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Uber In Mission Bay: The Mindset And Planning Behind Uber's HQ Consolidation

Uber’s move and consolidation in Mission Bay was part luck, part intention. Getting a large block of space where the company could direct what the space would provide was very lucky, Uber Head of Global Workspace Adony Beniares said. Demand remains high in San Francisco, vacancy is less than 5% and few big blocks are available.

Uber In Mission Bay: The Mindset And Planning Behind Uber's HQ Consolidation
Rendering of Uber's Mission Bay headquarters in San Francisco

Uber was looking to consolidate its operations, and Mission Bay proved to be the best location, especially as the waterfront neighborhood adds amenities through the construction of Chase Center (the future home of the Golden State Warriors) and Pier 70, creating a 24/7 community, according to Beniares. Uber previously planned to expand with an office in Downtown Oakland, but ended up selling the office to CIM Group earlier this year.

Building a corporate campus in one spot is a huge benefit, he said.

“As you grow as a company, having everyone on one floor is better than two floors,” Beniares said. “Building a corporate campus and having it consolidated is better than having it ... across town.”

Teams will be able to sit closer together within a flexible work environment, he said.

Uber’s New Office Features

Uber In Mission Bay: The Mindset And Planning Behind Uber's HQ Consolidation
Rendering of Uber's Misson Bay headquarters

Uber’s 422K SF Mission Bay campus at 1455 and 1515 Third St. will create better connections to the outdoors and open spaces. A good chunk of meeting space will be outside and there will be roof decks and indoor/outdoor spaces, Beniares said. The campus, designed by SHoP Architects, is being developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Employees will have access to natural light, which is something employees desire, Beniares said. Building cores, bathrooms and mechanical systems are all on one side of the building to create more open space so employees will be within 20 feet to 30 feet of windows. Conference rooms will not be placed next to windows to free up more window space.

Uber employees want flexible work environments where they can have head-down space to focus, but also collaborative space. Each team workspace will be adjustable to what the team’s needs are whether it be recruiters who need more phone booth space to make private phone calls or teams that prefer more open, collaborative areas. The flexible work environment will let people sit where they want when they want, Beniares said.

Beniares said he expects employees to start moving from Uber's three offices along Market Street into the Mission Bay campus beginning in 2020. No plans have yet been made for the Market Street offices, and Uber is keeping its options open depending on its 2020 headcount, Beniares said.

Relationships With Landlords Make Or Break Deals

Uber In Mission Bay: The Mindset And Planning Behind Uber's HQ Consolidation
Uber Head of Global Workplace Adony Beniares

Among the things Uber looks for in a new space is a quality landlord and a good relationship with a landlord that goes beyond just signing the paperwork, Beniares said. Landlords open to discussion during the leasing process have been more positive for Uber.

“If a landlord is just into the bottom line and getting the most square feet from a vibrant and growing company, that’s not for us,” Beniares said.

Having an understanding of the difference between a tech company and financial firm also is beneficial since companies like Uber have different needs and wants, especially with regards to what employees prefer in their workspaces. Landlords that can leverage multiple sites also are preferred, and Uber works with landlords to lease multiple sites within the owner’s portfolio.

Prop M, which allocates 950K SF of new office space each year, also played a part in Uber’s decision. Beniares said Uber tends to consider space that is already allocated or has a reasonable chance of being allocated to ensure the space would actually be available when the company needed it. 

Find out more about Uber's Mission Bay headquarters from Beniares at Bisnow's San Francisco State of the Market event Jan. 10.