You might be hearing talk of depressed valuations, but that message certainly isn’t reaching commercial real estate owners in the Bay Area. The median price per square foot to rent office space in the city has shot up 33.7 percent in just the last three months alone, says Loopnet, an online real estate resource. Over the last 12 months, San Francisco rents have soared 106 percent.
It’s easy to throw up one’s hands at that the situation. Aspect Ventures, a year-old, early-stage venture firm founded by longtime VCs Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw, is instead using the trend to its advantage by renting up to 20 desks in its own, 2,600-square-foot headquarters in San Francisco. It’s charging market rates, too.
It’s a smart move on a number of levels. First and most obviously, it helps Aspect defray its own costs, which can’t be inexpensive given current prices. According to real estate specialist Jones Lang LaSalle, average office rent in San Francisco has hit a whopping $70 per square foot.
Aspect, which closed its debut fund with $150 million last year, is also willing to rent the desks to both startups it has backed and those it might fund in the future, which allows it to see more young companies up close.
That’s harder to do than you might think.
(Photo courtesy of Aspect Ventures. From left: cofounder Theresia Gouw, principal Lauren Kolodny, cofounder Jennifer Fonstad, and associate Kamil Saeid.)