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.

From the Dark Days in SoMa to a Bright, Booming Future

In 2003, after the dot-com bust, PMI sensed an amazing purchasing opportunity in San Francisco. The area south of Market, known as SoMa, had vacancies reaching upwards of 40%, leasing brokers  began describing the area as “toxic.” SoMa looked like a promising area to recreate the magic acquisitions PMI assumed in the Los Angeles Westside during the mid-90s property grab.

By 2003, entertainment, advertising, and media companies on the Westside of Los Angeles had helped the area stage a rapid comeback from the tech crash. Late in 2003, PMI sold a 75,000 square foot Santa Monica creative office property to a Texas-based realty pension adviser. It was the first time an institutional buyer purchased a Westside creative office building. Soon after, the buying frenzy started and creative offices were being bought and sold at record prices. Comparatively, in SoMa during 2003 and 2004, only residential converters were buying creative office buildings and for under $125 per square foot.

PMI targeted San Francisco as a prime place to purchase creative office buildings for several reasons:

  1. The city has an incredibly large workforce of highly educated individuals.
  2. The city has one of the greatest concentrations of software engineers in the world.
  3. Two of the top universities in the country are located in the area.
  4. The city is dominant in venture capitalism.
  5. We took into account Richard Florida’s “Creative Class,” in which he argues that the world’s power and wealth will be concentrated in super regions of knowledge workers. We agreed with his theory and believed San Francisco  fit the paradigm perfectly.
  6. We considered the study of the history of innovation, which shows that the discovery of disruptive technology tends to end in a bursting of bubbles and is followed by an even greater and more mature expansion of the technology (a cycle that can happen many times).

While San Francisco seemed a great arbitrage, we were too frightened to buy anything in 2003. It wasn’t until late 2005 that we bought our first property, with the tenants and cash flow in place at the time. The deals were not as good as buying empty buildings, but they were a lot better than the creative office deals on the Los Angeles Westside. Rents climbed from $22 modified gross per square foot in 2005 to $36 modified gross per square foot in 2007and then collapsed below $22 modified gross per square foot in 2009.

With rents at an all time low and a building half vacant, we went on a search for the best start-up companies we could find and made them deals they could not refuse. Our first two takers were Eventbrite and Yammer. In another building, we leased a space to a startup called Twitter.

As described in this article from the San Francisco Business Times, things got much better in San Francisco. Rents are now well over $40 modified gross per square foot. The arbitrage between San Francisco and the Los Angeles Westside is no more. REITs and institutional investors dominate the business now.

“My warning,” says Jeffrey Palmer of PMI Properties, “is that this is a very volatile business. At some point in the cycle–both on the rise and fall, what you are experiencing may be volatility.”

Designing Offices for Digital Technology Companies

We rent office space on the Westside of Los Angeles and in San Francisco to digital technology companies.  Our tenants include or have included Twitter, Google, DoubleClick, Yammer, Scribd, Applied Semantics, Microsoft, and Eventbrite.  Much has changed from the dot-com days.  Today, the three factors that are important for the design of these spaces are creative environments, densification, and collaboration.  Spaces are open to allow for the ability to scale to densities of up to 10 people per 1000 square feet.  Although the company may start out at 4 people per 1000 square feet, the ability to scale within the space will enable to firm to expand without taking on additional space and without moving.  To allow this densification, the space should have good light, open areas, and a lot of power and outlets.  Higher ceiling volumes with open structural elements help reduce the feeling of being cramped into a tight area.  Although liner table arrangements are the most efficient, undulating plans have also worked and reduce monotony.

Diagram from the dot-com days.

Creatively remodeled office space.

In the dot-com days, designers used circular and angle offices to create visual interest.  Today, these designs reduce the efficiency of the floor plan.  Designers now use the natural beauty of the physical structure, colors, textures, and lighting to create visual interest.

Large, high partition work stations have given way to interconnected non-partitioned tables where groups of designers sit together in close proximity.  Email, texts, and social networking have replaced audio phone use and hence eliminated the need for partitions.  Enclosed spaces are used primarily for conferences, group meetings, and other collaborations.  These enclosed meeting spaces average about 1 per 1000 square feet.

Yammer Collarboration Area at PMI's 410 Townsend in San Francisco.

Collaboration spaces have become more important in offices today.  People are used to collaborating in cafés; now designers are incorporating the “café look” into the office design.  Today workers come from the Starbucks generation where coffee houses are iconic symbols of collaborative settings.

Kitchens have expanded into highly designed café settings in very visible locations.

Kitchen at PMI's 3525 Eastham in Culver City.

Kitchen at TechCrunch at PMI's 410 Townsend in San Francisco.

This is a refreshing contrast to the kitchens of the past, relegated to a hidden enclosed corner with vinyl floors and fluorescent lights.  Several companies, some as small as 40 people, have dining areas that can fit much of the company’s employees.  They also require company lunches several times a month or even a couple times a week.  Other examples of collaborative settings could involve a game room or juice lounge.   Instead of just one kitchen, there may even be multiple areas with sinks, refrigerators, and snacks.  This gives a modern spin to the popular water cooler meeting spot that all offices seem to share.

All in all, there are many designs and combinations that can be created for all the different types of tenants we house.  For PMI, we strive to meet all of our tenant’s requests and see to it that creativity continues to flourish among our properties and tenants.  Scroll down to see more examples of the creative space we have produced for our outstanding tenants!

Kitchen at Mitch Kapor's offices at 543 Howard in San Francisco.

Mahalo's Kitchen at PMI's 3523 Eastham in Culver City.

Eventbrite's former space at PMI's 410 Townsend in San Francisco.

Afar Media at PMI's 394 Pacific in San Francisco.

Past and Present PMI Tenants– Join the Ranks of the Best

Ever since it’s inception, PMI Properties has been home to many up and coming creative companies.  From video games and film to advertising and software designers, we’ve had the pleasure of housing all types of creative companies.   A social networking company exploded into society’s consciousness from our offices. They now have over 300 million users and changed the way we communicate in 140 characters or less online.  They also reinvented the meaning to the word, “tweet.”  That company is none other than Twitter.  Applied Semantics, producer of software applications for the online advertising, domain name, and enterprise information management markets, invented AdSense in a PMI Property office space.  AdSense has since been acquired by Google, and is now responsible for over 25% of their revenue.

It’s been said that our Properties Motivate Innovation.

A few more you may have heard of include Columbia Pictures, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight, HBO Entertainment, Google, Wes Craven, Summit Entertainment, Sony Electronics and Ubisoft.

To gain a larger sense of our scope and variety of amazing tenants, check out our complete list of past and present PMI tenants below.

Entertainment

  • Bruce Lee Enterprises
  • Concrete Pictures
  • Franklin and Waterman (Film)
  • Imperial Entertainment
  • Infinite Monkey Entertainment
  • Nalin (Film)
  • Public Interest Films (Film Production)
  • Sony Pictures
  • Strand Releasing (Movie Distribution)
  • Trimark Films (Film/Merged with Lionsgate)
  • David Koz (Musician)
  • Domo Records (Music Publishing)
  • John Erhlich (Music Editing)
  • Music Choice (Internet Music)
  • Rick Knowles (Music Production)
  • Tonos (Music Website/Carol Bayer Sager)
  • Varese Sarabande (Music Publishing)
  • Vibe (Music Publishing)
  • Fox Entertainment
  • Gurin Company (Television Production)
  • Millionaires Club (Television)
  • Mixed Signals (Interactive Television)
  • Termite Art (Television Production)

Production 

  • Tangerine Entertainment (Commercial Production)
  • Halon Entertainment (Pre Production)
  • Animal Logic (Post Production)
  • At The Post (Post Production)
  • Goodspot (Post Production)
  • Jack Fx (Post Production)
  • King and Country (Post Production)
  • Liquid (Post Production)
  • Moxie Pictures (Post Production)
  • Propeller (Post Production)
  • Radium (Post Production)
  • Rex Edit (Post Production)
  • Safehouse (Post Production)
  • Sol Design (Post Production)
  • Superior Assembly (Post Production)
  • On Line Off Line (Video Production)

Software

  • Applied Semantics
  • Apture (Web Software)
  • Codehost (Software)
  • Coding Technologies (Software)
  • Double Click (Web Advertising Software)
  • Epoch-Paycom (Digital Payment Web Software)
  • Guardian Edge (Web Software)
  • Ingrooves (Web Music Software)
  • Insync (Web Music Software)
  • IOTA (Web Music Software)
  • Jaspersoft (Software)
  • Limelight (Software)
  • Opendns (Software)
  • Outlook
  • Playdom (Software)
  • Radar (Web Software)
  • Retix (Software)
  • Supersig (Web Software)
  • The Brain (Software)
  • Xobni (Web Software)
  • Yammer (Saas Collaborative Software)
  • Yola (Web Software)
  • Zendesk (Web Software)

Advertising

  • Bright Design
  • Bush Communications
  • Click Media (Digital Advertising)
  • DCA
  • Deep Focus
  • Domozog
  • Expert Communications
  • Grange Advertising
  • Ideology
  • McElroy
  • Murphy Obrien
  • Point Blank
  • PR 21
  • Rocket Studios
  • Spelling Communications
  • Woo Advertising

Video Gaming

  • Outspark
  • Playdom
  • Six Degree Games
  • Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Sulake
  • Ubisoft
  • Workshop Entertainment

Digital Marketing & Publishing

  • AZ Razorfish (Digital Marketing)
  • Carbon Five (Digital Marketing)
  • Maholo (Digital Publishing)
  • Scribd (Digital Publishing)
  • Techcrunch (Digital Publishing)
  • Threshold (Digital Marketing)

Web

  • Eventbrite (Web Ticket Sales)
  • Google (First LA Offices/AdSense)
  • Motoreyes (Website)
  • Top Tutor/Idealabs (Education Website)
  • http://www.com (Website)

Miscellaneous

  • Dunket–Shaquille O’Neal (eCommerce)
  • Savings.com (eCommerce)
  • Sony Electronics (Electronic Consumer Hardware)
  • Diamond Multimedia/Rioport (Electronic Hardware)
  • NatureEner (Green Technology)