Edmunds, the vehicle-shopping network that originated as a series of booklets with specs, is marking its 50thanniversary with new headquarters to rival any tech giant.
The multi-million dollar Santa Monica, Calif. office, designed by M+M Creative Studio, anchors the Colorado Center complex, shared by high-profile tenants such as Hulu and HBO. Edmunds opens its doors to the two-story, 143,000-square-foot “EdQuarters” this evening for its semi-annual all-company meeting, but my sneak peak last week suggested that Edmunds hit its mark.
When I arrived on Wednesday, the parking garage elevator opened directly into Edmunds’ vast central atrium, which looked more like a circus than an office. The open space, done up in oversized fonts and primary colors, caught the scent of popcorn budding from nearby carnival-style machines.
“This is Day Three,” said Edmunds C.E.O. Avi Steinlauf. “You’re looking at it.” Mounted overhead was a gravitational feat – 6,000 pounds of Corvette suspended from the second floor rotated – one from 1966, Edmunds’ founding year, and a 2016 model representing its golden anniversary.
But it’s not all fun and games. The new space has 55 conference rooms – a 75% increase over the old space across the street, which Edmunds occupied for 10 years – named after autos manufacturers, in alphabetical order. From Audi to Volkswagen, the rooms boast ample whiteboard space for brainstorming – 35 square feet per employee, to be exact. “I don’t know how many football fields that is, but it’s a lot,” Steinlauf said.
We walked through the maze of rooms until a stainless steel slide jutted into our path. A marketing manager named Dave called down to Steinlauf from the second floor. “I just got here,” he said, referring to the new EdQuarters. “I’m so in shock.” He mounted the slide and landed at our feet with a thud. “Wow, that thing is fast,” he said before casually heading to his next task. “Beautiful work.”
What’s most impressive about Edmunds’ new office is that everyone has a desk, but no one is required to sit at it. There’s the LED-lit, umbrella-shaded patio replete with water features and movie projectors, the expansive coffee bar with a frozen yogurt machine that’s proved especially popular, or a plethora of couches, armchairs and seats tucked away in serpentine nooks. Five of them even hang from the ceiling.
But employees aren’t even required to go into the office – ever. Edmunds’ results-only work environment (ROWE)guidelines stipulate that workers can stay at home, or travel Timbuktu, as long as they meet their obligations. But it’s hard to say which place promotes the most productivity. Undoubtedly, the new office boasts plenty of distractions. It has six phone booths for private calls, fragrant balconies replete with jacaranda and honeysuckle, and two 600-gallon saltwater fish tanks with coastal motifs. The East Coast aquarium includes replicas of the Empire State Building, Gateway Arch, and Willis Tower. The more relaxed West Coast aquarium has the Capital Records building, Santa Monica Pier, Space Needle, and Golden Gate Bridge.
Edmunds signed a 12-year lease, signifying it expects its mobile, social and sales businesses to thrive even as the automotive industry changes, heading toward ride-hailing services and autonomous systems. “We see it in a whole bunch of places that ought to generate growth,” Steinlauf said. “Every side of our business is growing now.
And if you’re interested, they’re hiring.