Hoping for magic, start-ups follow Twitter into the building
SAN FRANCISCO — When Joe Fernandez, a tech entrepreneur, moved his start-up here last spring, a big goal, he said, was “to be best friends with the Twitter guys.” His theory was that by hanging around with executives at one of the hottest tech companies today, some of the magic could rub off.
And so he snagged an office at 795 Folsom, Twitter’s headquarters in the SoMa neighborhood. There, he has been stalking executives on — where else? — Twitter, to see who is to visit Twitter’s offices. When he finds out, he pounces and “hijacks the meeting,” he said, by asking them to swing by his company, Klout.
By doing that, he has met Robert Scoble, the influential technology blogger, and Steve Rubel, director of insights for the digital division of Edelman, the big public relations firm, and has spotted rapper Kanye West in the lobby on his way to Twitter.
Through elevator and lobby run-ins, he has also forged a close enough relationship with Twitter’s chief executive, Dick Costolo, that Costolo is helping Klout raise venture capital.
“Now I have his cell phone, and I text him,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez is not the only Silicon Valley entrepreneur trying to follow Twitter — literally. Although the beige-and-brown office building on Folsom doesn’t have a gym, a cafeteria, decent iPhone reception or a particularly attractive facade, tech start-ups are jostling to rent offices there. Like middle schoolers drawn to the popular kid’s table in the lunchroom, they are hoping that proximity to Twitter will lead to chance encounters in the elevator, partnerships or an acquisition — or simply that some of Twitter’s fairy dust will land on them.
Twitter moved in last year and expanded a floor in May. Among the start-ups that have moved in since are Klout, which helps marketers reach influential people on Twitter; Storify, a service for building online articles out of media like Twitter; and Liquid Traffic, an online marketing company. All say a top requirement in renting office space was to be near Twitter.