The Silicon Beach economy is maturing and evolving according to global law firm Goodwin who have recently announced plans to set up a new practice in Santa Monica dedicated to private equity and technology.
The new office will be located at 520 Broadway in Santa Monica. It will initially take up more than 20,000 square feet over the building’s entire fifth floor. A.J. Weidhaas, Co-Chair of the firm’s Private Equity practice, will serve as the Santa Monica Office Chair. The office will be home to approximately 20 technology and private equity lawyers, including current Goodwin lawyers who will relocate and lateral talent.
Weidhaas said opening an office in Santa Monica is necessary due to the logistical and cultural constraints of Silicon Beach.
He said travel from the westside to other parts of Los Angeles is a legitimate deterrent for some business deals and while tech companies are spread along the coast from Hermosa Beach to Santa Monica, the money behind the industry is clustered locally.
“You can see lots and lots of companies around but the financing sources tend to be more in Santa Monica and the Brentwood Corridor.”
According to Weidhaas the ability to host live meetings is still key to the industry’s success despite the growth of digital communications.
“Even through the products are virtual companies raise capital and do business to a significant extent in person,” he said. “There’s going to be an in person meeting and the human element of people still looking each other in the eye is real. It’s different to look someone in the eye rather than over skype.”
He said he expects the work in the local office to be heavily focused on the day to day needs of tech and media companies including work on intellectual property, employee concerns, stock questions and ongoing needs related to financing. He said the overall culture is maturing and Goodwins arrival in the city comes as another established company departs for larger offices nearby.
HBO recently announced plans to lease the entire 240,000-square-foot office building at Ivy Station, a large-scale mixed-use development currently under construction adjacent to the Culver City station of the Los Angeles Metro Expo Line.
In addition to the office building, Ivy Station will feature 200 apartments, 50,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space, a 148-room boutique hotel, two acres of publicly accessible outdoor space, and 1,500 below-grade parking spaces, 300 of which will be dedicated for use by Metro transit riders.
“HBO is an ideal business anchor for Ivy Station, bringing to the property creative professionals that will enjoy access to public transit, host out of town guests at the hotel, and frequent the shops and restaurants that will populate the ground floor town square-style retail space,” said Tom Wulf, Executive Vice President, Lowe.
Other established companies to move out of Santa Monica in recent years include Yahoo, Imax and The Honest Company. Bucking that trend was Snapchat who consolidated their disparate Venice offices into a cluster of buildings near the Santa Monica Airport.
Weidhaas said there will always be a churning of the tech/media companies in Silicon Beach and that the overall economy is continuing to follow the trends established in other tech hubs.
“The market is at midpoint here relative to how mature the market is in Silicon Valley and Boston,” he said. “It’s not early days anymore.”