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.
The blogging site Tumblr has signed an expansion and renewal deal for its offices at 35 East 21st Street.
The company will take about 21,000 square feet in the roughly 100,000-square-foot building, doubling in size there in a lease that stretches about four years.
Tumblr is a well known brand on the web, offering a popular platform for short form blogging and picture sharing. The company has been based out of 35 East 21st Street since nearly its inception and has grown in steady increments in recent years.
Matthew Bergey is a vice president at CBRE who has developed a specialty handling deals with tenants in creative industries and the technology sector. He represents several high-profile tenants in the city, including Tumblr, and is also the agent for a number of office properties, including the high-end boutique buildings 414 West 14th Street and 450 West 14th Street in the booming meatpacking district. He joins The Commercial Observer for this week’s Sit-Down, where he talks about how his love of contemporary art helps him secure tech clients.
Ebay is in advanced negotiations to take about 36,000 square feet at 625 Avenue of the Americas, sources have revealed to The Commercial Observer.
Lease of the Week
Right from the gate, the Invesco Real Estate-Kaufman Organization partnership behind 100-104 Fifth Avenue followed a simple motto: Go big on tech or go home.
Since acquiring the building in January 2011, the Kaufman Organization has leased 100,000 square feet to new tech tenants, including 45,000 square feet to Apple’s iAd mobile advertising unit.
“We’ve been on a tear,” said Grant Greenspan, a principal at the Kaufman Organization.