Represent LA: Geographical Breakdown of Startups in Los Angeles

Represent LA is a website that maps the location of new tech start ups and investors in Los Angeles.  The map is useful because it allows people to browse according to location, investors, or company name.  With Represent LA, it’s easy to see which areas have the highest and lowest numbers of startups, which could be a factor for a new startup in their search for leasing creative space.  The creators of the website also promote a sense of community and support by offering up the ability for companies who do not see their business on the map to submit their information to be added.

The geographical breakdown of startups within Los Angeles can be determined by exploring the Represent LA map.  Currently, downtown Santa Monica and Venice have the highest concentration of start ups, followed by the area east of downtown Santa Monica.  Surprisingly, Santa Monica airport area has many startups while Playa Vista does not.

Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Culver City, El Segundo, Pasadena, Tri-Cities, and the greater South Bay have moderate levels of start ups.  San Fernando Valley, Century City, Westwood, and the Beverly Hills area contain low levels of startups.  The fewest startups, however, are located in Malibu, South Los Angeles, Mid-City, East Los Angeles, and the San Gabriel Valley.

It seems that Silicon Beach is continuing to grow as an area that start ups are drawn to, which is consistent with the articles we have shared about in past.  Conversely, Pasadena’s start up activity seems to be on the decline.  Represent LA’s map is a great way to find start ups, coworking space, investors, or consulting firms in Los Angeles and will hopefully be another resource tech start ups will be able to efficiently use.

RidePal: An Alternative for LA Commuters

The latest article from TechCrunch introduced RidePal, a company that recently received $500K from 500 startups.  RidePal is part of the collaborative consumption movement that originates out of social networking in the Bay Area. Referred to as a “Google Shuttle for the rest of us,” RidePal is an innovative idea that should also be brought to Los Angeles.  It has the potential to alleviate the parking conundrum and terrible commutes that plague Los Angelenos.  The service allows companies, employers, and building owners to share the cost of shuttle services to transport employees to and from work.

Image courtesy of RidePal’s website

RidePal is a system that offers shared commuting buses equipped with Wi-Fi as well as a ticketing, reservation, and management platform.  It currently uses a total of 15 routes that link San Francisco with the east bay, south bay, and peninsula.  RidePal partners with several bus companies and builds new routes based on the demands and needs of companies and their employees.  The shuttle program has been especially attractive for growing companies that are looking to expand their workforce because it is easier to retain and recruit employees from outside the area.

Not only is RidePal an eco-friendly method of transportation, but it also benefits both companies and employees.  Businesses that choose to bring this service to their employees don’t need to pay for the entire bus, but only pay for the capacity they need, which allows them to save costs.  For employees, RidePal offers the opportunity to spend their normal commuting hours surfing the Web, completing work, or just enjoying newly freed up time that was spent driving before.

If RidePal was brought to Los Angeles, Culver City, for example, could finally put to use their underutilized city and privately owned parking lots.  The shuttle bus would provide transportation at these parking lots as well as to the Expo stations.  It would only take one major employer without sufficient on-site parking and the Expo to begin this service to offsite parking lots and the Expo. The cost could be shared with other employers who want to also use a shuttle service for this purpose.

After San Francisco, RidePal aims to eventually bring their service to other top urban clusters.  Hopefully the program’s success in Northern California will influence companies in Los Angeles to take a second look into similar ride-sharing programs for their employees.

Culver City Evolves from Quiet Community to Urban Area; Gains a ‘Media for the Web’ Cluster

Maker Studios, a company that produces media content for the web, just signed a 50,000 square foot lease at 3562 Eastham Drive in Culver City.  Maker Studios joins other recent media-for-the web content companies in the Hayden Tract.  Several companies include Four Wall Studios, Mahalo, and Popsugar.  The cluster of these firms gives rise to a small community that could encourage other firms in this emerging industry to also seek office space in Culver City.

The success of these firms would also help create a new source of demand for Culver City creative space.  These media-for-the web firms join other creative office companies in Culver City that include digital advertising, entertainment, old media, and software firms.  A recent article from the Los Angeles Times discusses the success of Culver City and its challenges.  The addition of 1100 parking spaces at the Washington and La Cienega Expo stations helped convince these firms to locate in Culver City.  As some tech companies scale to 10 employees per 1000 square feet, the Expo line may provide one of the few ways for firms to help provide an alternative to parking to accommodate such density.

Culver City has transformed into one of main areas on the Westside that many tech and media tenants have been drawn to for creative office space.  In the second quarter of 2012, Culver City  had a net absorption of 16,000 square feet, with the asking rates for Class A and Class B space remaining constant from the first and second quarters of 2012.

Video Content Companies Make their Mark in West Los Angeles

Los Angeles is behind such cities as New York, Boston, and San Francisco in digital technology. However, in the niche market of video content for the web, Los Angeles may be number one.  Los Angeles is flexing its content muscle to spawn startups involved in original content made for the web.  This movement is as old as the dot-com boom itself.  Since high-definition web video is so inexpensive to create, there is a renewed interest in producing new and innovative original programming for the web.  YouTube started adding over 100 new channels with all original content creators in 2011.  Netflix launched an original show on its platform in February of 2012, with plans to add more programming in 2013.  Hulu.com announced it will also start creating original programming for its users.  Many users of both sites have expressed their excitement and support of this creative action.

Web content companies are forming in different pockets all around Westside Los Angeles and Hollywood. Another prominent area where web content companies are clustering is around the Hayden Tract in Culver City.  PMI recently leased 13,000 square feet to Mahalo.com and 15,000 square feet to Sugar Publishing Inc.  Mahalo.com is a video and web company specializing in instructional content.  Recently, Mahalo started producing instructional applications for the iPad.  Sugar Publishing, Inc. is the parent company of the popular video site Popsugar.  Maker Studios, a YouTube content company, recently leased 18,000 square feet a few blocks away from Mahalo and Sugar at 5877 Rodeo.  According to this article from The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Four Wall Studios leased space at Conjuctive Point, adjacent to Mahalo and Sugar Publishing, and is allegedly building a $20 million studio in Culver City.

YouTube also recently leased 30,000 square feet for a studio in Playa Vista.  One of our previous tenants, Machinima.com, occupies 30,000 square feet in Hollywood.  They started with 150 square feet in one of our creative executive suites at 10951 Pico Boulevard in 2007.  They are now the most watched channel on YouTube.

Due to the fact there is so much interest in creative office space on the Westside, and especially in Culver City, now is the perfect time for solutions to be developed and executed in regards to the demand for parking.  Culver City must work to help supply the parking these incoming companies require.  Tenants are starting to make parking a large priority before they lease office space.  A broker representing one 50,000 square foot tenant recently called PMI’s offices to ask advice on how to handle their parking needs if they leased space in the Hayden Tract.  Culver City expressed a desire to ameliorate the parking situation and has already made some commitments to facilitate this resource.  In addition, improving the lunch time amenities for the increasing workforce would also be beneficial.

Some large content firms are rumored to be sniffing around Culver City for creative space.  We can’t say at this time if any or all of these firms will be successful in the long run.  PMI has had their share of tenant failures and successes in the past.  We are privileged to share that some of our previous tenant successes have included Twitter, Yammer, Eventbrite, Stylespot, and Applied Semantics.  Despite the challenges PMI has faced in its leasing history, we feel that leasing space to any growing technology company is worth the risk in this economy.

Media Company Sugar Publishing, Inc. Leases 15,300 Square Feet in Culver City

Sugar Publishing, Inc., a privately owned media company that produces a network of blogs and ecommerce sites for women, leased 15,300 square feet at 3525 Eastham Avenue in Culver City’s Hayden Tract this month.  Sugar follows Mahalo Inc., another digital media company, who leased 13,300 square feet in November at the same property and also left Santa Monica in search of more affordable creative offices.

Culver City has become one of the best Westside alternatives to Santa Monica for creative space at significantly lower rents.  The area is now a hotbed for entertainment and media companies due to its prime location on the Westside, its new restaurant and art scene, and its plentiful supply of converted warehouses. With 3525 Eastham being positioned well in the Hayden Tract, PMI designed the building with creative companies in mind.  According to Jeffrey Palmer of PMI, “PMI originally designed 3525 Eastham for software and web based companies that need high density while maintaining a creative environment; although the design works very well for entertainment companies as well.”  The 24 foot soaring bow-truss ceiling, multiple oversized glass roll-up doors and numerous skylights help create a sense of spaciousness even with very high employee counts.  The City of Culver City is very interested in attracting digital media firms to the area.  It recently committed to purchase 180 parking space privileges in a parking structure to be built by a local developer.  Culver City has invested in parking and transportation infrastructure (including new redevelopments at the nearby Expo light rail station at Washington and National) to help entice these new digital technology companies to Culver City.  In addition, a new Hayden Tract Owners Association has formed to build 120 additional parking spaces on a former Cal Tran easement and to promote other improvements to the Hayden Tract.

Sugar Publishing has expanded from their San Francisco & New York locations to begin their tenure in Los Angeles.  Sugar prides itself in providing their 20 million global unique users insanely addictive content, unmatched shopping experiences and a robust social community.  The company has two business segments focusing on original content and commerce with a portfolio of brands including PopSugar, FabSugar, BellaSugar, FitSugar, GeekSugar, PetSugar, and PopSugar Retail Therapy.  Cementing their spot as a media force to be reckoned with, in May 2010, Sugar was named among the Hottest Companies in San Francisco. Sugar’s employees are extremely passionate about the brand, which shows in the amount and quality of content they produce on their numerous sites.

Brian Sugar currently serves as the company’s CEO and Publisher, while Lisa Sugar is the company’s Editor-in-Chief.  According to their website, the story behind the creation of Sugar, Inc. came from a comment at Oscars party Brian and Lisa Sugar threw at their home in February of 2005.  In 2006, they received Series A Funding from Sequoia Capital and have been expanding ever since.

During the pre-leasing process, PMI Properties was represented by David Wilson of Lee & Associates and Sugar Publishing, Inc. was represented by Matt Brainard of Studley, Inc.

Culver City Moves Aggressively to Attract Creative Office Firms with Innovative Redevelopment

Culver City is doing many things to make the city attractive to new businesses that would occupy creative offices.  The city is working with the Hayden Tract Property Owners Association to create 120 new parking spaces on the rail spur in the Hayden Tract.  These parking spaces will be just west of Stellar between Eastham and Hayden Avenue.  Recently, the city boldly moved at the end of January to pass three redevelopment properties that could benefit creative office tenants in the Hayden Tract.  For example,  Culver City committed to spend $5 million dollars to purchase 180 parking rights for public use in a new parking garage.  This garage is slated to be built on Higuera and Hayden by Hackman Properties. This garage will supplement a new 500 car garage at La Cienega and Jefferson recently completed by Cal Tran in conjunction with the opening of the Expo light rail later this year.  In addition, new street parking along National Boulevard between Washington and Jefferson has been added.  The Syd Krononthal Park at Eastham and National has received a new signal and a cross walk leading to it.  Not only will Culver City have an elevated Expo light rail station at La Cienega and Jefferson, but it will also have a similar station at Washington and Venice.  A new bike line and walking path will span the entire length of the light rail line.

Culver City is expected to build a pedestrian plaza and make landscape improvements around the station.  A temporary 600 car parking lot will be provided on the city’s land near the station as well.  The City also approved in late January an agreement with Lowe Development to sell this land parcel next to the Culver City light rail station so Lowe can build a development.  This future development area will have a mix of housing, office, retail and restaurant use.  These developments will be surrounding a large central open space amenity that will connect seamlessly with the new station.  In addition, the development will include 1,500 parking spaces, some of which will be for monthly rental to Hayden Tract owners and companies.

Close by, at Culver and Washington (9300 Washington), Culver City at the end of January committed to sell Hudson Realty and Combined Properties’ land to build a mixed use project. The proposed project includes ground-level retail, a four-story office building, and a grand stairway that leads pedestrians up to a restaurant pavilion.  There will also be a landscaped elevated plaza perched above the existing Town Square. The City in late January committed to sell land to build a new state of the art jazz club that will be operated by the Jazz Bakery.

The City has aggressively been courting new creative companies to locate in Culver City.  Unlike other Westside cities in Los Angeles, Culver City has displayed the ability to meet with companies and offer expedited permitting for their improvement.

Creative office  tenants appreciate Culver City for it’s rich urban experience. Culver City attracts young, knowledgeable workers due to the mix of chic restaurants, vibrant bar scene, new art district, the close proximity to affordable apartments, and easy access to Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown Los Angeles.  Playa Vista, a competitve location for creative companies, lacks this rich urban experience.  In 2000, Culver City became a magnet for entertainment and internet companies fleeing the high rents of Santa Monica.  Culver City had a plentiful supply of architecturally attractive industrial buildings preferred by the creative types.  At the current time, however, Culver City is addressing the insufficient parking problem that many of these buildings have.

Culver City has a rich history of bold moves in redevelopment. It invested heavily in infrastructure and parking in its downtown district.  Culver City went so far as to build and own a multiplex theatre and Trader Joe’s in early 2000.  The current new developments come as no surprise from a city that is always in the forefront of innovation. Culver City has done an amazing job creating and executing the many improvements that will make it one of the prime locations to live, work, and play.