Late last year, when the education publishing company Scholastic offered up about 60,000 square feet of sublease space at the top of the Soho office building 568 Broadway, the firm quickly found it wouldn’t be difficult to fill.
Within weeks, a host of tenants were competing for it, including several tech firms, one of the most active sectors of the leasing market in Manhattan right now. Tumblr, foursquare and AppNexus, all well-known names in the industry, moved to the front of the pack.
On the face of it, such a decision would seem easy. Of the three, only AppNexus, a firm that specializes in online advertising and is backed by the software giant Microsoft, is known to be profitable. But in a tech boom in which riches don’t always flow from the most likely sources, the deal for the space took a different turn.
The competition soon boiled down not to AppNexus but to Tumblr and foursquare, two companies that have become top brands in the new internet boom and have raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital between them, but have yet to find income-producing platforms for their services.
Foursquare’s Soho offices are bright and open, with a large skylight in the center of the floor that allows sunshine to bathe down on a giant wooden replica of the teardrop-with-a-hole-punched-in-it logo that serves as the company’s locational icon. Look up a bar or a restaurant on Foursquare’s site and this is the tab you will see highlighting its suggestions.
Its prominence is a purposeful reminder of what the company wants to be—a location-based social network that people on the go will use to negotiate daily life—versus what initially brought it fame: a gimmicky online check-in service that has since been handily usurped by not one but two tech giants, Facebook and Twitter.
The tech world is a ruthless place, where battle happens both online and off.
Location-based social network Foursquare will say goodbye to its longtime office mates at 36 Cooper Square. The startup, which raised a $50 million round of funding this summer, has vastly outgrown the 7,600 square feet at the East Village digs it shares with Curbed and web design shop Hard Candy Shell, and is negotiating a sublease for the top two floors at 568 Broadway.