Techies from across the world flocked to San Francisco this week to take part in TechCrunch Disrupt, hoping to make an impression on tech's top brand journalists and maybe land some venture bucks. But this year's annual startup conference came with a bonus feature: tours that proselytize Silicon Valley's culture of lavishness.
These tech tourists, attendees of the annual TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference from Brazil, Australia and elsewhere in the U.S., had signed up for a bus tour of tech companies offered by Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate company that finds office space for tech companies, among other things. They had come to gawk at how the other half lives, namely the hot companies of the so-called "cradle of innovation."
One of the highlights of the tour was Heroku's office, a hosting and code-management startup that was picked up by Salesforce for $250 million. Its exposed brick walls, in-office amphitheater, and kitchen amply stocked by the company's "wellness guru" left one foreign founder "kind of in shock."
Heroku keeps two full-time "vibe managers" on staff. And the two women, described by the Chronicle as being "responsible for everything from ergonomics to selecting [...] throw pillows," fielded questions from the tourists, who hoped to learn more about San Francisco's visionary pampering tactics:
[Brazilian startup partner Rafael Lima] wanted to know how much he should be spending on culture and design — an exact percentage of his budget would be particularly helpful.
"A lot," said Lee.
He pressed for a more specific number.
"Like 50 percent?"
"A lot," she repeated.
Spending 50 percent of your budget on throw pillows and vintage "men working" signs probably sounds like a good idea when your parent company is worth over $37 billion. But that budgeting doesn't make much sense when you are scrapping by as a hustling entrepreneur.
Nevertheless, Heroku led the thunderstruck tourists to the company's roofdeck—recently renamed from "the penthouse" to "the lighthouse" so not to seem "too stuffy"—to feed the group a sick spread of craft beers and tartines.
If Heroku was hoping to prove to the world that showering employees in luxury is the only way to run a tech company, it worked:
— Kate Lanyon (@Katalisha) September 9, 2014