February 7, 2022
Author: Reed McGinley-Stempel
Today, the Stytch team in SF officially moves into its new home at 555 Montgomery Street. It’s an exciting moment for Stytch, as a company born during the pandemic and experiencing rapid growth. As a new hire, I sat down and across the screen with our very own Cass Roulund, Head of People Operations, to learn more about the making of the move, what went into finding a new space and what she’s most excited about now that the doors are opening. Please, come on in…
ALI: Ok Cass, let’s warm up. Introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Stytch.
CASS: Sounds good. So I joined Stytch in May 2021, as the first people hire. Back then, there were only 15 of us and since then, we’ve grown like crazy. I manage everything people-related, from HR software, perks and benefits, to happy hours, performance reviews and office moves.
ALI: Nice. You clearly wear many hats here…when did you put on the office move hat?
CASS: The topic of a move started out as a joke between me, Julianna and Reed [Co-founders of Stytch] because there was only ever 5 people in the office at any given time. It quickly turned into a real thing when we hosted Stytch’s first hackathon (in July 2021). There was close to 20 people in the office and we realized that we’re quite big and growing, and that we might need to seriously think about finding more space. It was a weird “should we or shouldn’t we?” moment, what with Covid. We wanted people to feel comfortable enough to come in, but it was also during the Delta wave and pre-booster shots. We weren’t sure if it was silly to go bigger when we didn’t know what was going to come next. We started thinking through the timeline and realized we were hiring at such a fast pace, given our size, that it’s going to need to happen and we should get moving now.
ALI: Where was Stytch located back then?
CASS: In the South Park neighborhood. We moved into an office there in March 2021. Julianna and Reed wanted an office with enough space to mitigate Covid concerns, something accessible without an elevator, away from FiDi (because it was so empty), with great light. It served us really well as a first office place but we definitely outgrew it quickly.
ALI: What were some of the key things you were looking for in a new office?
CASS: Logistically, we were looking for a central location, close to public transportation, with space for calls, conference rooms, something that was move-in ready and had lots of light. We wanted an all hands space to gather. And we wanted a place that we’d be excited and proud to share with our employees and customers and that would let us really invest in community building. That ties back to our perks and benefits philosophy, which is anchored in three pillars: community, productivity and growth. Having a nice office helps you build for those things. We want people to feel good being at Stytch. We want them to be able to do their best work. Physical environments are so important and having a nice place to work from can make you happier and more productive.
ALI: So true. Now that a lot of companies have gone fully remote, do you think about having an in-person office as being a competitive advantage?
CASS: Having an office is a huge recruiting advantage. We are hearing from a lot of our candidates that that’s something they’re looking for––work-life (physical) separation and socializing. A lot of younger people and new grads who I’ve spoken to are looking to build their community and build new connections and that often happens through work. You spend so much of your time there. And having a fully virtual company can really stifle that. But just because we have an office doesn’t mean that we’re a 5-days-in-the-office kind of place. We’re definitely hybrid and office-centric but we want to do it in a way that allows for flexibility. In a post-Covid world, working remotely might not be the right choice or fit for some people. We don’t want to exclude those folks, but in line with our “community building” perks philosophy we do want to encourage and provide resources for in-person gatherings and an office (we think) is an important part of that.
ALI: I totally agree. I’m a remote hire and I really appreciated that when I was interviewing, Reed and Julianna made it clear that I could travel to SF as much or as little as I wanted to. It really made an impact on me. I also love that they made office accommodations for those of us in and around the NYC area. It is so nice to have as an option. But enough about me, back to the office move–– tell us more about your journey to find 555 Montgomery.
CASS: We were really specific about what we wanted. We worked with JLL Reality and sent in our specs, so everything was in line with what we wanted. We saw 15-20 spaces over 2-3 big days of viewing, over the course of a few weeks. It was exhausting but also really fun. We saw a range of startup spaces and more commercial spaces (think popcorn ceilings, fluorescent lights, more corporate). We looked at a lot of historic buildings in SF, so it was cool to get that fresh perspective. One thing that we knew for sure, was that we wanted the space to feel good when the lights were off–like you could still do work.
ALI: Ok, so how did you know 555 Montgomery was “the one?” Did balloons come down from the ceiling?
CASS: Hah–no, but we did feel like the elevator doors opened and all of our eyes kind of lit up. 555 Montgomery just felt move-in ready.
ALI: Tell me more.
CASS: It’s 14,500 square feet–pretty big–on the 17th floor. It’s fully furnished. It has room for 150 desks. There are 12 conference rooms plus phone booths. A big all hands space. Windows all around. Picturesque views of Chinatown and North Beach. You can see the bay.
ALI: What are you most excited about?
CASS: The views! It just feels like a place I want to be. I could see myself staying here all night (not that that would be healthy). I’m excited for everyone else to see it today. I think they’ll be blown away. It’s surreal to look for a space as a 20 person company and imagine we’d have that many people. And now––we’re already at 40. I’m excited for it to fill up.
ALI: Shifting to the practical, any venders you’d recommend? Might be helpful to share.
CASS: We’re still in the process of settling into the new office, but totally. Here are the top vendors that come to mind:
ALI: What’s next?
Cass: I hope to make it feel more like our space. I want to loop in the design team and add our own touch, look and feel. Make it feel like Stytch. Other than that, while growing, I hope to not have to do another office move again for at least another couple of years! Maybe just an expansion to another floor…
Like what you hear? Good news––we’re hiring!