So, to return to the second half of the original question: Why would Yishan Wong want to move Reddit to Daly City? Well, the rent is much cheaper, and no doubt the company could get a much larger office space there than it could in San Francisco, Palo Alto, or elsewhere in the Bay Area. If Reddit is outgrowing its current space and can’t afford anything large enough in a desirable location, Daly City could start to seem like an acceptable middle ground—especially if you already have your own car and garage.
The broader context for the Reddit office-space flap is that the latest tech boom has sent San Francisco real-estate prices spiraling beyond reason. The median one-bedroom apartment in SoMa now fetches $3,359 a month. And prime office spaces are pushing toward an almost unfathomable $100 per square foot.
At those rates, it isn’t just the working class and the middle class that are being priced out. It isn’t just family-owned businesses. What the Reddit story reveals is that wealthy tech startups have pushed San Francisco real-estate prices so high that almost nobody can afford a large office space there—not even a wealthy tech startup.
I think this article is actually a bit misleading in its details. I strongly suspect the Daly City site would have been in one of the Class A office towers within a couple blocks of Daly City BART -- it's not like they would have been located in a strip mall next to the cemetery, like the article insinuates. So all the current employees from the East Bay and SF would have been able to take BART almost to the door of the new office... and I seriously doubt any of them were driving to work anyway at their old location, there is literally ZERO parking there for love or money.
Also, SOMA is not exactly a commuter paradise especially for women. BART is 1 or 1.3 miles away from Reddit's current office on foot (depending on how much human excrement you prefer on your commute) -- and SF's abysmal public transit planning has never really figured out how to move people around SOMA, they are literally still several years away from connecting BART to Caltrain in a straight shot. The people who would have really been screwed by Yishan's plan were those who live on the Peninsula and take Caltrain, who would have had to add a long outdoor transfer at Millbrae to their commutes.
So the actual practical details are largely a wash, unless Reddit's corporate culture involves a lot of expensive day drinking which I sort of suspect not. I think the dispute came down to some kind of nebulous PERCEPTION or CULTURE issue -- like "How will we recruit hipsters in Daly City?" or "Can't we keep our cozy homeless-infested enclave while the revenue team aka small-town Mormons moves to Daly City?" or something along those lines. Those issues are actually harder to solve because there is no solution that will make everyone happy... and as anyone who has had employees knows, their desire for perks only goes in one direction.
Thanks for the insight into the travel, commute, environment, culture.
Sorry for becoming Answer Man there, but as you know it can be sort of maddening when the press turns THEIR OWN perceptions into an article supposedly about reality, while ignoring the actual facts!
Yeah, I can't think of a single startup in Daly City.
So I think you're right that Daly City is perceived as uncool for startups.
Reddit probably wants to be near hot startups, to be hot by proximity.
That suggests staying in SF, the home of Twitter, Pinterest, Dropbox, Airbnb, Uber, Stripe, and Square.
Foster City is more upscale than Daly City.
Daly City was good if the goal was to be inexpensive and accessible to all but convenient to none.
It sounds like the board -- and the employees -- wanted to stay in San Francisco where it would be easier to attract talent that prefers San Francisco.
I don't blame them, but at some point when all the expensive talent leaves for greener pastures, they have to be replaced with lower paid people who really can't afford the housing prices or big city life. :-) Thanks for the Geo-cultural insights to the Bay area! I've been there a million times, but I always learn something new.
There are always new things to learn about the Bay area.
And I think Reddit thinks of itself as a company that will always be able to afford the housing prices and big city life.