ChatGPT maker OpenAI has signed the largest office building deal in San Francisco in five years, following comments from CEO Sam Altman earlier this year that remote work or hybrid work for startups is malarkey.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that OpenAI closed a deal with Uber to lease two of its buildings from its Mission Bay headquarters – 1455 and 1515 Third St, representing 486,600 square feet. This is the largest office lease deal in the crime-ridden metro area since 2018.
“We are glad that in a competitive office real estate market, our employee-friendly, award-winning and sustainable buildings clearly stood out,” Uber’s spokesperson told the Chronicle.
The spokesperson continued, “By right-sizing our space needs we can bring our teams closer together, exercise rigorous cost management, and bring more foot traffic to the businesses of Mission Bay. This is a win-win-win.”
OpenAI spokesperson Hannah Wong told the newspaper, “We are leasing two buildings from Uber in Mission Bay, which will provide the space needed for our growing team and are thrilled to continue scaling our company in San Francisco.”
Earlier this year, at an event in San Francisco, Altman told attendees that the idea of remote work becoming the norm has faded:
“I think definitely one of the tech industry’s worst mistakes in a long time was that everybody could go full remote forever, and startups didn’t need to be together in person and, you know, there was going to be no loss of creativity.
“I would say that the experiment on that is over, and the technology is not yet good enough that people can be full remote forever, particularly on startups.”
Altman’s move to expand operations in San Francisco’s beleaguered office market won’t save it as the vacancy rate has topped a record high 35%.
Mayor London Breed, who had to recently reverse failed progressive policies – after sparking a violent crime wave – applauded OpenAI’s “major investment” in the city.
The irony here is that AI could displace millions of jobs, especially those in white-collar industries, and force many of them from remote working jobs back into the office.