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Real Estate Bisnow (San Francisco)

Visa's Cool New Digs—and Vision

Visa is back in the city in a big way at One Market, and we toured the brand new space just as the paint finished drying.

Yesterday Visa invited a select crowd to christen its new office (the lobby area, above, boasts a front-row view of the Ferry Building), with CEO Charlie Scharf saying "we are a very different Visa than in the past." The 111k SF is for 500 employees in tech and product development, and meant to reflect a spirit of innovation, collaboration, and connectivity to a world where commerce can be taken anywhere, he says. A few years ago, Visa uprooted its corporate HQ from S.F. and planted it in Foster City. There it and 3000 employees will remain, but many cutting-edge types are now back in the city including the mobile payment application group. 

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The big tech announcement was Visa Checkout, a new way to pay online with just a few clicks. Shopping is no longer about being limited to plastic at a physical retailer, says Charlie (far right); Visa wants to create the means to pay anywhere using any connected device. Visa invited a star-studded lineup of partners on board that are part of the new experience: Pizza Hut chief digital officer Baron Concors; US Bank chief innovation officer of payment services Dominic Venturo; Staples EVP of global ecommerce Faisal Masud; and United MileagePlus prez Tom O'Toole. Visa SVP of digital solutions Sam Shrauger (third from left) did a live demo of Visa Checkout by ordering a pile of Pizza Hut pizzas to the new office.

The future of flying will even allow people to purchase with Visa Checkout in the air, says Tom. In the past, Charlie says, the payment ecosystem would only show financial institutions as endpoints. Today they're still there but many partners make up the "commerce ecosystem," including big and small tech cos, merchants, device manufacturers, other payment cos and social networks. Visa's space shows how far it's come, with a wall of old school plastic cards progressing into digital displays (left). The office, with exposed ceilings, open layout, and comfortable pods to work and eat in, has the environment young techies crave these days.

With 2.2 billion cardholders around the globe—and some 10k swipes every second!—Visa's got a galaxy of data. Here at the Visa labs space, genius economists and engineers study numbers and spending habits to create capabilities that end up in Charlie's lap (some get funded and turned into products; some don't). This is the first time the space is in the public eye; at its Foster City location a similar lab is locked behind double black doors. We saw some great uses of augmented reality used to drive purchases. Trying to design a home theater at home? Set it up in virtual reality mode and let the wife see what it looks like. Then a transaction gets made. Or apply it to real estate; would that restaurant design work? Find out with a virtual walkthrough behind goggles. 

One engineer personally wants the device—essentially an Android popped into goggles—just to cut down on BART boredom. As a big sponsor of the World Cup, Visa offered the country of Brazil some cross-border transactional and demographic data to predict where people might eat, drink and shop.

  
  
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Emergency Makeover

Sares Regis Group of Northern California (SRGNC) just wrapped up the $78.4M redevelopment and final TIs at Marin Commons, a two-building campus, onebuilding now houses the new Marin County Emergency Operations Facility (EOF) in San Rafael. Jeff Birdwell, president of the Commercial Division for Sares Regis Group of Northern California, says when the next major disaster hits the Bay Area (earthquake), this 328K SF tech hub will be where all the relief support comes from. Right now it's the 911 nerve center, populated by those taking emergency calls. The project also opens up the opportunity for the county to cash in via a fresh tenant leasing program.

Here's Jeff with his 12-year-old son Jake, and today they're off to Baltimore for Jake's lacrosse tournament. The office market isn't particularly robust in Marin, he says. It's always been sleepier compared to the Peninsula and S.F., so trying to figure out how to solve Marin Commons' 31% occupancy issue after it was taken out of foreclosure in 2009 was a feat. SRGNC has revived the overlooked property with energy efficient building systems capable of supporting both small and large tenants. Marin Commons leasing is off to a strong start, and the 1600 building is rounding out 70% occupancy already. 


Summer Fun

Last night, San Francisco Real Estate Exchange (SF|Rex), a networking group made up of young CRE locals, hosted its summer happy hour at Sydney Park Tavern. The group always tries to pick (what else?) young and up-and-coming restaurants to party at. Here Chicago Title Insurance Company assistant VP of nat'l commercial sales Stephanie Jensen and real estate CPA Mark Leverette of Burr Pilger Mayer play host to the event, which also included peeps from DTZ, CoStar and Prudential. Missing from the soiree: group prez and Newmark principal Jeff Wilcox, who is a proud new papa.


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What new restaurant have you tried lately? tierney.plumb@bisnow.com

 
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