HootSuite opens new major expansion Vancouver office (PHOTOS)

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HootSuite has opened a second nest just a few blocks away from its first building in Mount Pleasant.

This comes as the social media management giant prepares to undergo another significant expansion of its workforce by adding 154 positions over the next three months. Vancouver’s flagship tech company currently employs more than 480 people in the city plus another 120 around its global offices.

The new office space at 111 East 5th Avenue takes up an entire 27,000 square foot office floor plate and acts as an expansion of its existing 33,000 square foot headquarters.

Most of the company’s finance, sales and support staff were relocated to the new space in the first week of June, although employees are permitted to work in either buildings interchangeably as part of its short-term vision to continue expanding and establish a campus within the neighbourhood. However, the ultimate goal is to establish a single nest for its Vancouver workforce.

“I’ve got some ideas on that. I’m thinking about what a campus would look like,” Ryan Holmes, CEO and founder of HootSuite, said in a Q&A with local media. “I look at this block that we’re in and I think there’s a lot of potential, so who knows what we could do out of this.”

“I think that Mount Pleasant in general is a fantastic area for startups,” Holmes said as he talked about their neighbourhood. “Startups need low-cost rent, keeping your expenses low as a starving startup is hugely important. I think there’s a lot of great office space and building space within this area and I’m pretty optimistic that this can be a great area for startups. We’re starting to see more and more people gravitate towards this area.”

The recently opened space was an empty grey canvas for HootSuite’s contracted interior designers, who spent five months renovating the office floor to turn it into one of Canada’s most innovative and flexible working spaces. Those relocated to the space were pleasantly surprised and blown away as they had assumed it would be inferior to the main building.

While “Headquarters 1” at the old City of Vancouver-owned building features a West Coast style interior, the new expansion at “Headquarters 2” is modelled after the après ski of Whistler Village: it takes on an alpine ski lodge and cabin design.

One of the biggest requests from employees when it came to the expansion was to create more private work and meeting spaces, and that’s just what HootSuite did. There are nine cabins, each named after B.C. ski hills and mountains, that form a town within the building and act as both work and meeting space for the company’s employees. This is in addition to the 10 mini-boardrooms and a big boardroom that can hold a capacity of 40 people around a table, making a total of 20 private spaces at the new location.

For those looking for open space, whiteboards are installed onto the exterior walls of each cabin to encourage the use of the walkways between each structure. “Patio seating” is also scattered around the area to provide other open space alternatives.

Real wood from birch trees form the walls throughout the entire office. Besides working within their own designated desks and team areas, there are library-like working spaces and cubicles for those who need an working environment that strengthens their concentration.

Like HQ1, there is a large picnic-style lunch room as well as beer and wine on tap on scheduled days.

HootSuite has maintained its start-up culture, even though it is now a major enterprise with a large workforce. With the help of workspace design, the company aims to keep its intimate feel as well as the closeness and unity amongst its young workforce – an average age of just 31 years old. They hold their weekly Friday night (or when the taps turn on) inter-company parties that rotate between HQ1 and HQ2, and often have an employee moonlighting as a DJ.

Since it was founded six years ago, the company’s social media management service has rapidly grown to nearly 10 million users, including 744 of the Fortune 1000 companies.

Like any startup, the company had both the talent and access to capital in order to flourish, but this is not always readily available – especially in Vancouver.

While the talent exists in Vancouver, especially in the early stages of startups, great ideas die due to the lack of capital and people who are willing to take risks for major gains. Talent also falls off as the economics of the idea are tough in the beginning.

“I think there’s great early stage talent, I think there’s great entrepreneurial talent,” Holmes said. “The thing that kills me is great ideas dying on the vine. I think that we need more access to capital to let young entrepreneurs that want to take risks just go with their ideas and chase them down. And we need crazy people that will back that – some people that think that this crazy idea actually has some merit so let’s let these guys run with it and see where they can get to.”

Holmes hopes alumni from HootSuite will start their own startups and further grow Vancouver’s tech ecosystem.

“My expectation and hope is that at some point the alum from our company are able to go and either do their own startups or go and work for other startups and help prop up this ecosystem and get it to a critical mass. I of course want to keep all of our great talented people here, and we’re going to try our hardest to do that, but I also expect that some people are going to go out…”

“Our big goal, and I’ve said this from day one, is to love doing what you’re doing,” Holmes continued. “I truly believe that you have to love what you’re doing day in and day out. Life is too short, we spend over 40 hours a week working with our colleagues, working here, doing what we’re doing and if you’re not loving it, that is too much of your life as a percentage to be spending time doing something you don’t like. So I encourage everyone to chase after what they love to do.”

#HootHire

Rather than always hiring, which can get a bit stale, HootSuite prefers to do big talent acquisitions at one time. Late last year, they held a #HootHire, which brought 1,200 people within a matter of hours and saw thousands more resumes come in after that. They currently receive 500 resumes per week and Ambrosia Humphrey, VP of Talent, said her team goes through each one.

If you’re interested in a career with HootSuite, they’re holding another #HootHire on Wednesday, August 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at both HQ1 (5 East 8th Avenue) and HQ2 (111 East 5th Avenue). While there will be an emphasis on sales and engineers, positions will be available across the board.

 

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The non-operational outhouse, one of Ryan Holmes’ ideas.

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