State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies: Offices Supporting Management

GREE, Inc. Prequel

June 2013

*This article is based on research conducted at an earlier date; some details may differ at the present time.

An Open, Flexible Office Concept That Creates a Sense of Unity

It has been almost two years since GREE, Inc., a company that continues to enjoy rapid growth, relocated to Roppongi Hills. Since its founding, the company has moved repeatedly, but always within the Roppongi area. Following the opening of its first U.S. subsidiary in January 2011, it has continued to establish bases in various countries worldwide and plans to push ahead with further global development going forward. We spoke to this leading SNS company about its devotion to its office concept.

GREE, Inc.

Project supervisors

Yoshihiko Fujimoto

Yoshihiko Fujimoto

Organizational Management Department Manager
Human Resources Division
GREE, Inc.

Keiichi Nonaga

Keiichi Nonaga

Organizational Management Department
Human Resources Division
GREE, Inc.

Company Overview

Following the launch of the GREE social networking service in February 2004, GREE, Inc. was established in December of the same year for the purpose of operating GREE.

Since then, it has grown its lineup of services, and today, having established itself in Japan and the U.S., it is moving forward with the creation of bases in various other countries, such as the U.K., Singapore, South Korea, China, and the Netherlands. In terms of scale, it has achieved rapid growth in just eight years since its founding, surpassing 30 million users in Japan and now expanding globally.

GREE’s Devotion to Roppongi and Its Office Concept Leads to Successful Relocation

At the time of its founding in 2004, GREE, Inc. started out in an office of just 10 tsubo (approx. 33m2/356ft2) or so. Subsequently, as its business has expanded and the number of employees increased along with it, it has continued to move offices within fairly short spans of time. GREE’s rapid growth is immediately apparent when you look at its corporate history, which we have extracted from the company’s website below.

February 2004

Founder Yoshikazu Tanaka launches alpha version of GREE as a personal website

March 2004

Number of GREE members reaches the 10,000 mark

December 2004

GREE, Inc. established for the purpose of operating GREE (starting from a 10 tsubo (approx. 33m2/356ft2) office)

July 2005

(Relocation to office with 50 tsubo (approx. 165m2/1,780ft2) of floor space)

November 2006

Release of EZ GREE

February 2007

GREE for mobile platforms becomes an official DoCoMo service

February 2007

(Relocation to office with 160 tsubo (approx. 530m2/5,690ft2) of floor space)

March 2007

Number of GREE members reaches the 1 million mark

March 2008

(Relocation to office with 400 tsubo (approx. 1,320m214,230ft2) of floor space)

December 2008

Listed on Mothers section of Tokyo Stock Exchange

April 2009

Number of GREE members reaches the 10 million mark

June 2010

Listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section

July 2010

(Relocation to office with 1,051 tsubo (approx. 3,470m2/37,400ft2) of floor space)

August 2010

Release of GREE for smartphones

January 2011

Establishment of U.S. subsidiary

July 2011

Establishment of Chinese subsidiary

September 2011

Announcement regarding establishment of subsidiaries in five countries: South Korea, Singapore, U.K., the Netherlands, and Brazil

April 2012

(Office expanded to 4,500 tsubo (approx. 14,880m2/160,125ft2) of floor space)

*Information in parentheses added independently by Sanko Estate

All the company’s moves have been between locations within the Roppongi area. For the latest relocation, besides the fact that the existing space was becoming too small due to the growing number of employees, other reasons for moving included strengthening the brand image for recruitment purposes and a greater need for security. Prior to the relocation, the office was 400 tsubo (approx. 1,320m214,230ft2) in size; afterward, it had more than doubled to 1,050 tsubo (approx. 3,470m2/37,400ft2). Two years have passed since the move to Roppongi Hills, and the company continues to enlarge its interior floor space due to the growth of its business and concomitant increase in employees. While GREE occupied one floor right after the relocation, it now uses around 3.4 floors. With a total of about 4,500 tsubo (approx. 14,880m2/160,125ft2), the floor space is now over ten times larger than what it was before the move.

Why is GREE so devoted to Roppongi?

“It’s because CEO Tanaka feels strongly about Roppongi. Since the time of the company’s founding, IT companies have been clustered from Shibuya to Roppongi. And he was convinced that it was Roppongi that would become the center for IT business.”

Some employees have made their homes in the Roppongi vicinity and commute to the office by bicycle or on foot, in part thanks to allowances for local residents offered by the company as a benefit. Consideration for these employees is another reason GREE has remained in Roppongi.

Next, we asked about the reason for selecting Roppongi Hills Mori Tower.

“From the outset, we were searching for a large one-floor office, and we initially considered a building other than Roppongi Hills. Then, when we consulted with Sanko Estate, the office brokerage firm we have dealt with since we began operations, about the vacancy situation, they provided us with information about not only that building but also lots of other office buildings in the Roppongi area where we would be able to obtain ample floor space. That included information about Roppongi Hills. Sanko Estate adjusted their schedule so that we could visit all the buildings and swiftly made arrangements. Ultimately, given the size of a single floor, the convenient access to the station, the security, and the fact that it’s a landmark of the area, we moved forward right away with verifying the lease conditions and so on for Roppongi Hills.”

The company was also glad that it had chosen Roppongi Hills after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, since it was able to conduct business as normal even during blackouts thanks to the building’s private generator.

What’s more, the building’s visibility has made a significant contribution when it comes to recruiting—along with the company’s own reputation, of course. As a result of the move, GREE has been able to attract a lot of top-quality personnel.

“We continue to be very satisfied with the Mori Building, which has allowed us to flexibly adapt to the rapid increase in personnel by expanding our floor space and so forth.”

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