In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

Who are they trying to impress?

Doing some browsing (I do a lot of that I guess), I stumbled across this site called Office Snapshots which profiles the office space of today's tech companies. Basically it allows geeks to check out the digs, gadgets, and stylish offices of the latest start ups.

While browsing the list of companies, I realized something interesting. A lot of these companies are the trendy web 2.0 companies where you have to squint and turn your head sideways while reading the name to see how it is pronounced. And of course, these companies are VC backed. The thing I find odd is that the VC backed ones have yet to create a revenue stream, and yet they're dumping all this cash into their offices?

I mean, too many of them are located within San Francisco, in a high real estate area, have taken $15+ million in VC funding, and are filled with today's latest trends in hip office furniture and desks. Is it some sort of start up street cred? They do it to attract potential employees? Impress customers? Really, I don't get what the purpose is.

I would expect that kind of impressive office space from some of the established companies like Google, Microsoft, or Apple. You know, the ones who actually generate income. But start-ups?

Firstly, if I worked for or was looking to work for a company like that, I'd be looking at it thinking ok, they got $15 mil from a VC, they've yet to generate income, and are blowing their wad on offices? Does this sound like a financially stable company? Or even if they are still doing ok despite their office decisions, does this sound like the kind of company I'd work for? Is it wise use of their money? What is the ROI on trendy office space?

If I was looking at it as a customer (as I do with one of them), I'd be thinking why the hell are you blowing that chunk on office digs when you service still sucks. It would be better spent on support, improving your service, or hiring talent to transform a cool service into a sustainable business.

Not as if I was partial or anything, but I much prefer how Telligent philosophy of function over form. They have the Nerf guns and scooters all over, but that can be had at Toys'R'Us for a few hundred no problem. When it comes to the office itself, there is much more focus on being modest. I mean, for a while ago, the CTO, Jason Alexander, was sharing a conference room with 4-5 interns as his "office".

But I'm still left with the question... to what purpose who impressive offices serve start-ups? Who exactly are they trying to impress?

Perhap I'm biased since I didn't go to a Start-up training camp Harvard, Stanford, MIT, or any one of the Ivy league tech colleges... I wasn't indoctrinated with the VC funded start-up mentality.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

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