When you think of Twitter you probably think of money and glamour, but not so fast… In a post on Quora, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams explained why the social network moved its headquarters to the Civic Center area on Market Street, one of San Francisco’s worst neighborhoods.
Everybody assumed it was for the tax breaks: As part of an urban renewal initiative, San Francisco offers a temporary exemption to its 1.5% payroll tax to any company who sets up shop in the neighborhood — tax breaks that cost the city $4.2 million across the 15 companies that took advantage, according to a 2014 report.
But Williams writes that while “many factors were considered,” the tax breaks weren’t among them.
“I can tell you with certainty, though, that at our initial point of interest in the building, we knew NOTHING of the tax breaks (and that, without them, there is a good chance we would have moved out of the city,” Williams writes.
At the time, rumors were swirling that Twitter was considering a move outside of San Francisco proper, to the surrounding cities of South San Francisco or Brisbane.
Instead, it goes back to 2010, Williams recalls, when he was walking down Market Street, and told his wife Sara “how it’s a damn shame that the middle of San Francisco was so run down and empty.”
And so, Williams wrote, he thought that Twitter could do some good for the neighborhood, bringing in thousands of employees every day as a “revitalizing force.” Plus, the building that Twitter chose for the headquarters is a fortress-like structure formerly known as the Furniture Mart building — had “the largest floorplate (by far) of any available building in the city. I saw the location as a pro rather than a con,”
Twitter currently has close to 4K employees world-wide.