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Yammer plant their feet firmly in Tech City
21 September, 2012 - 08:40
The enterprise social networking company officially opened their offices in London this week with special guest HRH Duke of York cutting the tape.
This week Yammer opened their European offices in Tech City’s Great Eastern Street.
Complete with AstroTurf flooring and table football, guests at the opening represented an array of tech bods and industry experts. The open plan office was filled with bodies sipping on Yammer-blue themed cocktails.
Guest of honour was HRH Duke of York, as part of an ongoing commitment to promote the UK technology industry and London’s Tech City. His Royal Highness formally opened the enterprise social networking offices a stone’s throw away from Silicon Roundabout.
HRH Duke of York revealed he was an active user of Yammer, from team communications to arranging dinner parties for 200.
HRH eloquently suggested, “It’s not the customer that has to be right all the time but the customer experience that has to be right.”
We spoke to General Manager Georg Ell to find out the motives for expansion and their decision to put foundations down in Tech City.
SC: So what was behind the new office move?
GE: We’ve been in Europe for 18 months. Three of us started working in each other’s living rooms, then we went to Tech Hub on Old Street Roundabout. We were just growing so quickly, first we were looking for a space of 15, then 45 then 120!
It was difficult to know exactly where the line was going to land. We spent almost a year in serviced offices on Great Eastern Street at 64 initially with one room, then two, and then across the corridor and then the floor! We were the cuckoo, we ended up pushing all the other guys out, in the nicest possible way. We moved from there finally into this place, 8 Great Eastern Street, in August. We’ve stayed within 200 metres of Old Street Roundabout, where we first landed in Europe.
SC: Was the move to Tech City a conscious decision?
GE: Yes, very much so. When we wanted to open up a European office, we wanted an office in the UK, in London. Then the question was where in London? Very quickly we looked at Tech City, Silicon Roundabout and the whole area and we decided very quickly that this was the right space. It was a burgeoning community that has just got richer and richer in terms of the companies and people that are here.
Our ability, as initially a very small unit of just 3 people, to learn from others and share our own experiences with them as we’ve grown has been really rewarding. It probably helped us avoid some mistakes along the way. Hopefully we can help others too.
This whole area is a lightening rod for great talent; for good developers, engineers, for entrepreneurial people in general whether they’re in sales or marketing and then also for the press. The world’s media is also very focused on what’s going on here.
SC: What does it mean to Yammer to be in East London?
GE: Yammer has been called an anchor business of Tech City by Tech Crunch. We like that title and we want to live up to that. Now we’ve been acquired by Microsoft, that means we are Microsoft’s office in Tech City. It’s quite an exciting development for them as well as for us. Together we can start to bring the opportunities that being part of a much bigger ecosystem provides, to the work that we do here. And our hope is to do that actually in this building; we’ve signed the lease of the third floor and we we’re kitting that out.
We’re going to try and use that space to bring people in to interact with us in lots of interesting ways. We’ll try and continue to play our part in Tech City.
SC: What’s the value of Tech Hub and similar projects?
GE: Really important. So when we started here in Europe, Yammer had 17 employees all of which were in San Francisco. There were just three of us here. I remember going to the Apple store to buy a machine and went down the high street to buy my phone - we didn’t have an office. Tech Hub was our first office. If you’re three people entirely on your own the situation is actually very similar to us as three people with a US parent. Places like Tech Hub, The Trampery and Google Campus provide really important landing spots for small companies just to get their feet. Perhaps most importantly is the community aspect and the ability to learn from each other.
SC: So now you’re of a considerable size in Tech City; do you plan to give back?
GE: That is absolutely our intention. Just a few weeks ago we hosted a dinner between us and London Partners, for about 20 of the general managers of the different companies in the area. It provided the opportunity them to talk to one another.
On the third floor, we have some really interesting opportunities with the way that space is being laid out. We can be quite innovative in the way we think about using and sharing the space.
We’re involved in Seedcamp as well, we send mentors along to that. We have been sending engineers to do speaking events at other non-for-profit organisations associated with developing local IT tech skills in those areas.
There’s a number of ways we’re getting involved. Watch this space.
Yammer are sponsoring simplySMILE, Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise, on October 1st. To find out more visit simplySMILE2012.com
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