On a sunny Monday afternoon, a cluster of software engineers and marketing professionals gather around four taps: two for kombucha, two for local beer. Cold, carbonated beverages in hand, they migrate to the patio to admire the human-dwarfing mountains from their office’s two-story suite. This is @TwitterBoulder.
The social media giant recently moved its Colorado office three blocks east from 10th and Walnut streets to 1301 Walnut in downtown Boulder. The new home is roughly twice the size of their last: 30,000 square feet of colorful, open-concept office space that spans the top two floors of the Wencel Building.
The new location, once intended to house 200 employees (which would have doubled Twitter’s Boulder staff, according to the Denver Post), is currently more cavernous than it is full. Twitter wouldn’t confirm how many (if any) new positions they’ve added in the Colorado office, but did say the space provides them with room to grow. The company is currently advertising nine open positions in Boulder.
For those who follow Twitter (see what we did there?), it may seem somewhat remarkable that the Boulder office is expanding at all. CEO (and former Boulderite) Jack Dorsey confirmed via tweet last October that the company was paring down its overall team by about eight percent. Since Twitter’s founding in 2006, it’s never turned a profit, in spite of amping up annual revenue from about $28.3 million in 2010 to $2.2 billion in 2015. Recently, the company has struggled to grow its user base, which is ultimately what makes the social network valuable.
The company is said to be upping its user-expansion efforts, but in the meantime, it’s cooking up another increasingly important source of revenue here in Colorado. Chris Moody, vice president of data and solutions, says Twitter’s in-house, business-to-business data analysis software service will be crucial to the company’s growth and longevity. The Boulder office, he says, is the “heart and soul” of that service.
Twitter made its data work a priority when it acquired Boulder startup Gnip in 2014 for $134 million. Moody—who was Gnip’s CEO before the acquisition—likes to say that data is the new natural resource. His team were among the first to figure out how to extract and refine it, even in real-time.
Twitter’s software allows users to capitalize on insights it extracts from everyday conversations on the platform—scraping, aggregating, and analyzing bits of information from the several hundred million tweets sent every day. Third parties might utilize this software for everything from managing a PR crisis to conducting academic research to improving efficiency in supply chains to redefining marketing efforts. This vast and valuable data has drawn the attention of other tech companies, fueling rumors of a buyout by the likes of Disney, Alphabet (parent company to Google), and Salesforce. But so far, no they remain just that—rumors.
As for the Boulder office, it’s exactly what you’d expect. There’s not a single cubicle in sight. Instead, employees share community tables in large rooms awash in natural light. They can choose from a traditional seat or standing desks, migrate to private or semi-private nooks throughout the office, or reserve sound-proof (but see-through) glass stalls. Murals espousing the company’s vision adorn the walls, including one that depicts cross-country Twitter conversations about #snow that stretches over a Never Summer gear installation. Exposed networking wire runs overhead, calling to mind how, exactly, the magic happens.
On the top floor, employees find breakfast and lunch every day in the cafeteria, catered by local eateries like Dish Gourmet, and grade school-like lunch tables. This isn’t just a perk to keep talented employees. The area, which includes a wooden art installation dubbed “the nest”, also serves a functional purpose. “It’s this opportunity for serendipitous interaction with people you don’t run into on a daily basis,” says Randy Almond, head of data marketing. “You see folks and say, ‘hey what’s going on, what are you working on?’ and you find out about things that are either just interesting or things you can say, oh right, I didn’t even know we were doing that and that changes how I’m thinking about some problem I’m facing.”
Best of all, patios stretch out on the south and western sides of the building on both floors, where employees can work in the shadow of the pine-blanketed foothills, or just chat over a crisp kombucha.