Odd place to work: Snap has bought up condos because it can not find enough office space

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.


At the time I joined, the headquarters building in Venice was about a half of a mile away from the office where I worked. If you knew where all of Snap’s buildings were (and most people, even most employees, didn’t), you could walk around miles of Venice Beach streets pointing out unmarked office after unmarked office as you went along. A seemingly empty storefront here, a nondescript house there, the top level of an apartment building over that way.

The particular building I worked in was a set of beach-front condos on Speedway. The condo my sub-team worked out of had originally held us on the second floor and a larger team on the first floor. However, at the time Snap was in the process of moving its offices to Santa Monica, and the team on the first floor had already moved out shortly before I arrived. That left just the three of us working on the second floor of an otherwise empty luxury condominium.

The empty space contributed to the sense of isolation from the rest of the company, but it was also just bizarre to work in. I found myself spending eight or more hours a day in this excessively luxurious building that I could never in my life afford to live in. The kitchen was spacious, decked out in high-end appliances and beautifully done tile, and completely unused aside from the fridge. The upstairs bathroom was bigger than most bedrooms, and came complete with a shower that could spray water from at least five nozzles, one of which was mounted in the ceiling.

This condo, of course, was not zoned for commercial use. It was in some kind of mixed zone, intended for professionals who lived in and worked out of the units, which led to what I called the phantom resident. Our building, as well as the other condos in the complex, had a single “conference room” in it, which was in fact a bedroom. When I say that it was a bedroom, I don’t just mean that it would be identified as a bedroom on the condo’s floor plan, I mean that this room had a fully made up bed crammed into it next to the conference table and video conferencing unit.

For months I assumed this was some kind of weird left-over from the previous occupant, but I later found out that the bed was there to convince building inspectors that someone lived in the unit, which was a requirement of the mixed-use zoning. I still don’t know for certain whether this supposed resident existed, but I came into work fairly early and other members of my team worked fairly late, and none of us had ever seen a non-employee enter the building. I later heard from a coworker that there were designated employees who would show up as “residents” for inspections, but that may or may not have been a joke.

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