OAKLAND — Credit Karma has decided to shift its headquarters from San Francisco to the same downtown Oakland office tower where it had already leased a big chunk of space, the fast-growing tech firm told this news organization Monday.
The decision by Credit Karma to move to downtown Oakland deals a fresh blow to San Francisco, whose economy and office markets are reeling from layoffs, corporate exits, a sour business climate, and an increase in office vacancies.
The dynamic tech firm, which specializes in financial services, had previously disclosed that it had struck a deal to rent space in The Key at 12th, a new office complex in downtown Oakland.
“Credit Karma had always planned to build out our footprint in Oakland given a number of appealing characteristics, not least of which being the cost efficiencies for us as a company and for our employees to live,” Colleen McCreary, chief people officer with Credit Karma, said in emailed comments.
That announcement was made roughly 18 months ago, well before the coronavirus had ushered in an array of economic uncertainties, including just how much office space companies might need — as well as the most cost-effective and efficient locations for such offices.
“The pandemic accelerated those expansion plans and we determined it made the most sense for our company and employees to consolidate into one location,” McCreary said.
The headquarters relocation was embraced swiftly by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“It’s great to see an international company like Credit Karma move their headquarters to call Oakland home,” Schaaf said. “It’s a testament to Oakland’s ongoing appeal to today’s workforce as a great place to do business.”
The decision by Credit Karma is a hit to San Francisco’s economy and commercial real estate market.
Just a few months ago, PG&E disclosed it had decided to move its headquarters out of San Francisco and establish its head offices at a landmark tower perched on the shores of Lake Merritt.
Credit Karma leased 106,000 square feet in The Key at 12th complex. The leasing deal includes five floors plus a roof deck. That amount of office space could potentially accommodate 500 workers. Ellis Partners is the project’s developer.
The tech firm believes that a downtown Oakland location next to a BART stop will enable the company to tap an East Bay talent pool as well as offer a location near the residences of a large number of its workers.
“Oakland was attractive to us for a number of reasons,” McCreary said.
The company said it undertook wide-ranging research efforts before it decided to move the headquarters out of San Francisco and into Oakland.
“Outside of San Francisco, the East Bay has the largest number of Credit Karma employees and it’s where the talent we want to hire live,” McCreary said. “There are also significant cost savings for operating a business and in the cost of living in Oakland versus San Francisco.”
Oakland’s mayor believes her city’s downtown is well-positioned to thrive once the coronavirus difficulties fade.
“Coupled with PG&E’s recent announcement, we’re looking forward to a bustling and dynamic downtown once it’s all safe for everyone to return,” Schaaf said.