We learned about Zendesk moving to Mid-Market to take a advantage of the city’s recent payroll tax exemption about two months ago. But, we so tired of how incensed some people were by what they saw as an impending threat of gentrification, that we didn’t write anything about it at the time.
Zendesk, a company that originally started in Denmark and moved to SoMa in 2009, sells cloud-based help desk software. They currently have 80 employees, but they’re planning to almost double their staff by the end of the year so they needed a bigger space. Back in June, when they started the move, they wrote on their Zengage blog:
The city’s been an amazing incubator for some of the world’s most innovative tech companies. Its energy meshes well with our own disruptive aspirations, and its signature quirkiness is often in line with our own. This city has been very good to us, and in return, we want to be good to it.
Which is why we’re thrilled to be one of the first tech companies to move to the Mid-Market neighborhood. We’ll be taking advantage of the city’s new tax incentive to bring pre-IPO companies to that longtime blighted neighborhood. [...]
It’s a chance for us to help turnaround a notoriously distressed area and helps us stay firmly planted in San Francisco. It will also help us expand our 80-person office to include an additional 70 new hires by the end of 2011.
Not to say we haven’t been happy here on good ol’ 410 Townsend Street, but the move to 989 Market Street, well, it’s going to be pretty cool. We’re excited to meet our neighbors: the Warfield, Show Dogs, the infamous Tu-Lan, and the soon-to-be Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers, and of course, our yet-to-be seen tech colleagues who we’ll soon be working next to.
Yesterday we had the chance to visit their brand new 17,500 square foot space at 989 Market Street (almost at the corner with 6th Street, above Blick’s, where they are already regular customers). We were there with a bunch of more ‘serious’ journalists (dead tree, dead air, etc.) for the official announcement of their move to the space (their actual move just happened a week ago). Zendesk’s CEO and founder, Mikkel Svane (who was wearing a great hat) welcomed Mayor Ed Lee for a little welcome-to-the-neighborhood speech. And since everyone is in campaign mode, David Chiu was there as well smiling a lot. Lee and Chiu, who agreed so much on everything that they even almost hugged each other when a reporter asked about their ‘deteriorating relationship’, both called for a comprehensive tax reform. Lee said that San Francisco, as a ‘global and international city’ needs to be more welcoming for businesses.
Lee also announced the launch of a website to coordinate revitalization efforts for the neighborhood. He said that the website, Central Market Partnership, will provide information about neighborhood news and events, as well as about programs and resources in the area. We’re assuming that it will have less snark than us, but with less content so pick your poison(s).
Afterwards, Lee was shown a helpdesk they had prepared for him and they asked him to provide customer service on the phone. All the photographers crowded his cubicle so I missed the details of the conversation, but I’m sure it wasn’t as amusing as it should have been. Fortunately, that didn’t last long so we moved on to exploring their shiny new offices. We particularly loved their awesome kitchen (if I worked there I would never cook at home again), the Guitar Hero room which is apparently very popular with all employees, and the cabinets with a cushion on top for impromptu meetings by your desk.
In between admiring their decorative Buddhas and nice meeting rooms, we also found out that Zendesk has just signed a lease for an additional floor in the building, which would double their space. In spite of the challenges of being on Market & 6th, they all said they are very happy with their new location. Most of their employees commute to work by public transit or bike, and they are loving being in the middle of things and so close to everything. Svane even said that when they found that space they didn’t think twice about moving in, that it was a “quick love affair”. Let’s hope that once the romantic infatuation phase passes (ie post-IPO), their love for the area doesn’t go away.