Inside the Super Secret Obvious Corporation HQ

Fancy things to drink and lovely adjustable desks abound.

  • Not much is known about the Obvious Corporation, the new-ish, incubator-ish company that’s the brainchild of Twitter cofounders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Their website is sparse and coy: the only companies that they are publicly known to be working with are Lift, a social network for human potential, and dialogue platform Branch. They also announced this week that they’d invested in Neighborland, a site that seeks to create meaningful connections between neighbors.

    The Obvious Offices are located in downtown San Francisco, near the Powell St. BART stop, just around the corner from the Apple store, which is convenient because everyone at Obvious uses Apple products. Macbook Airs, iPads, Magic Mice and Apple wireless keyboards: Tim Cook would not be disappointed.

    The space is pretty much exactly what you’d expect a well-regarded San Francisco startup office to look like. It has that modern, industrial feel that is all cool California class: cement walls frame six foot glass windows, fat, exposed pipes and air ducts snake across the ceiling.

    On the 8th floor of a building that also includes car service startup Uber, it’s a beautiful office with a beautiful view of downtown San Francisco, but the Obvious employees don’t seem to notice. It is quiet, they are heads down, almost all of the shades yanked down fully to shield the sun from splashing a glare across their monitors.

    Josh Miller, the cofounder of Branch, shows us around the office. It is very quiet–you can tell everyone is intensely focused on whatever they’re working on. Some are sitting, some are standing: the matching desks, which are white and shiny and expensive-looking, are adjustable, so you can sit for one part of the day and stand for another.

    We Skype this to our editor. “Of course they have adjustable desks,” she shoots back. We are definitely jealous.

    Mr. Miller leads us to the end of the office, where a conference room full of windows gives us a breathtaking panoramic view of all of downtown San Francisco. If you look down there, you can kind of see the ferry building, he says. We squint: there it is!

    When we look away from the view, Mr. Miller points out the fully-stocked premium wet bar that occupies one wall of the conference room. Top shelf liquors span the bar, and there is a moment where we feel intimidated by their labels: for Mr. Miller, who is just 21, Vladi’s or Franzia is more his style, he jokes.

    Finally we settle into another conference room with large windows. There are racks for employees to hang their bikes on. Next to it, one lonely razor scooter–who would ride a razor scooter to work?–hangs sullenly.

    “They have a fully stocked wet bar!” we Skype to our editor.

    “So does the Observer,” she writes back.

    “Nah, just kidding.”

    Click through the slideshow to see some snaps of the Obvious digs.

  • The view from one of the conference rooms.

/Innovation

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