The homegrown Web deals company LivingSocial is on the hunt for as
much as 350,000 square feet — about the size of three Wal-Mart stores — in which to consolidate its young and rapidly growing workforce.
Founded in 2007, LivingSocial has more than 1,000 employees and leases space at six locations in downtown Washington, much of it in the Gallery Place area. Its headquarters are at 1445 New York Ave. NW and in May, to accommodate its growth, it leased all of 918 F Street NW from Douglas Development.
But other tech juggernauts aren’t shuttling between different office buildings; they are designing sleek, fun, inclusive campuses (see Facebook’s, or Google’s) that represent their company’s culture. As a company that envisions itself driving revolution of local commerce, why wouldn’t LivingSocial do the same?
“We need to find a space that both fits our business needs and satisfies...the wants and needs of our employees,” said Brendan P. Lewis, spokesman for the company.
Looking for new offices doesn’t mean just a place where LivingSocial’s employees can enjoy playthings like a ball pit (it already has one), Lewis explained, but somewhere that provides everything its 20-something employees want, especially easy commutes and access to their favorite restaurants, bars and entertainment attractions. Most of the
company’s employees sit elbow-to-elbow in less than 110 square feet per person; even O’Shaughnessy’s corner office fits just two extra chairs, a coat rack and freezer.
“That means amenities inside and outside the office, be it happy hour spots or lunch spots or the like, and a place that helps us to attract the very best talent in the area,” he said.
Seeing LivingSocial’s dramatic rise, neighboring jurisdictions have tried to poach the company, but given the company’s interest in a vibrant urban neighborhood, LivingSocial is very hard to picture in the suburbs.
Chief executive Tim O’Shaughnessy, who is the son-in-law of Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham, has spoken glowingly about “becoming part of the fabric of this city,” and the responsibility his growing company has to the District and its economy. Employees are more likely to live in Columbia Heights or H Street Northeast than in McLean.
Lewis reiterated those feelings.
“We are a Washington, D.C. born-and-bred company and we want to find a situation that allows us to continue to house and grow within the city,” he said.
Where will LivingSocial land? If it wants a campus near its current stomping grounds, it may have to pay top dollar for a newly constructed building in the Mount Vernon Square area. Howard Riker, of Hines, lead developer of CityCenter DC has taken note of the company’s search.
But using the brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle, LivingSocial has looked at neighborhoods outside the city’s traditional core which — until a few years ago — didn’t offer much in the way of amenities.
That is changing. A half dozen office developers would be happy to build LivingSocial a campus in the area branded as Capitol Riverfront, which would put the company next to the Nationals Park, a Harris Teeter and a slew of new retail and restaurants at The Yards. It’s not the traditional place for a corporate headquarters, but it might work nicely for a company whose applicants may be asked to sing or do ‘the worm’ during job interviews.