You Never Forget George Pappageorgewith Jason Fried
Basecamp CEO Jason Fried is back in the studio with an update on the company’s Chicago headquarters. Basecamp will be leaving its office this summer after a 10-year run, and Jason is looking at a number of options—including a space that will bring him full circle with one of his original 37signals partners.
- "Office Space," our last episode about the fate of the Chicago office - 00:45
- Brininstool+Lynch, the architects behind Basecamp's office - 6:54
- Carlos Segura, who co-founded 37signals with Jason and Ernest Kim - 13:13
- Coudal Partners is the Chicago design firm that makes Field Notes - 20:49
- Chicago artist Nate Otto has worked with Basecamp for many years - 21:17
- You never forget George Pappageorge - 21:33
The Full Transcript:
[00:00:00] Anyone You Meet Normcore Remix by Clip Art plays.
Shaun: [00:00:02] Rework is brought to you by Basecamp. Basecamp streamlines the way you manage projects, work with clients and communicate company-wide. Learn more and try it for free at basecamp.com.
[00:00:17] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Wailin: [00:00:17] Welcome to Rework, a podcast about the better way to work and run your business. I’m Wailin Wong.
Shaun: [00:00:23] And I’m Shaun Hildner. This week on the show we’re bringing you another one of our Last Week with Jason Fried segments. This is a segment in which we sit down with Jason Fried to talk about what he’s been up to in the last week. Running a business isn’t always about creating the product or even selling the product. Sometimes it’s about talking to a landlord.
Wailin: [00:00:43] Last year on the show we had Jason on to talk about the fate of our office here in Chicago and he told us that the lease was running out and that he was figuring out whether he wanted to try to extend our lease here in the Chicago headquarters or shop around for new space. And today we have an update. You talked to him about the latest developments in negotiating with the landlord and all that stuff, right?
Shaun: [00:01:08] Yeah, and it was a very fun, exciting conversation and we also got into a lot of the history of where Basecamp has lived for the last 20 years.
Wailin: [00:01:17] So it’s a little looking into the past and a lot of looking into the future and figuring out what does space look like for a company that is remote and looks really different from the company that first moved into this space a decade ago. And if you stick around, you’ll also hear Jason reveal how much we pay in rent
Shaun: [00:01:36] All right, let’s get into it.
[00:01:45] Last year we talked to you a little bit about some of the stuff you’re going through on what do we do with this office—
Jason: [00:01:49] Oh, right.
Shaun: [00:01:49] —once our lease is up. And so there’s been some movement there. Do you want to fill us in on the sort of the backstory up until about two weeks ago.
Jason: [00:01:58] So our lease is up at the end of July of this year. So we’ve been, kind of over the past year-ish, we’ve been looking into what do we do? Do we renew this lease, do we go find another place? We began looking for other office spaces and we were getting close and then I kind of felt like, well, maybe we should make an effort to try and extend this place perhaps for a little bit. I don’t really know. Let’s just see. So we went back to the landlord and it turned out that he has some plans maybe to do something with the building in a couple of years. So maybe we could extend our lease for a couple years until he’s ready. And then like we would leave and he would leave and whatever, he’d sell the building or something like that.
[00:02:33] So we were kind of going down that road and things were starting to look positive, kind of look up. The rates around here, the rents have gotten pretty high—
Shaun: [00:02:40] Through the roof, right?
Jason: [00:02:41] Through the roof, so I didn’t want to pay market. But I’m like, look, we’re an existing tenant. We’ve been here for 10 years. Every single other tenant in this building except Goodwill has bailed on you. We have not. We’ve been here the whole time. We pay our rent, we’ve beautified the building. You bring people through our space all the time. We’ve helped. Can you give us a hand here? And you know we’re friendly enough. So we kind of had a nice chat and kind of tried to make something work.
[00:03:05] And then we sat down to kind of hammer out a final negotiation and I could tell something was weird across the table. And I’m like, “Do you actually just not want us here?” He goes, “Well we’ve got someone who wants to rent the whole floor.”
[00:03:20] So for those who are listening, we have about, not quite half the floor, maybe 40% of the floor. There’s a vacant space and the other side of the floor that’s been vacant for a while. But in this neighborhood, the trend is for companies to take the entire floor plate. That’s kind of what’s going on. So he’s got someone who wants the whole floor. And so I basically said, then just let them have it because I’m not… Like, I don’t want to be somewhere where we’re not welcome. I don’t want to be somewhere where you’re gonna make more money off someone else and you’re gonna resent us. Like, you don’t need to really do us any favors. There’s lots of places around here and let’s just cut it clean. He goes, thank you very much. Appreciate that. And so that was it. So we shook hands across the table and that was it.
[00:03:57] So, we are out—
Shaun: [00:03:57] That’s not too bad.
Jason: [00:03:58] It was fine. We’re outta here on July 31st.
Shaun: [00:04:01] Okay.
Jason: [00:04:01] So that’s the last day of our lease.
Shaun: [00:04:04] And I just want to go back a little bit further in case we didn’t cover this on the last one, how many people were working at Basecamp when you first got the office? And especially how many people were in Chicago and coming to the office?
Jason: [00:04:14] Well, let’s see. Our lease has been 10 years, so 2010.
Shaun: [00:04:19] Around 20 people, maybe?
Jason: [00:04:19] 20-ish, maybe. And we had maybe eight in Chicago, something like that. But we knew that we were going to grow a bit and we knew that we’re going to bring people into town frequently and we built this theater to give events and whatnot.
[00:04:34] So we had—
Shaun: [00:04:35] The theater with 37 seats.
Jason: [00:04:36] 37 seats. 37signals, 37 seats. So, we had this vision to use the space in a slightly different way. It’s funny because it’s kind of the perfect office two weeks out of the year.
Shaun: [00:04:47] Yeah.
Jason: [00:04:47] Right. It’s perfect.
Shaun: [00:04:48] Well, it’s almost perfect because now we’re 50-something people.
Jason: [00:04:50] It’s hard to fit everybody in the theater.
Shaun: [00:04:52] And the theater is a little small.
Jason: [00:04:53] But we have these team rooms, we have conference rooms, we’ve got like the big kitchen. It’s just, I’ve been thinking about like we need to get, what are we going to do? And it’s like we could rent a theater to give a talk, but there’s no breakout spaces. We’ve got to really figure out how to find something like this. If we were looking for something like this, we would rent this that we have. We don’t have it anymore, so.
Shaun: [00:05:12] My favorite with the meetups is somehow, even with 50 people, lunches still seem communal.
Jason: [00:05:17] They do.
Shaun: [00:05:17] That you can still talk to people, you can still do whatever you want.
Jason: [00:05:20] Yeah. Well, it’s because we have that massive table.
Shaun: [00:05:21] That is nice.
Jason: [00:05:22] Also, which seats 20 people.
Shaun: [00:05:23] The bank table, yeah.
Jason: [00:05:23] Yeah. Actually I remember when we moved in everyone could sit around that table. So we had about 20 people. So it was right. That was about the right number. Well it’s an old, so it’s actually an old conference table that used to be in a bank, on the 30th floor of some bank building.
Shaun: [00:05:36] Oh, you can totally tell, too.
Jason: [00:05:39] Yeah, it flares.
Shaun: [00:05:40] You can imagine all the suits sitting around.
Jason: [00:05:41] Great designs. Yeah, exactly. But you can see everybody cause it kind of flares out in the middle. So I don’t know. We’re… the office is kind of perfect for a couple weeks of the year. Other than that, like literally there’s what, today, there’s four people in here. Five.
Shaun: [00:05:54] That’s a big day.
Jason: [00:05:54] That’s a big day. Usually it’s three. It’s you, me, and maybe Wailin twice a week or three times a week. Maybe Navid sometimes. Maybe someone else wanders in. And we have 11,000 square feet for three people. It’s just ridiculous.
Shaun: [00:06:06] It’s called luxury.
Jason: [00:06:08] It is luxury. It really is.
Shaun: [00:06:08] I feel spoiled.
Jason: [00:06:10] It’s very luxurious and we’re here in this dedicated podcast room, studio, like it’s, we’ve got a good setup here but it really is more than we need. And actually there was another stage here where we were about to sign another 10-year lease here kind of. So we were going to another company that we know, the architects, actually, who designed the space, they needed new space. They love our space because they designed it and they were thinking about taking over the lease for 10 years. Then we would sublet a small piece of it. And that would have been like we could have stayed here and had more people around every day. That would have worked out too. But that didn’t work out for a couple of reasons.
[00:06:45] And so now we’re beginning to look, we’re looking with them for maybe going into space with them.
Shaun: [00:06:52] With B&L.
Jason: [00:06:53] Yeah, with B&L.
Shaun: [00:06:53] Oh, cool.
Jason: [00:06:53] So we’re looking into that. I have an appointment on Thursday to go look at a space. Back in the Loop again. So looking at that opportunity again, you’d like that.
Shaun: [00:07:01] Fancy pants, that’s going to be so easy on my commute.
Jason: [00:07:05] Yeah. I’m thinking like very few people come anyway. Those who do, like you, the commute would be so much easier.
Shaun: [00:07:09] And people from out of town like—
Jason: [00:07:12] Yes.
Shaun: [00:07:13] —downtown is more interesting. It’s more Chicago than—
Jason: [00:07:15] It is.
Shaun: [00:07:15] —the Google [crosstalk].
Jason: [00:07:18] It’s more to be honest, it’s more for like can I handle it?
Shaun: [00:07:20] This is, for Jason Fried. Can Jason Fried get downtown?
Jason: [00:07:20] To be honest. I’m being selfish here. Like, do I want to go downtown three days a week? Do I? Maybe I should suck it up and do it. Anyway, we’re looking at a really cool building. Maybe we do this with them. Maybe we don’t, I don’t know. And then I’m also going to look at some other buildings. Actually, but everything we’re looking at right now we’d be going in with another company so we’d be kind of sharing a space with someone else. Because realistically we need that. We want the space, but we don’t always need the space.
Shaun: [00:07:43] We want the space every six months.
Jason: [00:07:47] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:07:47] Yup.
Jason: [00:07:47] And so for example, if we went in on like a 10,000 square foot space like we have with another company and then two weeks out of the year we would own the whole office for ourselves and they would like work from home or something, like, that’d be fine. And that’d be perfect for us.
Shaun: [00:08:01] Yeah.
Jason: [00:08:01] We’d have people around, there’d be other warm bodies in the place, it’d be nice. So, we have to find a cultural fit, though, with the company that we’d, but B&L are quiet and their architects are always doing their focused work. So, we’ll see. But we have to kind of kick it into high gear or we’ll have no office for a while, which is also an option.
Shaun: [00:08:20] Yeah.
Jason: [00:08:19] So, we’ve talked about that.
Shaun: [00:08:20] Let’s talk about that.
[00:08:23] Obviously, as one of the authors of the book Remote, we talk a lot about remote work and the beauties of remote work around here.
Jason: [00:08:31] Why do we need space?
Shaun: [00:08:31] Why do we need space?
Jason: [00:08:31] We don’t. We don’t. We’ve never needed a space. We’ve always looked at an office, as a luxury item. And for basically our whole existence, we subletted a few desks from somebody else until 2010 we sunk a bunch of money into this place and I feel like it was worth it. It was a great office. The whole company would come in twice a year. We had somewhere to put everybody. It felt good. It feels good to work here. It’s a nice space. But it is a luxury and I think that’s okay. Just recognizing that it’s a luxury. We don’t need an office and therefore if we can’t find something this year, we’ll go without one for a while. Maybe we’ll go without one for a year and see how that feels. Maybe we feel like we do need some sort of HQ in Chicago because we do have a center of gravity here. There are 13 people or so that work here. So it’s nice to able to get together with people in town. It’s nice to bring people into town for training. There are some benefits of having a central place. So we’ll see.
[00:09:23] Part of what we’ve been looking at is can we get away with like a 4,000 square foot office, like a nice, much smaller space or do we want to go in on a bigger space with another company? We’re just digging around right now, but I wouldn’t feel bad if the lease expired and we didn’t have an answer. If we didn’t have an answer, it’d be well we just, let’s exist.
Shaun: [00:09:40] Yeah.
Jason: [00:09:40] You and Wailin would find a studio. We’d rent a theater out if we needed to. Like, we can rent venues out and we can rent these selective things out if we need to. But that said, it just, there’s something that does feel nice about having a place you can call home and—
Shaun: [00:09:56] That’s not your home.
Jason: [00:09:56] That’s not your home.
[00:10:00] And I mean that for the company because most people here do work remotely either at home or in co-working spaces.
Shaun: [00:10:07] You mean in Chicago?
Jason: [00:10:07] Yeah, like we are based here. The center of gravity is here. We have 13 people here. This is where we’re based. So it’s not a bad idea. And also we’ve been, David and I have been talking a little more about giving more back to Chicago in some ways since this is where our home is. And so part of that might be having a space that we can use for other things and let other people borrow and stuff.
[00:10:28] Anyway, so we’re kind of playing around with the notion that we should still have something, but just not this. This doesn’t make sense. 10,000 square feet for three people. No, that’s a waste. It’s wasteful.
Shaun: [00:10:37] I can’t complain. What sort of excites you the most?
[00:10:41] I think the last time we talked you were, I mean, you’re always excited about designing a new office.
Jason: [00:10:45] Yeah, that’s exciting.
Shaun: [00:10:45] That’s fun for you. Do you also get the same amount of excitement or a different kind of excitement about taking your entire company remote? I feel like if I was asking David this—
Jason: [00:10:55] [crosstalk]
Shaun: [00:10:58] —right now, it would be the exact opposite answer.
Jason: [00:10:59] It might be. Yeah. I like architecture projects, I like designing spaces, I like materials. I like that stuff. So I’m excited about the opportunity to rethink how we want to work moving forward in a physical place. this office here is very much based on how we thought we were going to work with a lot more people in a physical space. A lot of the ideas behind it are solid, like the quiet materials and no clutter and people have room and we have these private rooms and it’s a library kind of feel, so.
Shaun: [00:11:31] We should mention that actually this room existed before there was a podcast.
Jason: [00:11:36] Yeah. This was an anticipatory room. Like, we might need something like this.
Shaun: [00:11:39] Just in case.
Jason: [00:11:39] Yeah. I like the idea of thinking through the space and building out a space. It’s just fun. I enjoy it. And I think though that the way we’ve worked has changed in a way, seeing that there’s probably only still going to be maybe five or six people in the office on a given day. I’d probably make it more of a communal kind of space and then have still some private rooms for people who really need to work privately. But otherwise it feels actually a bit weird that there’s only a few people and we’re so far apart.
[00:12:10] I still like the notion of like an old library, like library tables, with little dim lights and you can kind of share tables with someone if you want.
Shaun: [00:12:17] Green lampshade.
Jason: [00:12:19] Green jade lamps that click on.
Shaun: [00:12:20] The gold pull chain.
Jason: [00:12:21] Yes. Like that notion of four or six of these kinds of tables lined up and then, having private spaces.
Shaun: [00:12:27] Yeah. That’s a really interesting point because there are days when you could be in the office for two hours without me noticing.
Jason: [00:12:32] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:12:32] Just because you’re situated on the opposite end of the office.
Jason: [00:12:36] And sometimes people go in the kitchen and work together. I just feel like if we’re going to get together, which we don’t do that often, let’s make it more communal, but still have, again, these private quiet, private rooms where you can go do your own work if you really need to do that. So it’d be more of a combination of private spaces and general spaces. I don’t think we’d have individual desks anymore. Maybe there’s one or two. Like, I know you kind of have a high-powered machine that you might kind of need. So maybe there’s something like that, but maybe you just jump in a room for those moments. I don’t know. I just want to rethink that a little bit and see what we come up with.
[00:13:08] What I’d really like to truly buy. So, Carlos Segura, who was one of the original partners in Basecamp or 37signals when we first started the business, we worked out of his office. He’s got this amazing, have you ever seen the building?
Shaun: [00:13:20] No, I haven’t.
Jason: [00:13:22] He has this amazing old bank. It’s an old small bank building.
Shaun: [00:13:25] Oh, cool.
Jason: [00:13:26] With a marble facade.
Shaun: [00:13:27] Yep.
Jason: [00:13:27] It’s kind of like the perfect space. It’s small scale. It’s actually an old bank which I would convert into an old library, like it has this massive lobby. It’s just a cool, like, beautiful detail. I would love to buy this building from him and bring Basecamp back to the place that started and have our own free-standing building with a nice kitchen. It has a nice basement, has a great space for podcast rooms. It’s a good setup. Has outdoor space, has outdoor parking, has a garage, roof deck, but like small-scale building. Traditional Chicago single lot kind of—
Shaun: [00:14:00] I can picture it.
Jason: [00:14:02] I’ll send you a picture. It’s so cool. Anyway, he’s not ready to sell it yet, but I could see us at some point owning that and making that our office again after 20 years.
Shaun: [00:14:11] We’ve been meaning to get Carlos on the podcast, anyway.
Jason: [00:14:14] He’s fun to talk to.
Shaun: [00:14:15] So, we can sort of a butter him up there a little bit.
Jason: [00:14:17] Yeah, please.
Shaun: [00:14:18] Yeah.
Jason: [00:14:18] We’ve talked about it. He’s thinking about it. It’s just like not, it wouldn’t happen this summer, before our lease is up. But it might, maybe we find another place for a while. I don’t know. If this thing came available. I would really think it’d be like kind of the ideal situation for us. It’s an amazing place. But we’ll see how that shakes out.
Shaun: [00:14:35] Yeah.
[00:14:35] Anyone You Meet Normcore Remix by Clip Art plays.
Wailin: [00:14:37] After the break, Jason talks about the importance of healthy change, even if it’s just a change in environment. But first I want to bring on our friend Neal Sáles-Griffin to share another interesting use of Basecamp.
Neal: [00:14:50] Neal Sáles-Griffin’s back again with another Basecamp use case. This one’s a little bit on the edge. That’s how I’ve maintained some of the relationships I’ve been in over the years. So a lot of my ex-girlfriends have archived Basecamp accounts with our shared to do’s and ways that we’ve, shared favorite movies and different lists of things. And we’ve gotten projects done together, recipes and planning and prep trips. So, yeah, when, it used to be Facebook official, but now it’s Basecamp official. So if I’m with somebody and we’re on Basecamp, you know it’s real.
Wailin: [00:15:24] Basecamp is the all in one app for organizing your work and maybe even your life Basecamp is now completely free for personal projects. Learn more at basecamp.com.
Shaun: [00:15:38] Sort of on the opposite side of that coin of what you’re most excited about. What are you sort of most worried about or most nervous about around losing the office?
Jason: [00:15:44] For a while, there was some sadness for a moment of like this is a special place. The company grew up in here in a sense.
Shaun: [00:15:54] Two different Basecamp launches.
Jason: [00:15:56] Two different Basecamp launches. What else happened? I mean book launches, there’s a bunch of things that happened here.
Shaun: [00:16:00] You hired Shaun Hildner.
Jason: [00:16:02] That was a moment I’ll never forget. I remember you even interviewed with a tie.
Shaun: [00:16:07] I wore a tie.
Jason: [00:16:07] You wore a tie. It wasn’t a bolo tie though, which it should have been.
Shaun: [00:16:10] No, I know.
Jason: [00:16:12] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:16:12] I didn’t want to put all my cards on the table in the first meeting.
Jason: [00:16:14] Exactly. But a lot of things happened here and it’s a beautiful space and everyone who comes in is really impressed and we have these amazing workshops and it’s really laid out in a way where we can like throw a workshop at anytime and don’t have to rent a venue. And it’s a great space and it represents how we work and the whole thing. And so, for a moment I was sad about it, but then, it’s just a space. It’s just material. It, whatever. We could do it again if we wanted to. And it’s 10 years old, things change.
[00:16:40] So, some friends were like, oh my God, that place is amazing. How could you ever leave it? And it’s like, well it’s just a place. We can make another amazing place. Why don’t we make a place that represents who we are today, not who we were 10 years ago. Things have changed, too. And I do think a little bit about like how easy it is right now for us here. We want to have a meetup, we just fly people in. We don’t have to think about venues and like dealing with that. We want to have a workshop, we just like put it up online and go. You want to do a podcast and we just jump in this room. So there’s a lot of ease in this space, which I think will be difficult to recreate until we have our own dedicated space again.
[00:17:16] And some of the things we will never be able to do unless we get a big space, which we’re probably not going to do. And just, I mean, moving stuff and storing furniture. Moving sucks, always.
[00:17:28] And we’re going to hire someone to help us with that, but like just stuff.
Shaun: [00:17:29] It’s still moving.
Jason: [00:17:31] It’s just stuff, I know and it’s just disruptive and it’s annoying. It’s irritating. And also like, mailing addresses, all that shit that you just got to do, and I don’t know where we’re going to go, probably. And maybe we will know by then. I don’t look forward to that part at all.
Shaun: [00:17:44] Yeah.
Jason: [00:17:44] And then I think the moment we turn the lights out, like there’ll be a little bit of an emotional feel there. We’re leaving a great space, you know? And also, I kind of hope that whoever comes in here changes it cause I feel like we’re leaving a lot for them and it sounds terrible, but I feel bad. I feel like we’re giving someone this amazing place and this is like a terrible feeling. I’m just being honest about it. It’s like someone’s getting something really special here and I just kind of feel weird about it. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t. It’s just my own little weird thing going on. But, you know.
Shaun: [00:18:15] Yeah. Like when you sell your childhood home and be like, well, now you have to take care of this because I have a lot of memories in there.
Jason: [00:18:20] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:18:22] This is on you.
Jason: [00:18:23] But I actually, in that case, I’d want them to gut the house and make it their own.
Shaun: [00:18:27] Right.
Jason: [00:18:26] That’s kind of what I hope. I don’t want someone to be like bringing people in here and being like, look at our amazing office. It’s not your office, man.
Shaun: [00:18:33] That’s mine.
Jason: [00:18:32] That’s my office that you took over. But it’s ours. We built it. And so there’s some of that weirdness, but that’ll fade in time. [00:18:39] And the other thing is we have a very, it just doesn’t affect you, but we’ve a very sweet parking situation here. We have a parking garage underground, which is incredibly rare in this neighborhood. And we had to do a lot to make that happen. And when we first moved in or we first looked at the space, there was a ramp that was like 40 degrees or 50 degree, like crazy steep ramp.
[00:19:00] And I’m like, Phil, who’s the landlord, Phil, this is not, it can’t do this.
Shaun: [00:19:04] This can’t be code.
Jason: [00:19:05] So we put up. Yeah, it’s not to code. And also like it’s flat-out dangerous. So we did a lot of work, and he did a lot of work, but it was part of the lease to put a new ramp in. And we have a pretty sweet, like I’m very fortunate, like I get to drive from a garage to a garage. I appreciate how good we have it here.
Shaun: [00:19:25] Yeah.
Jason: [00:19:25] And we may not have that again. So I’m not looking forward to giving that up either. But again, these are all temporary things anyway. 10 years ago and a day before that we didn’t have this place either and we existed and we had a great business and we will have the same thing after this and we’ll just move on.
Shaun: [00:19:43] It reminds me a lot of Basecamp when people say you have this wonderful office, how could you ever leave? I remember getting those or hearing those sentiments when we launched with BC2.
Jason: [00:19:53] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:19:53] I remember hearing the exact same thing when we launched BC3.
Jason: [00:19:56] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:19:57] It’s sort of built into Basecamp and 37signals’ philosophy that sometimes you just need a fresh start.
Jason: [00:20:04] Yeah. I thought a little bit about that too with this space, which is if we were to sign another lease, like a real lease, it’d have to be 10 years because that’s what commercial leases basically are, which means 20 years in the same space. I don’t know if that’s actually a healthy thing.
Shaun: [00:20:15] Yeah.
Jason: [00:20:17] Maybe had we continued to expand, had more people working and living here in Chicago. That might make more sense. But I think it’s just healthy for a clean break, occasionally, like this. And it forces us to reevaluate our own values and how we want to work and how we want to be. And it’s good, on balance, to like draw a line and leave and do something new, with the space or not have one at all.
[00:20:39] So, actually, I think this is our fifth office.
Shaun: [00:20:43] Do you want to run through the full history? Because I only remember the, I’ve only worked in this office. But I’ve been over to Coudal’s where we used to work.
Jason: [00:20:52] Yeah, let’s go through it if I can remember. So we first started the business in ‘99 and we worked out of Carlos’s office. It was me, Carlos, and Ernest around a table a little bit bigger than the table we’re at right here. And we worked out of place.
[00:21:05] So Carlos left about a year later and so Ernest and I found a place on Institute Place. That was our first dedicated office. We had about 3000 square feet. Nate Otto painted a mural in that space. This is way back when. This is way early. This is like 2000 or something.
Shaun: [00:21:20] This was when you can get Nate Otto art for dirt cheap.
Jason: [00:21:21] For nothing. We were there for, I think three years and then our lease was up. We ended up moving across the street and subleasing someone else’s office. Our landlord was George Pappageorge, who’s an architect. Great name.
Shaun: [00:21:35] Fantastic.
Jason: [00:21:35] Great name, famous architect in Chicago. Not like famous in terms of amazing buildings, but he’s been around for a long time. Everyone knows George Pappageorge.
Shaun: [00:21:43] Yep. You never forget George Pappageorge.
Jason: [00:21:44] Never forget George Pappageorge. So we rented some space. We finished the lease there. And then after that, that was like probably 2006, we went to Coudal. We rented five desks or six desks or something. And that was a really important thing for us.
Shaun: [00:22:02] And they weren’t huge either, right? They could have had—
Jason: [00:22:03] We had the same size company.
Shaun: [00:22:05] Yeah, five or six desks as well.
Jason: [00:22:07] They basically did. So we were there for about five years with Coudal and then we moved into this space. So this was our fourth space, basically. And then our next one will be our fifth. And in 20 years, that’s not so bad.
Shaun: [00:22:19] Oh, that’s bad at all.
Jason: [00:22:19] But we’ve subletted basically most of the time. we’ve only had two original spaces.
Shaun: [00:22:24] Right.
Jason: [00:22:24] And maybe we’ll, I think it kind of feels like we should bounce back to subletting again, actually, to be honest. So we’re talking, again, to B&L and this other company, this other guy I know, he’s looking for new space. We might gang up together and work together. I don’t know. We’ll see. Maybe that’s kind of the back and forth thing, sublet, own, sublet, own, or whatever. Until Carlos’s building is available, I would just like to buy that building. It’s such a cool space.
Shaun: [00:22:48] I think that’s pretty good. Is there anything else you want to say about the office right now? We’re going to do this again once the big change happens.
Jason: [00:22:52] People are always curious about like how much do you pay for your space?
Shaun: [00:22:55] Yeah, let’s do some real, can you say real numbers? Do you mind?
Jason: [00:22:58] No, no, I don’t. I don’t know exact numbers, but I believe we’re currently paying about 17,000 bucks a month for the space. It’s about 11,000. It’s 10,800 or something like that. When we first moved in our rent was not that much cheaper, but it’s gone up over the years, over 10 years. I think it was like 15,000 or something or 14. I don’t even remember exactly, but—
Shaun: [00:23:16] Do you remember what you were quoted when we first found out that the lease was was up and…?
Jason: [00:23:21] Yes, it was something like $38,000.
Shaun: [00:23:24] So more than double.
Jason: [00:23:26] More than double. Our rent was about to more than double because this area… when we moved into this area, it was not desirable at all.
Shaun: [00:23:32] It was still meat packing.
Jason: [00:23:33] Meat packing, still. And so we were very early and we got a good lease and we got a great space and we got really good terms and the whole thing. So you know we’ve done very well for ourselves over the past 10 years and finally, like, truth came and met us and it’s like, well it’s going to be about 40 grand, all in, because, the 38… there were some other things we had to pay for that we weren’t paying for. Parking was kind of included. I’ts not totally included now, but it’s cheaper. Parking, everything was going up, taxes were going up, all this stuff.
[00:23:59] So, look, if we had 30 people in the office every day, that’d be fine.
Shaun: [00:24:03] Completely worth it.
Jason: [00:24:05] But so not worth it for four people. Close to 40 grand a month, it’s ridiculous, absolutely. It’s ridiculous to pay 17. Totally ridiculous. But it’s a really super good deal right now in this neighborhood. So I don’t feel bad about that. And also whenever we have our workshops, tickets are about a thousand bucks. We sell 37 tickets, 37,000 bucks. We sell out in a day, that pays for two months of rent. So it’s totally worth what we have.
[00:24:32] And in fact, we could pay the full rent, this new rent and still do more workshops and be fine, but it just feels wasteful, still.
Shaun: [00:24:39] Yeah, feels totally wasteful.
Jason: [00:24:39] So yeah, that’s kind of where we’re at in this neighborhood. And this neighborhood’s just gotten crazy. So, it’s funny. It’s like, we could find a space that’s half as big as we have now and it’s going to cost us as much as we pay today, but that’s just the reality of the situation.
Shaun: [00:24:52] Have you ever crunched any numbers on if we were a totally remote company, how much you save on office rent versus how much it costs to fly everyone, to rent this big theater or hotel conference room.
Jason: [00:25:06] We’ve looked at it before. I mean, it depends. The nice thing about Chicago, there’s a couple things that are nice about Chicago. One is that it’s pretty centrally located for people in the United States, at least, right? Everyone has a direct flight to Chicago and internationally almost everyone has a direct flight to Chicago. Chicago is a great city for that. Not everybody, but almost everybody. But if we had to fly an additional, 13, 14 people somewhere else and rent a venue, it just depends on the venue. There’s cheap venues, there’s expensive venues, but it’d be another 14 flights plus 14 hotel rooms, so it could get pretty expensive pretty quickly. Having an office and having everyone come in twice a year and paying rent is probably actually a much better deal.
Shaun: [00:25:44] Right.
Jason: [00:25:44] And it also just cuts down on, like, flying. We were talking a little bit about, David and I, just yesterday about carbon footprint for the company and how flying is just brutal.
Shaun: [00:25:53] Yeah. Well fantastic. This is sort of exciting. I’m a little nervous.
Jason: [00:25:57] Are you?
Shaun: [00:25:57] Yeah.
Jason: [00:25:58] Is it because—
Shaun: [00:25:59] I love the office.
Jason: [00:25:59] —your job? Yeah, I do too. But it’s also because you have this room for you or no?
Shaun: [00:26:02] There’s that. I’m just such a creature of habit. I love having the schedule. I wake up at the same time. I take the same train to work every day.
Jason: [00:26:09] Same clothes every day.
Shaun: [00:26:09] Exactly.
Jason: [00:26:11] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:26:11] I make zero decisions in my life.
Shaun: [00:26:13] But, yeah, you know, change is hard.
Jason: [00:26:17] Well you know it, it is, but once we have something new to do, you’ll get used to that.
Shaun: [00:26:19] Yeah, exactly.
Jason: [00:26:19] Then that’ll be the thing… we’re not going to sign a two-year lease somewhere. We’re gonna, If we get another space, we’re going to be in it for at least five.
Shaun: [00:26:27] Unless the bank…
Jason: [00:26:28] Unless the bank comes on sale and I will make that happen. I’ll show you some pictures. It’s pretty cool.
Shaun: [00:26:33] I can’t wait.
Jason: [00:26:33] Yeah.
Shaun: [00:26:33] Awesome.
Jason: [00:26:33] Cool.
Shaun: [00:26:34] Thank you, Jason.
Jason: [00:26:35] You bet, Shaun. Thanks.
[00:26:36] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Wailin: [00:26:40] Rework is produced by Shaun Hildner and me Wailin Wong. Our music is by Clip Art.
Shaun: [00:26:46] You can find show notes for this episode at our website, rework.fm. We are on Twitter at @reworkpodcast. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call and leave a voice mail at (708) 628-7850. We’d love hearing from all of our listeners.
[00:27:04] And if you have a second, please leave us a five star review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Wailin: [00:27:12] Rework is brought to you by Basecamp. Basecamp combines all the tools teams need to get work done in a single streamlined package. With Basecamp, everyone knows what to do, where things stand, and where to find things they need. Check it out for yourself at basecamp.com.
Shaun: [00:27:38] Wailin, I’m thinking about getting this worm bin.
Wailin: [00:27:43] I love worms.
Shaun: [00:27:43] Can you tell me sort of what I’m doing?
Wailin: [00:27:46] I have been vermicomposting now for maybe six years or something. Yeah, it’s been awhile. My brother in law got me, this is many years ago now. I believe it’s called, is it? Worm Factory 360. I should look up the exact name of the brand, but it is a tiered system of bins that stack on top of each other and they have holes at the bottom. And so you set it up and you put some dirt in there. and then you add your worms and you add your food scraps and then the worms start breaking down the food and then their poop becomes your compost. And after that bin gets filled up, you put the next bin on top and because there’s holes in the bottom of that bin, you put the food scraps in the new bin with some dirt and stuff and then the worms like crawl up through the holes and they populate the new bin. And then you can like scoop the compost out of the bottom bin that they vacated. And that is your compost. So it’s like a very elegant system.
Shaun: [00:28:52] How fantastic. I’m really excited to start this little project.
Wailin: [00:28:55] What else can I tell you?
Shaun: [00:28:55] What kind of worms are we talking about here? What should I, what kind of worms should I be sourcing?
Wailin: [00:28:59] They’re called red wrigglers, I think. And I remember I just ordered them on Amazon and I remember they just like come in a brown paper bag. I mean they were like very not packaged in a fancy way. Because I remember getting a text from my husband being like, your worms just arrived. I put them on the counter and they’re just like kind of—
Shaun: [00:29:21] Please come deal with this.
Wailin: [00:29:22] It was like a pile of worms in a very shoddy container on the counter. We are allergic in my house, two out of the three members of our household are allergic—
Shaun: [00:29:32] Allergic to everything.
Wailin: [00:29:33] Like, everything, like pet dander and stuff like that. So we consider these to be our pets.
Shaun: [00:29:38] That’s adorable.
Wailin: [00:29:38] They don’t have names. My daughter gets involved. We like to go check on the worms, and you can watch them at work, you know? It’s great.
Shaun: [00:29:46] Watch them eat and poop.
Wailin: [00:29:47] Oh yeah, that’s all they do.
Shaun: [00:29:48] Awesome. Well, thank you. I’ll keep you and our listeners posted on how my worm project goes.
Wailin: [00:29:54] Yeah, please do.