Inside Uber's New "Polished, Yet Gritty" Man Cave
Uber might be slashing prices and squeezing their drivers while battling Lyft, but that's no excuse not to move into posh new offices in San Francisco's "it" Mid-Market neighborhood. Their new headquarters are located in the same building as Square, with Twitter as their neighbors. The Chronicle charitably describes the space as "the man cave of a tasteful bachelor."
What can you expect from a venture-funded day lair for bad boys?
In one room, dubbed the "war room," the touch of a button automatically turns clear glass walls opaque, for privacy. The room features a long "living edge" wood table made from a single tree, two huge touch-screen panels and a pair of authentic midcentury Eames lounge chairs.
The elevator bank feels a little like a nightclub. The dining room vibe is more bar than cafeteria. At many tech offices, the game room is prominent. Not so at Uber, where it is tucked into a small space near the kitchen. Overall, it's more luxe Wall Street than playful Silicon Valley.
The offices sound bathed in testosterone and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is stoked. In his walk-through with Re/code's Nellie Bowles, he couldn't help but gush over how aligned the space is with Uber's brand:
Kalanick, who wore a crisp blue suit and shining black-leather dress shoes, said it was all in the details. Perforated steel dividers broke up the open-plan space. He rubbed his hand across one.
"It's super nice, right? Polished. Like Uber Black," he said, raising his hand above his head. "And yet it has a grit to it, like Uber X," he said, dropping his hand to his hip.
Then there's the hallmark of a true Silicon Valley office: A token homage of Steve Jobs' famed management walks.
On the floor, a grid-patterned trail wrapped around the office.
"It's a path?" I asked.
"We call it the path," Kalanick said, as he strode down the quarter-mile track. "We have meetings here. If you follow the path, you will see the whole office."
The importance of office decor cannot be overstated. On Instagram, Uber employee Max Crowley spoke in reverential tones about the game-changing minimalism:
Welcome to the future... Impossible to not feel the enormity of what we're doing when walking the halls of the new @Uber HQ #letsgo
Not everyone is quite as impressed as Kalanick and Crowley. As the normally verbose Paul Carr simply put it, "Christ."