LivingSocial, the District-founded and headquartered daily deals company, moved into its sixth office in the city recently after renovating the Acme Stove building at 1005-1011 7th Street, on the corner of Seventh Street and New York Avenue.
The space is on street level and directly across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, giving the company the chance for some pretty high visibility, particularly when conventions are in town. Along with Douglas Development, the building’s owner, the company molded a building that was badly deteriorated to match the Silicon Valley playland atmosphere of its other Washington offices.
Although LivingSocial was only founded in 2007, it has quickly become one of the District’s largest employers; a spokesman says it has 956 D.C. employees. And although many companies are projecting little or no employment growth, LivingSocial expects to double the number of employees it has in the District over the next four years, to about 1,850. For comparison’s sake, Pepco reported having 1,382 local employees at the end of 2011 and WGL Holdings, the parent of Washington Gas, reported 1,399 local employees.
All the new talent has not translated into profitability yet, as we learned in February when Amazon, which owns almost one-third of the company, revealed in a regulatory filing that LivingSocial lost $558 million in 2011. LivingSocial’s revenue was $245 million.
But Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has taken a strong interest in the company, meeting multiple times with LivingSocial’s chief executive, Tim O’Shaughnessy, who is the son-in-law of Washington Post Co. Chairman and Chief executive Donald Graham. Gray told me when he was visiting another start-up, LearnZillion, recently that he was working on a plan to ensure LivingSocial would remain in the city long into the future. “We are going to do whatever we can to accommodate them and keep them here,” the mayor said.
One challenge for the company is that even though all six of its D.C. offices are within walking distance (the furthest from the Acme Stove building is its headquarters at 1445 New York Ave.) it isn’t ideal having employees at six locations rather than, say, one or two. LivingSocial wants to remain in the Gallery Place area and has been exploring opportunities to consolidate operations into one location.
Where will they go? LivingSocial officials say they have not decided, but Douglas Development (the company’s landlord at five of the six locations) recently submitted plans to build a 380,000-square-foot office building which, as the Washington City Paper pointed out recently, is adorned with what looks like Living Social’s logo on the side. Asked why that logo was there, Norman Jemal of Douglas Development said in an e-mail, “That is the same question I asked.” He declined to elaborate.
See Capital Business Monday for a look at the interior of the newly renovated LivingSocial offices in the Acme Stove building.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz