Twitter CEO Dick Costolo sat down Thursday night to talk about an issue close to the hearts of San Franciscans: What the growing company’s move to the mid-Market neighborhood means for residents, and how Twitter likes the new digs.
“Twitter is a city company,” he said Thursday at OpenCoSF, a conference meant to integrate city tech companies with the local community. “The company needs to be in the city. It feels gritty to be in the city. It was born in the city and felt important for us to stay in the city.”
Twitter’s move to the still developing mid-Market neighborhood was considered a major win for San Francisco and Mayor Ed Lee, who pushed hard to keep the company from moving south, but dropping the high-tech company in the middle of a long-rundown area has created questions about whether the company will integrate at all into the neighborhood or remained a walled fortress, and whether its presence will make the area unaffordable for previous residents.
Costolo said when co-founder Evan Williams originally mentioned the company’s current building as an option, the realtor didn’t think they’d want to make the move.
“The realtor said, ‘You don’t want to look at that, that’s in a neighborhood… You wouldn’t want to be over there.'”
But Costolo said they were intrigued by the amount of space available in the building, and the degree to which it would let the company expand.
“The building has beautiful bones,” he said. “There are just amazing Art Deco pieces inside of it. And we have the critical mass that we we thought we could move into this space.”
The New York Times published a profile of Costolo this past weekend, mentioning that the CEO has been known to leave work to have dinner with his kids and return back to work in the late evening and encourages co-workers to do the same. Costolo noted on Thursday that positioning the offices in the city created a more central location for work, making it easier for employees to balance work and personal life with more limited commutes.
“I think it affords people a more flexible way to continue to be productive both in their time in the office and out of the office,” he said.
An audience member immediately asked Costolo whether his employees would engage with the neighborhood, or whether they’d remain in Twitter’s offices for lunch — the internal food options aren’t too shabby. Costolo said it’s a tough question, because he wants his employees to get out in the neighborhood, and doesn’t want Twitter’s offices to be a “castle,” but there’s a practical element to having people stay focused near their desks during the work day. He said it’s something the company will continue to work on, with other tech companies watching Twitter’s evolution closely.
“There’s no doubt about it, there’s a huge migration of tech companies to San Francisco,” famed investor Ron Conway said.