Venice residents are pushing back against the sprawling growth of Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, and they might have struck a chord with the messaging app’s shotcallers. Buzzfeed reports that the company, which is preparing for its IPO, is planning for future growth of its company to happen someplace that’s not Venice.
Protestors who say the company is ushering in an unwelcome transformation of the once weird and artsy enclave gathered Tuesday outside of Snap’s Market Street offices.
The locals-versus-Snap conflict stems in part from Snap’s unusual real estate strategy.
Rather than concentrating in a large central campus a la Facebook or Google, Snap has opted to take up a series of smaller storefronts and spaces. Though the company recently leased a large space at the Santa Monica Airport, it rents and owns a significant amount of office space in Venice, where the company was first headquartered.
That might not have been an issue when Snap was scrappy startup small enough to fit comfortably into a former weed dispensary on the Venice boardwalk. But the company has grown to 1,859 employees and has gobbled up more and more space.
In a tight market like Venice, that has led to Snap taking over spaces occupied by local businesses and even a nonprofit that helps homeless teens. In one wave of growth in 2015, Snap displaced about three dozen workers from commercial spaces.
It’s not just the displacement of nonprofits and workers that’s upsetting residents.
Snap has posted security guards outside its offices, and has bike patrols making the rounds. The company has likely done this in an effort to make its workers feel safe, but the increased security presence and the now dead storefronts have combined to really tick off the locals.
“Streets that were alive with neighborhood and food and drink are now just locked front doors with security guards who are shooing the exact same people who lived in the neighborhood away,” a local barber told Buzzfeed.
A protestor outside Snap’s headquarters yesterday echoed the same complaint. “This is a public street and the community will not sit by quietly while Snap attempts to annex it for a private corporate campus,” the 11-year resident of Venice said.
When reached for comment by Buzzfeed, a Snap spokesperson responded:
We’re very grateful to be a part of the Venice community and we are sorry for any strain that our growth has placed on those who live and work here...We recognize that we are no longer the small startup that we once were and we are necessarily concentrating our future growth outside of Venice.