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Meet Liquidspace's New Space

San Francisco Office

S.F.-based LiquidSpace connects businesses to more than 5,000 workspaces across the US and Australia, and for the first time in its three-year existence, the company finally got its own physical space to call home. (No more riding the rails.) We checked out the new digs at 25 Taylor this morning. CEO Mark Gilbreath tells us why now was the right time: Over the past year there's been a gradual massing of Liquidspace employees in and around the Bay Area (in total, 30 are spread over two continents). He's not calling it an office but a "clubhouse," which seats a seven-person design team. 

At any time, 20 employees may be in and out for popup company activities or simply to sip some java and play checkers in the shared common area, above. The company is getting ready to launch a new product called travel manager for corporate travel managers that makes booking office space as easy as a flight, he says. As more companies across the Bay Area battle high rents and retention, he's seeing them get creative with their real estate. That means having a smaller core location—like he's done at 25 Taylor—as a periodic coming-together location versus being married to the 9-to-5 office space. (It's like the coffee shop in Friends.)

His prescription to some local tenants prepping to sign monster leases is to take on smaller, long-term space. Box's rumored 400k SF lease could be 200k SF, he contends. His beef with the conventional real estate model is it's woefully too slow in terms of how companies acquire space to be able to support their resiliency. When Salesforce went through the process of building out its HQ in the city, the deal took years to find a location and go through entitlements. In the hyper-dynamic nature of a business landscape, combined with unexpected events (i.e. terrorism), you have to have a strategy around operations on how to respond.

Above, VP of sales Jeff Johnson is hard at work in Liquidspace's weeks-old clubroom. So who's doing it right? More employees across the US are no longer getting 200 SF to 300 SF to themselves, he says. Accenture, for instance, is way under 100 SF/employee, with an 8:1 desk ratio. (You want a desk, arm wrestle for it.) It's densifying its internal footprint and complementing that with space on demand. Workplace 2.0 then becomes not identified as a space a company leases, but rather where employees sit and work, he says.