A few short years ago, LivingSocial was the pride of the D.C. tech scene. The web coupon shop gobbled up young talent and downtown real estate, opening up a metastasizing array of offices with such amenities as a speakeasy and a ball pit. Mayor Vince Gray could hardly make a speech without delivering a triumphant applause-inducing line about the company's success.
And then it all came crashing down. LivingSocial posted nine-figure losses in 2012 and 2013. Layoffs followed layoffs. Plans for a big headquarters in a forthcoming New York Avenue NW development were scrapped, and then existing offices began to close.
But what might have seemed like a huge loss for D.C.'s burgeoning tech scene actually presented an opportunity for other startups—firms that may have a brighter future than LivingSocial.
Take Tahzoo. The four-and-a-half-year-old company, which manages customer experience for Fortune 500 firms, officially opened the doors to its new headquarters this week, at 1005 7th St. NW. The LivingSocial sign that used to adorn that building's facade is gone, replaced by a faux-cursive "Tahzoo."
Entering the office prior to the Wednesday open house, the first thing I hear is the unmistakable pop of a ping-pong ball. Tahzoo CEO Brad Heidemann is wrapping up a game with his brother, also a Tahzoo employee. The new space is much larger than the Georgetown office from which Tahzoo moved—about 12,000 square feet, versus 3,300—giving the 50 workers at the headquarters much more room to spread out and finally making room for the all-important ping-pong table.
Tahzoo's still getting set up at the new office. But there wasn't all that much work to do. The company put in a few new walls and added couches and other furniture. "They were a little more, white desks and phones for everyone," Heidemann says of LivingSocial. Mostly, though, the space, leased from LivingSocial, was ready-made for a tech company to move in.
When I ask Heidemann whether LivingSocial's consolidation and departure from the 7th Street building helped his company out, he gives me a look that says, That's a dumb question. "I got Class A space at a fraction of the price, and I didn't have to do any work building it out!"