When you commit to working at a startup, you sign up for long hours, often lower pay and the possibility of being shoehorned into cramped working conditions. At Zillow, we currently have 75 folks working in a space suited for 45. Let’s put it this way: You get to know each other (and everyone’s smelly lunch food) pretty quickly. I worked at another ground-floor startup in my so-called career –- Seattle Sidewalk, which is now CitySearch.com. I remember working in a closet –- literally -– elbow-to-elbow with two other people. I couldn’t get out of my chair unless the person behind me got out of their chair. It was like having a window seat on an airplane; if I needed to move, everyone needed to move. It’s not that bad here at Zillow, yet.
Despite the close quarters, the upside is that from the 41st floor some of us have pretty cool views of Elliott Bay, or Mt. Rainier… that is, unless we’re flirting with Seattle’s recent run at a 33-day rain record. The office I share with two Presentation Layer guys faces Mt. Rainier. It’s also in line with Qwest Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks) and Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners). From our window, we’ve seen guys parachuting into Qwest Field, a seagull being attacked by a raptor – in mid-air – military helicopters flying in formation over Qwest Field for Seahawks’ halftime entertainment, always an assortment of balloons floating up, up and away (like a life-size one of Santa Claus), planes flying by with messaging streaming from their tailfin (“I Love You Stacy, Please Marry Me. Brian”), traffic jams along I-5, and then news of a tugboat sinking in the port. We didn’t see it, but we feel like we’re in a perch to see it all.
The designers’ office has a telescope set up – usually to spot birds and whatnot, but sometimes we borrow it to look at the buildings of our downtown office buddies Amazon and Starbucks, where some of us have friends.