that is In the spring of 2016, I was in the Oval Office waiting for a job interview. But I wasn’t in Washington DC. I was at the San Francisco headquarters of GitHub, a code-hosting platform, sitting inside a full-scale replica of the Oval Office of the United States of America.
A woman picked me up. She shook my hand and explained that the Oval Office would be demolished and replaced with a café for staff. We’re trying to make things a little more real, she said, shrugging her shoulders and rolling her eyes barely detectable.
“But, but—” I muttered quietly in my head, moving my eyes from side to side. “that is presidential office! ”Those who value practicality! It felt like they were tearing down Disney World to make room for condos.
I took the job, stepped into a strange world without knowing it, and worked for a company that pushed the boundaries of corporate culture, and it turned out to be one of my most formative experiences in the tech industry.
Acquired by Microsoft in 2018, GitHub announced in February this year that, in addition to laying off 10% of its workforce, it would permanently close all its offices, including its beloved San Francisco headquarters, once the lease expires. Did. While the announcement may have seemed like just another example of a series of tech company office closures, GitHub’s headquarters are a living testament to tech culture and the conflict a harbinger of the next decade’s tech backlash. It was notable as one of the first disputed territories to become
San Francisco on GitHub The 55,000-square-foot office, which was attended by then-Mayor Ed Lee in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, opened in the fall of 2013, even at a time when lavish start-up offices were the norm. , was controversial. The first floor is designed as an event space, with Hogwarts-style wooden banquet tables, a museum, a spacious bar, thinking catis a giant bronze statue of GitHub’s mascot Octocat (a humanoid cat with octopus legs) posing from Rodin’s most famous work. Upstairs you’ll find a bootleg, an indoor park, and a secret lounge lined with wood and stocked with expensive whiskeys, with fake bookshelves or situation rooms. ) was accessible through
Despite its opulence, the office was designed to make everyone feel like a “first-class citizen,” rather than marginalized, as early employee Tim Klem put it. info world at the time. GitHub co-founder Scott Chacon, who led the internal design process, said GitHub executives wanted to attract local and remote employees instead of mandating office workdays. He explained to me that he took up the challenge of designing a Better than working from home. (It certainly worked for me. Although I generally prefer to work from home, I was at the GitHub office almost every day.)
The Oval Office, for example, was born when Chacon and his colleagues realized that the lobby would be a place where visitors would be forced to sit and wait for 5-10 minutes, a typically boring and unpleasant experience. . How can you create the “most interesting waiting room” to help kill time? “Most people don’t get the chance to sit in the Oval Office, but if you’re a GitHub employee, you can go there whenever you want.”
The office was a mind-bending, delightful home not just for its gaudy exterior, but playfully blurring the lines of pecking order and power. Chacon’s comments reflect his early organizational culture at GitHub, where there were no managers or titles. The former headquarters (“Office 2.0”), owned by a former tenant, his CEO, overturned the rules of his private office, furnishing it with swanky leather chairs and declaring it free for all to use. to exclude Executives may enter there. In Office 3.0, the lighting system and the calendar system were connected so that when the meeting was nearing its allotted time limit, the lights would flash, and no matter who the meeting was or how important the meeting was, Turns off completely.