Uber's real estate footprint unmatched among S.F. Bay Area startups

Tue Mar 1, 2016 1:28pm EST
 
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By Heather Somerville

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Uber's [UBER.UL] new Oakland headquarters is nearly 70 percent bigger than Internet radio service Pandora Media's P.N office nearby and will house about five times the number of employees that ride-hailing competitor Lyft has at its headquarters.

The on-demand ride service paid $123.5 million for Oakland's historic Sears building last year and so far has filed building permits to complete at least $2 million in renovations, according to BuildZoom, a startup that compiles construction and remodeling contractor data for homeowners.

Across the bay in San Francisco, Uber has so far initiated $130 million in construction on a bigger office in the Mission Bay neighborhood, BuildZoom's data shows.

The new building permit data from BuildZoom, provided exclusively to Reuters, underscores the mammoth growth in Uber's real estate footprint and associated costs, overshadowing most other tech startups in San Francisco and Oakland.

Remodeling on the old Sears building will take another year, and the Mission Bay campus is still two or three years out, so construction costs will rise. Uber said it was also repairing damage on the Oakland building caused by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Uber is the most highly valued venture-backed tech firm and has raised more than $7.4 billion from investors, a war chest that can help fund real estate purchases.

But its costly expansion in Oakland and San Francisco comes as the venture capital investing climate cools, with more investors wary that highly valued startups may not grow into their stratospheric valuation.

The iconic Oakland building, which opened in 1929 as a department store, will house between 2,000 and 3,000 Uber employees across 380,000 square feet (35,303 sq. m.).   Continued...

 
The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Sergio Perez