Wednesday, January 23, 2013
How Google's Old Offices Are Becoming A Tech Hub, with ROC's Walter Grieves
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
In a sign of the growth of the Silicon Beach technology world, last year, Google moved its headquarters out of a space on Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica, and into a new fancy headquarters space in Venice. However, it appears the spirit of innovation and technology didn't leave Google's old space: instead, that office has become Real Office Centers (realofficecenters.com), an office center which on a recent Friday looked to have become somewhat of a hub for Silicon Beach's startup and investors. We dropped in recently, and found a screening session for the Tech Coast Angels; a number of former StartEngine, MuckerLab, and LaunchpadLA startups in residence; not more than a few startup founders wandering the halls; and a long list of upcoming technology networking events on the calendar. We talked with Walter Grieves, who is working on ROC's Community Integration efforts, about the space and what's happening there.
What's the idea with ROC?
Walter Grieves: Our goal is to bring together universities, startups, and investors in one place. We find that events are kind of the glue that sticks that all together. Today, we just had a screening for the Tech Coast Angels, they're screening companies and having lunch here. They're using the ROC platform to have their events in all one place, and take their investing from 8 to 30 days, down from 90 days. We do none of our own events, none of our own education, and none of our own acceleration. Instead, we partner with all the companies provide those services. We are partnering with every event company you can think of, including General Assembly, TechZulu, Digital LA, and others. We hosted Digital LA's Silicon Beach Fest recently. This is a neutral space in Santa Monica. Our goal is to create a neutral center where all the companies can come and collaborate. We have startups from all the accelerators here, from MuckerLab, LaunchpadLA, StartEngine, all here already, plus venture backed companies.
How long have you been open?
Walter Grieves: We've been open for 3 months. We have 60 offices on the first floor, and 50 are now filled. The second floor is opening up in about a month, and that's about 20 percent leased. The appetite for space has just been voracious.
What's the mix of your clients?
Walter Grieves: We have 20 percent entertainment and about 50 percent tech startups.
How are you working with the universities?
Walter Grieves: We partnered with USC, UCLA, and Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Anderson, Annenberg Center, we have an internship program. Most of the companies here take interns, and we've organized things like that. We also hackathons and other events. We had the AT&T hackathon here in April, UCLA hackathon. The goal is to help the universities and students connect with companies.
What's the idea behind the community use of space here?
Walter Grieves: The community here gets to figure out how they want to use the space. It's up to the community. We're just a neutral platform for the community. We think of ourselves as an open source workspace. We also have lots of people popping in too. There aren't that many new ideas in real estate, it's all about how you execute.
It looks like you've targeted both entertainment and technology here?
Walter Grieves: This is our feeling. Digital content is the software of Los Angeles. If you look at Los Angeles and you consider the entertainment is really tech, in many ways it is, we have one of the largest tech cities in the country. We really believe our goal is to bridge entertainment and technology together. We're even building a digital media lab on our second floor. Digital editing bays, green screen, we're building a radio and live podcast center with Ken Rutkowski. We want entertainment and digital, East and West, to meet. We just see so much potential. We'll be doing a digital movie screening here, digital film fest. It's just such an exciting time to working on this project.