San Francisco Chronicle
By Kimberly Veklerov
Uber will dramatically curtail the number of employees it will move into its Oakland headquarters next year and instead expand in San Francisco, company officials said Monday.
A few hundred workers will be stationed at the 380,000-square-foot Uptown Oakland office, rather than the nearly 3,000-person staff Uber initially forecast. In San Francisco, the ride-hailing company said it has purchased a stake in the new Mission Bay Warriors arena project.
An Uber spokeswoman said the company wanted to take a thoughtful and measured approach to its Oakland debut, but didn’t elaborate on the reasons for the deceleration.
Orson Aguilar, president of the Greenlining Institute — the Oakland nonprofit that has pushed for Uber to provide community benefits with its new headquarters, such as local hiring and a guaranteed living wage — said it appeared that Uber was “retreating” from the city.
“Citizens here are more demanding of corporations, and it could be that they just weren’t ready to deliver,” he said. “Are they just stalling so they can come into Oakland more quietly over the next few years?”
Uber purchased 1955 Broadway — which it calls the Uptown Station — in 2015 from developer Lane Partners, which bought the seven-story property the year before from Sears for $24.25 million. The developer and an architecture firm are midway through what was projected to be a $40 million overhaul of the building.
Up to half of the Oakland office will now be rented out to other tenants, according to the San Francisco Business Times, which first reported the developments.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the company notified city officials a few weeks ago that it would be scaling back its staffing at the Uptown Station.
“Uber’s sole decision to initially open its Oakland offices with fewer employees than originally planned does not negate the fact this prime office location will be put back into full use and made available for rent to other businesses and nonprofits, in addition to the presence that Uber will have there,” she said in a statement. “We continue to make ourselves available to Uber to help ensure the best possible transition to Oakland, including offering a number of ways in which they can positively impact the community.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what financial impact Uber’s move would have on the city. Michael Hunt, a spokesman for the mayor, said any lost business-tax revenue expected from Uber will be counteracted by additional money the company will pay acting as a landlord.