Billion dollar valuations. $41 million funding rounds. There’s been a lot of talk about if we’re in another bubble or not, and articles like Geoffrey Fowler’s recent Wall Street Journal piece tend to extol the uncanny resemblances to the 1999 tech boom.
But I think Mustache Mondays, in-office pool tables, and parties DJed by M.C. Hammer aren’t so much a reflection on the extravagance of the space as a reflection on the start-up attitude and its intense expectations of employees.
Work Hard, Play Hard
For many start-ups, like Airbnb and social monetization company Peanut Labs, it’s about putting in the hours, but knowing when it’s time to let loose and have a good time. And although it’s a great way to make employees happy, it’s not all about them.
At Airbnb’s party celebrating its new headquarters yesterday, champagne, beer, and wine were free-flowing. Guests got to take a look at the company’s swanky new digs, which include a number of conference room replicas of their listings across the globe, including a quirky SoHo loft and a stylish apartment in Berlin.
In June, Peanut Labs provided a fun-filled evening aboard a yacht. The “Pirates of Silicon Valley” cruise, as it’s known, not only lets employees wind down, dance, and ogle the San Francisco skyline from the bay; it’s a great networking and recruiting opportunity (for those who can swallow the $600 ticket price, if they didn’t get an invite).
Other start-ups regularly hold launch parties, house-warming parties, and events to celebrate big milestones, but that’s just it — parties of this calibre are a special occasion, not the norm.
It still may seem extravagant to outsiders, but throwing such “epic” parties is a way for start-ups to get their name out there and make contacts with potential employees and investors. Good talent is hard to come by; good talent that’s available for hire? Forget about it. Start-ups and larger corporations alike are always hunting and recruiting new employees.
You want to show the talent how much they’re missing by not being a part of your team. And as for investors: Well, if you can afford to throw this shindig, you must be doing well, right?
It’s All About the Atmosphere
“It’s amazing how much more inspiration comes from sitting and chatting on a couple of couches instead of hunched over a cold conference table,” Airbnb employee Emily Joffrion said about one of her favorite conference rooms in the office.