Insight

Fitbit to open R&D office in San Diego

July 29, 2015

Fitbit is starting to recruit engineers for a new research and development office it plans to open in San Diego, potentially marking the company’s expansion into 10 cities worldwide.

The news comes weeks after the fast-growing, venture-backed startup saw a successful public offering and announced plans to expand its San Francisco headquarters.

Fitbit (NYSE: FIT), founded in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman, is a dominant player in the wearable device market, trailed by the Apple Watch. It’s known for devices that can be worn on wrists or clipped onto clothing that track steps, movement and sleeping patterns to gauge overall activity and health.

Fitbit was quiet about details on the office or its growth plans in advance of its second quarter financial results, set to be announced Aug. 5. The company’s quiet period ended Tuesday.

“There’s no doubt they’re coming,” said Don Mitchell, managing partner at Cresa. Details about a timeline were not available.

Cresa, a tenant’s brokerage, began looking for spaces for Fitbit in early May, though the process was briefly interrupted by the company’s June 18 IPO.

Fitbit, headquartered in San Francisco’s South Financial District, has eight additional offices, with just one other in the United States — Boston. The rest are abroad: Dublin; Hong Kong; Shanghai; Seoul, South Korea; Minsk, Belarus; New Delhi; and Tokyo.

The company is looking for about 15,000 square feet of creative open office space along the Interstate 15 corridor, Mitchell said. Three locations are currently under consideration. Cresa has completed economic evaluations and is about to request proposals.

“San Diego is a recognized center of engineering excellence and we’re looking to build out a large presence and expand our team with the goal of replicating our culture and mission to make the world a healthier, more active place,” the company said in a statement.

Fitbit has listed a job posting online for a firmware recruiter, and will hire at least a dozen engineers.

There’s a team in place already in San Diego in a temporary office space, a spokeswoman said. The company wants to look for a permanent space “aligned with our fun and fit office culture.”

Employee benefits include competitive salaries, weekly catered lunches, fully stocked kitchens, flexible schedules, free Fitbit products and company-sponsored exercise classes.

Mitchell said there’s anticipation that Fitbit could outgrow that San Diego space quickly, based on its rapid growth.

According to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company last month entered a $96.3 million, nine-year lease for a 164,000-square-foot space at 199 Fremont St. in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Business Times reports that Fitbit’s office footprint will grow by 154 percent in its new space, and will now lease a total of 254,000 square feet in the city.

Fitbit’s initial public offering was among the most anticipated of the year. Shares were priced at $20, surged 50 percent on its first day and closed at $45.46 Tuesday.