Inc: The Luckiest Office Buildings for Startups

By Jennifer Alsever on April 16, 2015.

For most founders, the checklist for office space includes a good location, affordable rent, and plenty of light. But entrepreneur Kevin McCurdy had something else in mind when he set his sights on a small, nondescript space in Palo Alto, California: mojo. Located at 165 University Avenue, it had been dubbed "the lucky office," because it was home to the early days of Google, PayPal, and other wildly successful startups. "It was a magic space," says McCurdy. "We were willing to pay a premium for the karma."

Perhaps the office does have some good juju. When McCurdy's photo-printing site Picaboo was struggling to find engineers in the early days, two from Stanford happened to knock on the door, looking for work. Eight years later, those engineers (and friends they recruited) are still with Picaboo, which has since moved to a larger home to accommodate its more than 80 employees. We've compiled seven addresses that seem to have startup mojo for those willing to pay the price.

Planting a Flag In SoHo
This former sewing factory in SoHo is surrounded by trendy shops, restaurants, and bars. At about $60 per square foot, rent is not cheap, but the loft architecture of the building is ideal for businesses that want big, open floor plans (and room for happy hours and all-hands meetings). Some tenants angle to "capture the flag"--i.e., grow big enough to hang a banner with the company's name on it on the outside of the building. ZocDoc got one after expanding from 10,000 to 72,000 square feet in the past four years.

568 BROADWAY, NEW YORK CITY
Current tenants: Thrillist, ZocDoc, Foursquare
Size: 300,000-square-foot, 12-story building
Luck level: 3/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY
Hip and Historic
The big driver for tenants of this former furniture factory? Affordable rent, proximity to cheap eats and dive bars, and a distinctive design. When Zipcar was here, a large, glass-ceilinged atrium in the center of the building became a space for its holiday parties, as well as a casual conference area and lunchroom. Plus, there's plenty of room to expand (or there was): HubSpot now takes up three floors for its staff of 700.

25 FIRST STREET, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
Previous and current tenants: Zipcar, HubSpot, Sonos
Size: 220,000-square-foot, four-story building
Luck level: 3/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY

The Ultimate Check In
Foursquare helped these offices--located above the former home of The Village Voice--achieve cult-level status within New York City's tech scene. When, in 2012, Foursquare couldn't squeeze more than 100 or so employees inside its 7,700-square-foot office, the company moved out. Techstars then moved in, turning the place into a home for dozens of the accelerator's startups. One thing remained the same: When Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley became a mentor at Techstars, he settled back into the same office he'd had when his company was in the building. (The new Techstars office was immediately popular on Foursquare.) Other startups here have included Plated, CompStak, and Curbed.

36 COOPER SQUARE, NEW YORK CITY
Previous tenants: Foursquare, Techstars
Size: 50,000-square-foot, seven-story building
Luck level: 4/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY
The Y Combinator Dorm The Crystal Tower in Russian Hill got the nickname "Y Scraper" after it became popular with Y Combinator companies looking for a place to work, sleep, and eat ramen noodles. The appeal? Furnished apartments and month-to-month leases, perfect for a three-month incubator. In 2007, Weebly paid $2,650 per month and crammed three people into a two-bedroom apartment here. As many as 12 to 14 startups have been housed in the apartment building at once.

2140 TAYLOR STREET, SAN FRANCISCO
Previous tenants: Dropbox, Reddit, Scribd, Weebly, Justin.tv
Size: 14-story residential apartment complex
Luck level: 3/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY

The Heart of the Valley
This building includes "the lucky office," Google's headquarters in 1999 (back when it still had an exclamation mark in its logo). After Google left the 2,500-square-foot space, the landlord began asking prospective tenants for equity. Since then, many startups have paid reverence to the corner where Google put its first server. Legend says it's good luck to drink from the algae-covered decorative fountain in the courtyard.

165 UNIVERSITY AVENUE, PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA
Previous tenants: Google, PayPal, Logitech
Size: 10,000-square-foot, two-story retail and office building
Luck level: 5/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY

The Social Mecca

In 2006, Twitter (then known as Obvious Corporation) started in the SoMa neighbor­hood in this warehouselike space, where the only sources of natural light were two skylights and small block-glass windows. Founder Evan Williams used to work in a little nook under the lofted conference room. After Twitter had outgrown the offices and moved around the corner, Instagram took over the space in 2010. (Early company photos of the office are heavily filtered.) Since Twitter's day, SoMa has become a popular neighborhood for startups. Construction of 480,000 square feet of office space is now underway.

164 SOUTH PARK STREET, SAN FRANCISCO
Previous tenants: Twitter, Instagram
Size: 6,400-square-foot, split level building
Luck level: 4/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY
Far East Meets West
As other landlords were courting law firms, Gery Gomez welcomed fledgling startups to his Potrero Hill building, offering flexible rent deals and fatherly advice. "He was a godfather to all these startups," says Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Kevin Hartz. Back in 2002, five or six startups worked together in an open, 1,500-square-foot warehouse area, sharing space with the storage of an Asian furniture boutique. According to startup lore, the store's Tibetan prayer wheel was believed to bring good fortune. The building has since been transformed into office suites.

208 UTAH STREET, SAN FRANCISCO
Current and previous tenants: Trulia, Zynga, TripIt, Eventbrite, Flixster
Size: 76,450-square-foot, four-story building
Luck level: 3/5
PHOTO: EMMA KELLY

Regina Glick

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