Airbnb Adds 300,000 SQFT of Sublease Space in Santa Clara

San Francisco Bay Area Santa Clara Cushman & Wakefield Airbnb Sobrato Organization Great America Corporate Center
Image courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

By Vladimir Bosanac

In early 2020, when the world looked markedly different than it does today, technology firms were expanding across the region and opening offices to be closer to the talent they employed across the Bay Area. In January of that year, San Francisco-based Airbnb announced that it would be leasing roughly 300,000 square feet of space in Santa Clara’s Great American Corporate Center located at 4301-4401 Great America Pkwy. While the digital vacation rental company signed a long-term lease at the property, according to industry sources, the company will now be looking to sublease the space, a move that is in line with its broader efforts to allow employees to work from anywhere.

Airbnb’s expansion in the pre-COVID times was a natural extension of its growing business. With its base in San Francisco where it once occupied five buildings, the move to Santa Clara was a natural way to extend its presence across the region. “We are excited to establish a permanent home in the South Bay that builds on our commitment to help create high-quality jobs that support the Bay Area’s economy,” an Airbnb spokesperson said in a statement. “This expansion will allow us to tap into the region’s robust talent pool as we continue to grow our team and business.”

The Sobrato Organization-owned property, located at 4301-4401 Great America Pkwy., was going to be occupied in two phases. The first was going to open in 2021, while the second as late as 2024. At the time, it was one 34 regional offices the company occupied across five continents. 

Sobrato declined to provide a comment for this story.

Earlier this year, the company’s CEO Brian Chesky announced that its employees will have the flexibility to work from anywhere, including up to three months overseas. The company also abolished location-based pay within the U.S. and saw the recruiting page receive over one million applications following the announcement.

“I think that the office as we know it, is over. It’s kind of like an anachronistic form. It’s from a pre-digital age. If the office didn’t exist, I like to ask, would we invent it? And if we invented it, what would it be invented for,” he asked during an interview with Time Magazine in May of this year.

The news comes at the same time as the company added another 150,000 square feet of sublease space at 999 Brannan in San Francisco. The city has been especially impacted by sublease availability, which according to Newmark’s second quarter of 2022 San Francisco Office Market Report is at 27.7 percent, or 24.5 million square feet.

The property in Santa Clara is marketed by Cushman & Wakefield’s Kelly Yoder, a director with the firm in its San Jose office. She did not respond to questions about this property in time of this publishing, however, the Cushman & Wakefield website states that the offering price is $42 per square foot NNN.

The news of Airbnb’s sublease follows other companies’ decisions to reduce their unused office space. San Francisco-based Lyft is planning to reduce its office leases in four cities by about 45 percent of the total 615,000 square feet it leases. The reduction in office space will be made in its hometown San Francisco and also in New York, Seattle and Nashville. The Registry also reported that Netlifx was placing 164,000 square feet across two buildings on the sublease market in Los Gatos. In February, Slack put 208,460 square feet of space on the sublease market in San Francisco. Zynga placed 185,000 square feet in San Francisco on the sublease market about a year ago and Airbnb added 300,000 square feet to the sublease tally in July of 2021. In July of 2022, Twitter announced that it would not occupy the 66,000 square foot lease in Oakland it signed with TMG Partners and KKR at 1330 Broadway while trimming its offices in San Francisco and also around the globe in Europe and Asia. Even the fabled venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announced that it was moving its headquarters to the cloud.

“It turns out that running a technology company remotely works pretty darned well,” Horowitz stated in his blog post speaking about his firm’s decision and the general trends of distributed work.

“When I see headlines about CEOs trying to lure employees back to the office, I feel like it’s probably a doomed approach,” explained Slack CEO and Co-Founder Stewart Butterfield to The Washington Post in December of 2021. “Work is no longer a place you go. It’s something you do.”

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