Video game company Riot Games Inc. is growing so fast that within months of leasing more than 47,000 square feet of space last year for a new headquarters, co-founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill needed to double the size before moving in.
That exponential growth is consistent with both the wild popularity of its “League of Legends” game that draws millions of online players – and its leasing history. Riot outgrew four Culver City offices in five years before it finally moved into its current 91,000-square-foot Santa Monica headquarters.
“We’ve consistently underestimated our need for space, so maybe it’s more of a (scientific wild ass guess) than an educated guess,” Beck said.
The co-founders have grown the company to more than 750 employees – or “rioters” as Beck calls them – from just 75 two years ago. That growth has necessitated some substantial real estate.
Most recently, the L.A. natives chose to move the company to Santa Monica for the ample space in Equity Office’s 1.1 million-square-foot Colorado Center. The office campus provides nearly 50,000-square-foot floor plates and easily modified interiors to suit most any company. The locale and amenities help.
“Santa Monica’s ocean breezes, famous pier, restaurants, shops and nightlife aren’t bad either. It’s nice to be near all of that,” Merrill said. “(But) the main focus for us is building an environment where teams can be productive and creative.”
The company installed glass-walled conference rooms around the office perimeter to allow in natural light and set up an open floor plan with seating in the center where all employees and executives work. The space is decorated in the company’s signature red, black, white and gray brand colors. It also has a large open space for the company to gather twice a month for a Show and Tell, which Merrill describes as “a raucous get-together where teams share what they’ve been up to and what’s coming up next.”
Riot is continuing to expand and push the boundaries of online gaming. It has received ample investments since it was founded six years ago. Most notably, Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Shenzhen, China-based Internet company, bought a majority stake in Riot last year for $400 million.
Beck has mixed feeling about the budding L.A. tech scene – noting “the grass is always greener on the other side” – but figures rivals in Silicon Valley might think the same way.
“The venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road probably wish they had actual sand underfoot, while Silicon Beach companies would probably be happy to trade some of our ambient awesomeness for a more mature and established venture and technology scene.”
There is no ambivalence, however, about his career choice.
“Once you’ve been paid to make video games, it’s hard to imagine wanting to do anything else,” he said.
– Jacquelyn Ryan
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