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Bay Area HQs ranked by a summer intern

Also can be found on Medium

Background:

This summer I flew across the country, from my small town in Connecticut to the Bay Area to work for a startup called Balto. Throughout my journey, I was able to visit some famous companies’ headquarters. So naturally, I decided to rank them. Thanks for Julia from Kapwing for the idea!

Me (right) at my not so fancy office this summerMe (right) at my not so fancy office this summer

Note: Some of these I visited on a previous trip to SF in March. Also these are meant to be fun and mostly comment on my brief trip to each office.

5) Uber

Backstory on Uber: We were meeting a friend of our founders there for a tour, lunch, and a discussion on how to appeal to recruiters. We thought we were meeting at 1455 Market Street when instead we were supposed to meet at their other HQ, 455 Market Street. And it turns out they are pretty far apart. While this was mostly our fault, I’m going to dock points for Uber having confusing addresses.

Lunch at Uber: I heard from an anonymous source that Uber uses the same catering company that many big tech companies use. And that same source told me that Uber didn’t even pick just pick the lowest catering tier — they invented an even lower tier just for themselves. The food was akin to dining hall food which is disappointing for a company that just IPO’d. I expected better.

Overall Feel: The whole office and environment felt very corporate. The attire was much more formal than other offices and just didn’t really feel as fun and lively overall. Nothing really stood out, just looked like an average American open office space. Rating: 3/10

4) Twitter

Backstory on Twitter: Went there for an intern networking event.

Food: Now Twitter had some good food. They had all kinds of finger foods like little hamburger sliders, skewers, and other enticing options. They also had a refreshing assortment of fresh squeezed juices. I wasn’t able to eat some of the foods due to food allergies but I won’t dock them any points.

Touch Screens and Monitors: All of them. Everywhere. They had all kinds of interfaces to see trending Tweets, view timelines, and see real time traffic around the world. Could definitely see myself wasting hours staring at those.

Overall Feel: Twitter HQ had a very “fun” feel to it. Although it was a bit over the top and came off a little corny. This could have just been because of the intern occasion though. There were plenty of little breakout rooms and a plethora of unique seating options. Something else to take note of was the lighting. It almost had a neon glow kind of vibe going on as the sun went down. Rating: 6/10

3) Yahoo

Backstory on Yahoo: I visited as part of my school’s Silicon Valley spring break trip in March. We had a tour guided by a UConn alumni (Go Huskies!)

Food: We had already eaten lunch which was a shame because they had a massive outdoor cafeteria (the real one inside was being renovated). Instead we hit up the smoothie and snack bar which was pretty standard. I apologize for any Yahoo employees who had to wait behind 20 college students to get their daily smoothie.

Overall Feel: Yahoo was a campus. They had their own gym with personal trainers, a sports show recording studio, and even basketball courts outside. Every conference room had a fun name that was dictated by theme of each floor. While Yahoo is a shell of its former self, you can’t beat having your HQ right on the water. Rating: 7/10

2) Nvidia

Backstory on Nvidia: We also visited here on the same spring break trip.

Spaceship: Nvidia looks like a spaceship. Both inside and out. It looks like it could unfold into a transformer at any second. Everything is in the shape of triangles to pay tribute to how graphics are rendered.

Tech: We got to go into their tour room where they show visitors all their latest graphic cards on full display. Stepping into that dark circular room felt like stepping into the future.

Overall Feel: Just being inside the building I felt that I was 50 years in the future. Everything was so sterile and precise, it felt almost non-humanoid. Oh, and they had a $80,000 coffee machine. Rating: Alien/10

1) Twitch

Backstory on Twitch: I went to a speaker event hosted by Twitch about building remote teams.

Games: The first thing I noticed when entering Twitch was the employees gaming. And not just by themselves. They seemed to be having a super intense Super Smash tournament. I wanted in.

Overall Feel: Twitch had the perfect amount of fun theming. And they stuck to the theme of gaming throughout the office. I enjoyed the dark lighting with a purple Twitch hue as the sun set. The attention to detail is what really makes them number one on this list. Even the bathroom signs were themed and the man/woman appeared to dance as you walked by it. Rating 9/10

If you own a cool office in the Bay Area, please invite me and I’ll come and rate it next time I’m out there!