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A new generation of companies is moving on up in San Francisco

Up-and comers are taking over prime office space as a cycle begins anew; “I sold rugs for 17 years, so I have some skills in negotiation”

Connie Loizos

@cookie / 11:50 AM GMT+6:30•November 2, 2023


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Image Credits: Flad Architects(opens in a new window)

Ten years ago, Pear VC, then a tiny new venture firm, operated out of a nondescript office in Palo Alto that was enlivened by bright, computer-themed art. Last week, the outfit – which closed its largest fund to date in May – quietly inked a deal to sublease 30,000 square feet of “Class A” office space in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood from the file-storage giant Dropbox.


It’s among a number of fast-growing outfits taking up more space in San Francisco as an earlier generation of companies shrinks its physical footprint.


As the San Francisco Chronicle first reported last week, ChatGPT creator OpenAI also just subleased two buildings totaling a collective 486,600 of square feet from Uber. The ride-share giant, which originally leased a grouping of four buildings down the street from Dropbox and will continue to occupy two of these, told the paper it is “right-sizing.”


Meanwhile, a rival to OpenAI – Anthropic – also just reportedly closed a sizable subleasing deal. Its plan: to take over the entire 250,000-square-foot building in downtown San Francisco that was previously Slack’s headquarters.


Salesforce, which acquired Slack in 2021, is an investor in Anthropic. Meanwhile, Pear VC co-founder Pejman Nozad wrote one of the first small checks to Dropbox when he was still relatively new to the U.S. from Iran and selling Persian rugs to Silicon Valley bigwigs. Such subleases don’t necessarily begin with hand-shake deals, however. Asked if Nozad zeroed in on Pear’s new space owing to his connection to Dropbox, he scoffs. The office — which has room for more than 200 desks, features more than 20 conference and call rooms, and has dedicated events space to host talks — “was a business deal for them,” says Nozad. “The founders were not involved. As you know, I sold rugs for 17 years, so I have some skills in negotiation,” he adds with a laugh.