A Technologist’s Guide to: Los Angeles
Beaches, blockbusters, and…billion-dollar startups? The City of Angels is finally coming into its own as a technology hub, and Silicon Valley has noticed.
California has always been a bit of an obsession for the tech industry, but most of the attention has been focused in a northerly direction. That’s slowly changing: Los Angeles is coming into its own as a tech hub. When Cornerstone OnDemand, a local business-software company, went public in 2011 and quickly reached a $1 billion market cap, “people realized that this is for real,” says founder and CEO Adam Miller. “It became socially acceptable to work in tech in L.A.”
Take Snapchat, for example. The mobile-messaging company plans to increase its 6,000-square-foot footprint in Venice, Calif., to a size befitting a company valued at $15 billion. It will lease up to three separate office spaces—all within a short cruiser bike ride of one another—for more than 10 times its original space. And that’s just in L.A. Several major tech companies, including Google and Yahoo, are building a bigger presence in Southern California. Hundreds of smaller startups have set up shop in the five-mile corridor that stretches from Santa Monica to Playa Vista—Silicon Beach, as it’s called, though most locals find the moniker ridiculous.
With endless sunshine and Hollywood glamour, it’s a wonder that it’s taken this long for L.A. to experience a bona fide tech boom. (Why shiver through a San Francisco summer when you can join a Malibu pool party?) Whatever the case, tech entrepreneurs are increasingly moving to L.A. Here’s where they’ve taken up residence.
57 Windward Ave., Venice
This 10,000-plus-square-foot compound, dubbed the Fortress, was once owned by actress Anjelica Huston. Today it’s home to this anonymous-messaging company, armed with some $60 million in funding. Running business operations out of a house? Typical L.A. cool: Snapchat’s first digs in Venice were in a beachfront bungalow.
619 Ocean Front Walk, Venice
The blink-and-it’s-gone messaging company has grown out of its 6,000-square-foot space at 63 Market St. and plans to add over three times the space at the beachfront Thornton Lofts. Another 40,000 square feet at Venice Village—to house its product designers, engineers, and business analysts—is rumored.
5600 Campus Center Dr., Playa Vista
Google’s first L.A. home is located in the Frank Gehry–designed Binoculars Building at 340 Main St. in Venice, two blocks from the beach. Not a bad spot to create digital ad platforms—but the view may soon change. Google spent nearly $120 million to buy 12 vacant acres in neighboring Playa Vista. As part of the purchase, it picked up the hangar where Howard Hughes built his famous “Spruce Goose” airplane.
1916 Main St., Santa Monica
The social networking platform’s new office is home to its brand strategy, sales, and media operations and is located just two blocks from the beach. #sojealous #lunchtimesurfing
5. Cornerstone OnDemand
1601 Cloverfield Blvd., Santa Monica
At 16 years old, this business software firm isn’t the buzziest of the bunch, but it’s using its social currency to play host to the annual L.A. Tech Summit to highlight the local tech scene. Another resident of its office complex? Beats Electronics.
6,7,8,9. Facebook, YouTube, Belkin, and Icann
The Campus, East Waterfront Dr., Playa Vista
All of these companies are renters at this new office park, built in what is essentially a planned community for the tech set. (A massive Whole Foods sets the tone.) Here Facebook focuses on developing its film and publishing partnerships, and YouTube lets creators use its production resources (including stages and sets) to make films. Don’t let the street name fool you—the ocean is miles away.
The Collective, West Bluff Creek Dr., Playa Vista
So long, Santa Monica. In January, Yahoo announced that it would vacate its old office to lease 130,000 square feet in this new Playa Vista complex, which is expected to house its sales and media departments.
13031 W. Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista
The Seattle tech giant opened this center to serve as a classroom for business professionals to evaluate products they’re considering buying for their companies.
8899 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood
The matchmaker app’s engineering and executive teams call West Hollywood home in a 10-story adaptive reuse building. Swipe right for a killer location in the center of one of L.A.’s hippest ’hoods.
13. Oculus VR
19800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine
The virtual-reality pioneer has relocated its headquarters (and top executives) to Menlo Park, a nod to new owner Facebook. But this office continues to be a part of L.A.’s fabric.
And don't forget the founders
Tech company founders may have made their fortunes up north, but they’ve taken to spending it in L.A. Oracle’s Larry Ellison owns some 10 houses in Malibu, including a handful of properties along Billionaires’ Beach. At last count, Tesla’s Elon Musk owns two Bel Air mansions across the street from each other that he picked up for $17 million and $6.75 million. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plunked down $24.5 million for a seven-bedroom pad in Beverly Hills. Entrepreneur Sean Parker raised the stakes with his $55 million purchase of the prized Brody House in Holmby Hills last year. Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, who sold his company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014, recently bought a $70 million Beverly Hills compound that has 15 bathrooms, each of which contains a $5,600 Toto Neorest toilet. (Hey, it’s nice to have options.)
This story is from the June 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine and originally appeared at Fortune.com.