San Francisco Business Times
Two classic South of Market creative buildings have traded for well over $600 a square
foot, smashing records for that type of brick and timber asset.
Affiliates of Zurich Alternative Asset Management paid $47 million, or $645 a square
foot, for 410 Townsend, a building that is 100 percent leased to Adobe, according to
market sources, Past tenants include Yammer, Eventbrite, Playdom, and Zendesk.
Zurich also picked up 539 Bryant, paying $630 a square foot, or $35.2 million, for the
55,000-square-foot building that was Twitter’s first home in San Francisco.
The seller was PMI Properties, which declined to comment through Chris
Economou, the group’s director of asset management. The $47 million price tag for
410 Townsend represents a huge windfall for PMI, which bought it for $16.8 million in
2006. The cost basis for 539 Bryant was less than $16 million, or $280 a square
foot, according to city records.
While some modern south financial district buildings like 555 Mission St. have traded
for a higher price per pound, the highest comparable to the two PMI sales is probably
475 Brannan St., which sold in 2012 for $147 million, or $605 per square foot.
Other companies that PMI put into the two buildings over the years include Tech
Crunch, Guardian Edge, OpenDNS, Xobni, Scribd, Zendesk, Jaspersoft, Ustream,
Yousendit, Aperture (sold to Google), Iconic (sold to Sony), and Coding Technologies
(sold to Dolby). Recently, Adobe leased most of 410 Townsend for ten years and HKS
Architects leased the ground floor of 539 Bryant for ten years.
Buildings that have hit the market since early August include 114 Sansome St., 201
Spear St., 703 Market St., 888 Brannan St., 655 Montgomery St., and 350 Rhode Island
St. Even if all the properties hitting the market close this year, 2013 is shaping up to be
much slower year than 2012 for office building investors. San Francisco is on track to
see a total sales volume between $2 billion and $2.5 billion. Last year, which was the
second biggest year for office sales in history, the city logged $6 billion in sales.
Caroline Rooney, research director at Cushman & Wakefield, said that she expects
building sales velocity to jump in the fourth quarter.
“We think there is going to be a surge of deals closing, both on the leasing and sales
side,” said Rooney. “And because there is still a lack of product on the market, we
expect to continue to see a scarcity premium.”
She said that rising interest rates have not been much of a factor for investors. “I think
there was a 30 second pause but it didn’t seem to impact the market because there is
so much capital chasing deals."
She said the interest in larger SoMa buildings on the block, 795 Folsom and 888
Brannan St., would be a good berometer for where the market is headed “Those are
the key assets for investors looking for a piece of San Francisco and a piece of tech.”
J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.
Adobe to take entire SoMa building it remembers well
Premium content from San Francisco Business Times by J.K. Dineen, Reporter
Date: Friday, December 14, 2012, 3:00am PST
JK Dineen - Reporter- San Francisco Business Times
Adobe Systems Inc. is coming full circle in San Francisco, grabbing the SoMa building that it
inherited when it bout MacroMedia for $3.4 billion in 2005.
Adobe signed a 10-year lease of 47,000 square feet at 410 Townsend St., commencing when
Yammer moves from the building on Jan. 31. Adobe intends to occupy the entire 74,000-square-
foot building as other leases expire, to Chris Economou Regional Asset Manager for PMI
Over the past three years, 410 Townsend has reached near-legendary status among
SoMa’s crop of alpha startups, providing an early home to firms such as Yammer Inc.,
Eventbrite Inc., Playdom Inc., and Zendesk.
The building, across the street from the Caltrain Station, has gone from 40 percent
occupied in late 2008 to 100 percent occupied today. During that time, rents have
Jumped from the low $20s a square foot to the low $50s.
With the lease, PMI’s six-building, 260,000-square-foot San Francisco portfolio is 100
percent leased. “It a very competitive market. Adobe represents a strong credit tenant
and we are happy with the result,” said Economou.
The Adobe lease is the latest in a steady drumbeat of technology leases announced in
the fourth quarter. These deals include Square’s 250,000-square-foot commitment at
1455 Market St., Meraki’s 111,000-square-foot lease at 500 Terry Francois Blvd.,
SquareTrade’s 54,000-square-foot deal at 360 Third St. and Splunk’s 30,000-square-
foot expansion at 250 Brannan St.
Adobe employees moving to Townsend Street will include the Omniture group, which
is now at 250 Brannan St. in space that Splunk is taking over.
“If you go into that building, there is a wall of fame and it starts with MacroMedia,”
Adobe employees moving to Townsend Street will include the Omniture group, which
is now at 250 Brannan St. in space that Splunk is taking over.
“If you go into that building, there is a wall of fame and it starts with MacroMedia,”
Colliers International SoMa team — Mike McCarthy, Mike Monroe and Brian McCarthy
— represented PMI. Carter Beim, also of Colliers, represented Adobe.
PMI Properties purchased the 410 Townsend building in 2006 from ROK Properties for
$16.8 million. Based on recent comparisons, the building is now probably worth north
of $35 million.
Tech Boom Drives Turnover At Popular SoMa Address
By PUI-WING TAM
JULY 14, 2011
For a sign of how the region's technology boom is progressing, consider the growth going on at
just one San Francisco building that has attracted start-up tenants.
A year ago, the 75,000-square-foot building at 410 Townsend St., near AT&T Park, had filled to
capacity with young tech companies, after hovering at a 60% vacancy rate in late 2008 as the
financial crisis hit. Now many of those start-ups have grown so much they have had to move
out to bigger digs, while some remaining tenants have cannibalized the space.
Microblogging service Yammer is expanding its offices at 410 Townsend as other companies
move out of the building.
"In 30 years in real estate, this is the fastest-growing building we've ever had," said Chris
Economou, the San Francisco leasing manager for PMI Properties, the landlord for 410
Townsend. "We've never had start-ups that have gone from 10 people to 200 so fast." He adds
that PMI is now able to charge rents of $34 to $35 a square foot at the property, up from $18
to $20 a square foot 18 months ago.
The boom at 410 Townsend underscores how the Bay Area's latest tech boom has gone from
The Wall Street Journal
While 410 Townsend stands out for its high-profile tenants, nearby buildings in the South of
Market neighborhood are drawing similar interest, real-estate professionals say.
Among the companies that have moved out of 410 Townsend because they got too big are
online ticket seller Eventbrite Inc., which shifted to a 30,000-square-foot office in February after
outgrowing its 10,000-square-foot space at the building. Help-desk software company Zendesk
Inc. also is relocating to a 17,000-square-foot space in a month or two because it, too, is
bursting at the seams.
Their departures will allow an existing tenant, microblogging service Yammer Inc., to remain at
410 Townsend but grow. Yammer earlier this year nabbed Eventbrite's old office and now plans
to take over Zendesk's space, beefing up its presence to 30,000 square feet from 10,000 square
feet a year ago. "We outlasted everyone," jokes David Sacks, Yammer's chief executive. "We
were all waiting for each other to move out. It's been a game of chicken."
Meanwhile, tech blog TechCrunch, also a tenant at 410 Townsend, was bought by AOL Inc. last
September for tens of millions of dollars. Kevin Hartz, CEO of Eventbrite, said his firm has grown
to 155 employees from about 80 a year ago, and he expects to hit 200 people by year's end.
"We're in a constant hiring state now," said Mr. Hartz.
Mikkel Svane, Zendesk's CEO, said he deliberately sought a new office that has options for
expansion as his company racks up 30% quarter-over-quarter revenue growth, driven by
customers like Groupon Inc. and others. With 90 employees today, he expects to reach 140 by
While at 410 Townsend, "it was very inspiring to be a part of the building because we were all at
a special stage of our lives," said Mr. Svane, who is relocating Zendesk to San Francisco's Mid-
Market area and can take advantage of a new payroll-tax exemption aimed at revitalizing the
area. "But now we need to grow out. It's all a part of our life cycle."
HKS, Hill Glazier Studio merge in San Francisco office space
Premium content from San Francisco Business Times by J.K. Dineen, Reporter and Blanca
Date: Friday, October 19, 2012, 3:00am
Five years after Palo Alto-based architect Hill Glazier Studio got engaged with HKS Architects
through a corporate merger, the two are moving in together.
HKS and HKS Studio have leased about 9,500 square feet at 539 Bryant St. and will operate as
one firm. The company has been growing, hiring well-known San Francisco architect Thomas
Sprinkle, who was recently design and managing principal with ROMA Design Group. He was
previously with SOM, Hornberger-Worstell and SB Architects. Sprinkle led hospitality projects
such as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Bahamas at Rose Island, the Sheraton Hotel Ka’anapali on Maui
and the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. His Bay Area condo projects include the 88 in San Jose
and the Union SF in the Mission District.
The new office will have about 30 people — 16 from HKS and 14 from Hill Glazier. The building
is owned by PMI Properties, which was represented by Colliers International SoMa team. Jak
Churton and Shap Roeder of CBRE represented the tenant.
In addition, HKS has been bulking up its commercial interiors, hiring Alvaro Rodriguez
from Gensler. Associate Principal Brendan Dunnigan said that the firm is taking
momentum from its restoration of the historic 50 United Nations Plaza to go after
more interiors work. Recent office interior assignments include Constellation Wines,
which is building out a 50,000-square-foot space in Levi’s Plaza. Other HKS projects
include Martin Building Co.’s condo developments at 178 Townsend St. and Potrero
Launch. HKS is working with Crescent Heights on 45 Lansing St., a highrise on Rincon
Hill that was stalled during the recession but is now very much in play. Dunnigan
expects 45 Lansing to break ground next year.
Dunnigan said the new joint office will allow the firm to bring the high-end hospitality
aesthetic Hill Glazier is famous for to all projects.
“We want to infuse all projects with lifestyle amenities to create the level of comfort
you would expect at a resort,” he said.
Big Race for Space in SoMa
JANUARY 26, 2012 By PUI-WING TAM
Start-Ups Quickly Came Calling When 642 Harrison Was Bought by PMI Properties in August,
Just as Prices Began to Take Off For a taste of how heated San Francisco's South of Market
neighborhood has become, consider the eventful year that the four-story building at 642
Harrison Street just went through.
The 50,580-square-foot property went up for sale last year and attracted around a dozen
interested buyers, including publicly traded real-estate investment trusts, or REITs, according to
investors and real-estate executives. Los Angeles-based private investment firm PMI Properties
ultimately snagged the building for $13.3 million, just as the area's property prices soared.
Within days of closing the purchase in August, PMI had numerous technology start-ups
interested in leasing the building's empty 12,710-square-foot second floor. Around a half-dozen
start-ups submitted offers, driving the rent up to an average $39 a square foot, exceeding PMI's
expected $35 a square foot.
By this month, 642 Harrison Street's second floor was leased to energy-software start-up
Opower Inc., which had been searching since last May for more space. "Looking for space
here can be really demoralizing" because of competition for offices, says Ling Ling Yee,
Opower's manager of West Coast operations. "It's really a huge relief" to be done with the
search, she says.
The activity at 642 Harrison Street underscores the ascendancy of the SoMa neighborhood
amid the resurgent local tech economy. Filled with funky office buildings that were formerly
warehouses, SoMa was a destination for young tech firms during the late-1990s dot-com
boom, but tanked after the dot-com bust. In the past two years, the neighborhood has once
again become one of the Bay Area's hottest, populated with fast-growing companies such as
social-games maker Zynga Inc.
SoMa's office vacancy rate has dropped to 11.9% from 18.7% two years ago, putting it at its
lowest level since early 2001, according to real-estate firm Cassidy Turley. Meanwhile, rents
for top-tier SoMa office buildings now average $50 a square foot, up from the mid-$30s a
year earlier, according to Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank. Those rents
exceed San Francisco's Financial District, where rents for comparable space hover around $42
to $43.50 a square foot.
Opower's Ling Ling Yee at 642 Harrison Street, where the energy-software company has
leased the second floor at an average $39 a square foot for three years, more than the
building's owners had expected to get.
The demand for SoMa space has in turn drawn numerous property buyers, who are
renovating buildings to create more office space. REITs such as Kilroy Realty Corp. bought four
SoMa office buildings in 2011 for around $258 million, while Hudson Pacific Properties Inc.
acquired two properties in the neighborhood last year for around $68 million.
SoMa is "one of the very few bright spots" in the commercial real-estate world, says Frank
Fudem, a senior vice president at Cassidy Turley. "It's like we're defying gravity."
"My first impression of 642 Harrison was, this is it," says Ms. Yee. "It hit all the right things and
was well located and the right size."
To win the space, Ms. Yee knew she would have to fork over higher rent. While Opower was
paying in the mid-$20s a square foot for its old office, Ms. Yee and her brokers courted PMI
with an initial offer of $35 a square foot. They slowly moved up the price to an average of $39
a square foot for a three-year lease. Opower's brokers also sent PMI press clippings about the
start-up and showed PMI the company's financials.
Choosing a second-floor tenant ultimately boiled down to Opower and a daily-deals site, says
Mr. Palmer, who declined to name the daily-deals company.
"I thought it would be more difficult to sell a daily-deals site to our lenders," he says, so PMI
went with Opower. "We got a higher rent than we forecast, so it was a good outcome."
The building at 642 Harrison Street, constructed in 1925, went through phases as a coffee
factory and condo project, says Daniel Cressman, a Grubb & Ellis Co. executive vice president
who has sold the property three times over 30 years, including to PMI last August. The previous
owner, a group of individuals, decided to sell last year after unsuccessfully trying to turn the
building into condos, he says.
Jeff Palmer, a managing partner at PMI, which owns three other SoMa buildings that are mostly
filled with tech start-ups, says he wanted to buy more SoMa properties because of the demand
and relative value in the area. "We knew there was a good market because most of our tenants
[in other SoMa buildings] were expanding," he says.
PMI to add to SoMa portfolio with 642 Harrison buy
August 1, 2011
By: J.K. Dineen staff writer
Investor PMI Properties is in contract to grab another piece of San Francisco’s South
of Market neighborhood, agreeing to pay $14 million for 642 Harrison St.
When the acquisition is complete, PMI will own six buildings South of Market and at Jackson
Square totaling 350,000 square feet. The portfolio is 100 percent occupied, and PMI is looking
for more buildings to buy, according to Chris Economou, asset manager for PMI Properties. The
seller was a private investor who had contracted with Ellis Partners to manage the property.
Daniel Cressman of Grubb & Ellis represented the seller.
“642 Harrison is a stable asset in one of the strongest submarkets in the country,” said
Economou. “It’s a natural fit for the PMI portfolio, our SoMa buildings are 100 percent leased
with a waiting list,” said Economou.
PMI adds to its South of Market space
Date: Friday, January 7, 2011, 3:00am PST
By: J.K. Dineen staff writer
Investor PMI Properties has continued its expansion into San Francisco’s South of Market
neighborhood, paying $9.8 million for 625 Third St., a 42,000-square-foot building that is fully
occupied by Ubisoft.
“625 Third St. is a single-tenant deal but is a natural fit for PMI in that it’s tech-based, creative
space,” said Chris Economou asset manager for PMI Properties.
With the acquisition, PMI now owns five buildings South of Market and at Jackson Square
totaling 300,000 square feet. The portfolio is 100 percent occupied, and PMI is looking for more
buildings to buy, according to Chris Economou, asset manager for PMI Properties.
“We are 100 percent occupied and we have tenants that are expanding and growing and we
need more space to put them in,” said Economou.
The deal was completed at the end of the year amid a flood of transactions. In
December, investors pumped some $500 million into downtown property, a cascade of
transactions brought on by a looming tax hike, low interest rates and a growing pool of investors
targeting downtown San Francisco. On Dec. 16, the day before San Francisco’s transfer tax
jumped from 1.5 to 2.5 percent for deals over $10 million, the city logged $325 million in
This included $134 million in acquisitions by Hudson Pacific Properties, which bought both 1455
Market St. and the office portion of Rincon Center. In addition, Patelco sold
By: PUI-WING TAM
April 10, 2010
Start-Up Village Emerges in SoMA's 410 Townsend
The technology start-up scene is rebounding strongly from the recession. That's evident at 410
Townsend Street in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood.
The 75,000-square-foot office building was about 60% vacant in late 2008 when the financial
crisis hit and one of the property's major tenants moved out. Now the landlord, PMI Properties,
says the building is 100% full with Internet start-ups such as microblogging service Yammer Inc.,
online ticket seller Eventbrite Inc., online gaming company Playdom Inc. and help desk software
company Zendesk Inc.
All of the start-ups moved in within the last year. And many are now bursting at the seams as
they grow more quickly than expected. "We've got a competition with Yammer to see who will
outlast the other in this building and get the other's space," says Kevin Hartz, chief executive of
Eventbrite, which has seen its staff grow from 25 last year to around 70 people now. "It's a
The activity at 410 Townsend reflects Silicon Valley's broader tech recovery. As
demand for tech goods picks up, venture-capital financing is ramping up and start-ups
are recruiting new hires. That has fueled the ferment in SoMA, a hip start-up
neighborhood that is home to Twitter Inc. and others. The area's office vacancy rate
peaked in last year's fourth quarter at 30.5% and has since eased to 28.2%, while
average asking rents per square foot have risen to $28.57 from $27.69 late last year,
according to real-estate firm Cornish & Carey Commercial.
Jeffrey Palmer, a partner at PMI Properties, says the firm deliberately sought tech
tenants for 410 Townsend to cluster them together. Each of the 10,000-square-feet
office suites in the four-story building have exposed brick walls, kitchens and state-of-
the-art Internet connections.
Yammer and Eventbrite were the first of the new crop of start-ups to move into 410
Townsend last August. Eventbrite CEO Mr. Hartz and Yammer CEO David Sacks are
friends who invested in each other's companies. Zendesk arrived in August, followed
by Playdom late last year.
In March, networking and security start-up OpenDNS moved in, as did e-commerce
company Shop It To Me Inc. In June, tech blog TechCrunch relocated from Palo Alto to
Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane says the building's location—a block from the Caltrain
station—is a plus, and prospective hires often go from one start-up interview in 410
Townsend to another.
The downside: "That makes it awkward when someone you turned down [for a job]
ends up working in the building," says Yammer's Mr. Sacks.
San Francisco Chronicle
Software startups thrive in SoMa
Tom Abate, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, May 1, 2010
In San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, Internet-based software startups are thriving
despite the worst downturn to hit California since the Great Depression.
"The economy in many ways has been a perfect storm for us rather than against us," said Charlie
Graham, founder of Shop-ItToMe.com, which alerts consumers to sales on desired items -
capitalizing on the trend of recession-induced frugality.
Graham's 15-person firm is the newest tenant at 410 Townsend St., a building that houses other
Web-based startups including Eventbrite.com. The 50-person staff of Eventbrite helps live-
performance venues - anything from school plays to corporate seminars - sell tickets online.
"We're all entrepreneurs in the same boat," said Eventbrite CEO Kevin Hartz, 40. "We share and
contribute to each other's companies."
The ferment in this SoMa building is a microcosm of a larger dynamic that gives San Francisco a
chance to lead in one of technology's most bullish sectors - the sale of software as a service.
Software once was distributed on disks, but the growth of the Internet has spawned a universe
"It's like the phone book," Ulevitch said of DNS.
Most people and companies get DNS service from the same vendor that provides their Internet
connection but, just as with e-mail, Ulevitch said this addressing function can be delegated to a
speciality firm like OpenDNS.com that offers additional services. He said the company built its
business by allowing parents to selectively block children from visiting undesirable Web sites.
"We have 20 million consumer customers," he said. "We've been profitable since 2007."
Ulevitch recently moved his 25-person firm into SoMa from an office in the Financial District
partly because his neighbors were simpatico - young people who dressed casually and worked
startup hours in contrast with the Financial District's suits and 9-to-5 routine.
"There is a vibe of people here working hard and working late," said Ulevitch, who says his goal
is grow prudently rather than hire willy-nilly and have to pull back later.
Other SoMa startups profess the same discipline, hoping not to repeat the excesses of the dot-
com era. Graham, ShopItToMe's 35-year-old founder, said he and two collaborators
bootstrapped the company until it became profitable, and only then sought angel and venture
Hartz said San Francisco has shortcomings as a business destination.
"It's hard to get our daughter into preschool. The word is you had to apply in utero," he
quipped, voicing what is likely a common concern given the industry's youthful workforce.
But he also thinks San Francisco's creativity may attract more software development despite its
taxes and other costs.
"It was always like Palo Alto and south was the place to be but now there's been this shift up to
the city," Hartz said.
of applications that can be hosted on centralized computers and sold on a fee-for-service basis.
Hartz cited Salesforce.com - which develops business applications - and the online game
developer Zynga as two San Francisco-based software-as-a-service companies that prove the
city can rival Peninsula and South Bay locales as headquarters for large tech firms.
S.F. specialist hub
"San Francisco is where everything happens in this regard; this is where you have all the good
talent and the actual experience," said Mikkel Svane, chief executive of Zendesk.com, a
customer service operation that he co-founded in Copenhagen in 2007.
Svane said Zendesk had 10 people when he relocated to SoMa in September.
"We are now 40 and will be 70 by the end of the year," he said.
Svane, 39, said San Francisco has a pool of software engineers skilled in Web development
environments like Java, PHP and Ruby on Rails - although companies like his are starting to hire
aggressively enough to begin complaining about shortages in these fields.
'City of misfits'
The city is also replete with specialists in marketing, social media, customer service and design
- skills essential to attracting and serving user communities. Within San Francisco, SoMa has
the advantage of being close to Caltrain, a plus for attracting techies from the Peninsula while
remaining accessible to potential East Bay hires.
David Ulevitch who came to San Francisco in 2004 after graduating Washington University in
Saint Louis, is another example of the entrepreneurial influx that is turning SoMa into a
"I always knew I was going to live in San Francisco," said Ulevitch, 28. "I always saw it as a city of
misfits where I thought I could fit in."
In 2005 Ulevitch raised $2.5 million to found OpenDNS.com, a company focused on a niche that
couldn't have existed until the Web became a mass medium.
DNS is short for domain name system, the addressing function of the Internet. Users most
commonly experience DNS as the rectangular field atop their browser software where they type
in the address of the location they want to visit. The underlying network system locates the
desired Internet resource and delivers the requested information.
Travel mag AFAR takes short trek to new office
Premium content from San Francisco Business Times by J.K. Dineen and Blanca Torres
Date: Sunday, May 9, 2010, 9:00pm PDT - Last Modified: Thursday, May 6, 2010, 12:01pm
The glossy new travel magazine AFAR looked far and wide for a new office. And found one
at 394 Pacific Ave. — around the corner from its current office.
AFAR Media, which has been sharing space with Dwell Magazine at 40 Gold St., has leased
a full floor in the building, which is owned by PMI Properties, according to Chris
Economou of PMI. The magazine promotes “experiential” travel — “immersive cultural
experiences based on connection and understanding,” according to the company’s web
In addition, PMI has leased a full floor in the building to web site-building-company Yola.
The two leases together add up to 17,780 square feet. The building is now 100 percent
leased. Mike McCarthy and Mike Monroe of Colliers International represent the landlord
in the deals. Yola was represented by Charlie Jackson of Jones Lang LaSalle. Tony Zucker of
Jones Lang LaSalle represented AFAR.
PMI Properties' S.F. acquisitions on a roll
May 13, 2007
Premium content from San Francisco Business Times by J.K. Dineen
Los Angeles-based PMI Properties has added to its San Francisco portfolio, grabbing 539
Bryant St. for $14.9 million.
The deal is the latest in a string of bets PMI has placed on buildings perfectly placed to
capitalize on the city's Web 2.0-fueled recovery. With 55,000 square feet and ample parking,
the Bryant Street property brought in $271 a square foot. Chris Economou and Mark Mason
of Marcus & Millichap represented both the buyer and the seller.
In the past six months, PMI has acquired 410 Townsend St. and 394 Pacific St. and is close to
grabbing another SoMa property.
"They look for recovering markets and their core is Los Angeles and San Francisco," said
Economou. "They do creative office very well."
WR Hambrecht has its headquarters in 20,500 square feet on the ground floor of the building,
but its lease expires at the end of 2007. Other tenants include Handheld Entertainment, Tech
Mayor Lee Celebrates Official Opening of Opower’s New San Francisco Office with
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at PMI Building – 642 Harrison Street
Company's Growth Continues in California
San Francisco, Calif. – May 22, 2012
Opower, the leader in energy information software for the utility industry, hosted a special
event today with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Mayor Lee was on hand to join Opower’s
President and Co-Founder Alex Laskey and Steve Malnight, PG&E’s Vice President of Customer
Energy Solutions, to celebrate the official opening of Opower’s new San Francisco office. The
event included a ribbon cutting ceremony, reception and walking tour of the company’s new
state-of-the-art office space.
"I'm excited to be here today to celebrate the opening of Opower's San Francisco office," said
San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. "Opower is an example of an innovative clean tech company,
which is creating new green jobs for our residents. San Francisco is the ‘Innovation Capital of the
World,’ and best exemplifies the intersection of clean tech, social media and sustainability."
"We’re thrilled to welcome another forward-thinking company creating clean tech jobs in San
Francisco and are proud to have them as a customer,” said Steve Malnight, Vice President of
Customer Energy Solutions with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. "We work with Opower every
day to help our customers become more energy efficient, to help them save money, all while
helping achieve California's goals of a cleaner, more sustainable energy system."
“Opower is delighted to be joined by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and PG&E’s Steve Malnight to
commemorate the opening of our new office space in San Francisco,” said Alex Laskey, President
and Co-founder of Opower. “We are delighted to join the ranks of other clean tech companies
that have come to this city in pursuit of its world-class talent and political leadership– and our
California-based team continues to grow and flourish. We are also very proud of our record of
success working with PG&E and other leading utility companies to help Californians take control
of their energy usage and become more efficient in the process. Together, we are delivering
meaningful savings for the people of San Francisco and all across the State – helping to reduce
wasted energy in their homes, lowering their carbon footprint – and saving them money in the
Over the past year, Opower has expanded their business domestically and internationally; they
now partner with more than 70 utilities in 25 states and in four countries. In California, Opower
partners with a number of utilities throughout the state, including Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E),
City of Palo Alto Utilities and Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD); a full list can be
found online here. The company has doubled its team to more than 250 employees – 55 of
whom are based in the company’s rapidly growing San Francisco office.
The company has also announced two major partnerships that will help enhance and expand
the company’s scale and services in new and existing markets. Last month, the company
officially launched the Opower social energy application, a new joint effort with Facebook and
the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to use the power of social networking to raise
consumer awareness about energy consumption. Opower is also working with global control
technology giant Honeywell to launch a Web and smart phone connected programmable
thermostat to help households better control their energy usage and save money.
Since its founding in 2007, Opower has driven more than one terawatt hour of energy savings –
more than enough energy to take a city of 200,000 residents “off-the-grid” for a year. The
company has cumulatively saved consumers in the U.S. more than $100 million on their energy
bills, and helped to abate roughly 1.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Google Buys PMI Tenant Contextual Rich Startup Apture To Beef Up Chrome
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Google has acquiredApture, a startup that brings instantaneous search to content on
the web, we’ve confirmed with both companies. Financial terms of the deal were not
disclosed. Launched in 2008, Apture has raised $4.6 million from Beau Vrolyk, Paul
Maritz, Steve Taylor, Clearstone Venture Partners
Harris and Can Sar, Apture developes ‘Apture Highlights,’ a browser extension that
aims to plug the “search leak” that the company says is taking place with content on
the web. Apture highlights a search leak as when a users is reading content, wants
more information about a keyword or phrase and then opens another browser tab to
search for the information on Google, Bing or Yahoo. The downside for the content
publisher is that the user disengages with the actual content by leaving the page.
Apture Highlights allows you to highlight any word or phrase on a page and instantly
bring up search results in a window. The startup brings results from 60-plus sources
including YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, Google and more for extra context around
content. The browser add-on is available for Chrome, Firefox and Apple’s Safari
browsers. In fact, more than a billion pages a month are enhanced with Apture, says
Apture’s business model also offered publishers a white-label version of Apture
Highlights, which is being used by Scribd, The Financial Times, Reuters,
Economist.com, ScientificAmerican, BleacherReport.com, and Times of India.
based overlay that acts like a minitiature browser that enables readers to find and
explore related multimedia content without leaving the original page.
The virtue of using the technology for publishers is that content sites are increasing
their search volume and site page views by driving traffic to related articles for every
search. Consumers actually stay on a publisher page with Apture two to three times
longer than without the plug-in.
The company also recently launched HotSpots, which allows Apture to populate
hyperlinks on the fly on any page on the web. Publishers have to add one line of code
and hyperlinks will appear for readers without publishers having to link. The links
point to Apture overlays which give a range of data to a reader without them having to
leave the page: Wikipedia, CrunchBase, search results, maps, etc.
In an interview today, Harris explained that when he started the company back in
2007, he felt that there was an incredible opportunity within the medium of the web
to find contextual information to help you understand what you are looking at on a
webpage. Harris wanted Apture to become part of the ‘fabric of the web’.
But in the past few years, Harris says that he realizes that the browseritself is part of
the medium that will shape how information is really accessible. “You can’t talk about making
information accessible without talking about the web browser,” he explains.
With that thought in mind, when Google approached Harris and the company over the past
few months with an acquisition offer, the integration made sense. Combined with google’s
own mission of making information accesible, “the Chrome platform has 200 active million
users a month and that’s a huge scale that Apture’s technology could reach,” says Harris.
Google says of the acquisition, “We were impressed by the Apture team’s approach to
enhancing the web browser experience, and we think their expertise will complement the
Chrome team’s efforts in this area.”
The Apture team, which is composed of ten employees, will be joining the Google Chrome
team improve user experience. Google says that Apture’s plug-ins and white-label technology
will be shut down within next month or so.
Harris says, “We’re bringing all things we’ve been doing and a lot more to the Chrome team.
With the growth of Chrome as a browser, it’s clear why this acquisition make so much sense,
and who else would you want to partner with to the change-up fabric of the internet? We’re
going to make browsing much more than it’s ever been and it’s really exciting.”