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Google Closes London Startup Office Hub, Saying It Doesn't Need A Building To Run It


Google said Monday it will close a seven-storey hub to help tech startups it leases in east London, because it does not need a physical building to provide the support that fast-growing companies require. 

Google For Startups was a 25K SF space at 4-5 Bonhill Street near Old Street in east London, in the heart of the area dubbed Tech City and Silicon Roundabout by the UK government a decade ago because of the high concentration of tech startups.

The building is owned by the City of London, Land Registry documents said, and Google signed a 10-year lease on the space in 2012 at a rent of £19.50 per SF, TechCrunch reported

Rents in the area have more than tripled in the past 10 years, and rather than sign a new lease at a much higher cost, Google has decided to take its services for startups in London fully digital. The decision was forced on the company during the coronavirus pandemic, and the Bonhill Street space has been closed since last March. 

“The U.K. startup community doesn’t need access to a single-shared physical space as much as it needs access to resources, mentors, and programs available at scale, anywhere,” Google said in a statement on the decision. “And so as the ecosystem develops, so does our approach.”

“When I first set foot in Campus London in 2012, it felt like magic,” Google For Startups UK Head Marta Krupińska said. “It’s played a pivotal role in making London such a successful startup ecosystem and after almost 10 years, a new chapter opens. So much to celebrate, and still so much work to do.”

Google’s teams will continue delivering programming remotely and in-person around the country going forward. Similar facilities in other cities around the world, including Madrid, Tokyo, São Paulo and Tel Aviv, are not being closed. 

Data from Carter Jonas predicted that rents on the Old Street area will fall by about 12.5% in the year to March 2022, Bloomberg reported. Google expects about 60% of its staff to work in the office a few days a week, the company has previously said, with about 20% able to apply to work permanently from home.