The recent Rs 300 crore-deal between Flipkart and Embassy Group for a new three million sq ft campus on the outer ring road of Bengaluru is a first for an internet business in India.
We have seen it in Silicon Valley. Yahoo moved into a 43-acre campus in Sunnyvale, California, in 2001, which was one of the first Internet companies to build state-of-art campuses in the US. Google's campus in nearby Mountain View, with cycling tracks, countless cafeterias, massaging rooms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, gyms and dancing studios, has taken campus designing several notches above.
Apple, which has a massive headquarters in Cupertino, California, is currently building its second campus in the vicinity which is nicknamed 'spaceship campus' because of its circular design. It's also touted to be the greenest building on the planet as 100 per cent of its power would be from renewable energy resources. Apple would set new standards in designing corporate campuses, not surprisingly, going by its own products.
In India, we have seen campuses being built by IT biggies like Infosys, Wipro and erstwhile Satyam Computers. Infosys's Bengaluru campus is spread over 36 million sq ft with its own cinema multiplexes, gyms, coffee shops and restaurants. (Thomas Friedman has opened his book The World Is Flat with a description of Infosys campus).
So, will Flipkart go the way of Yahoo, Google, and Apple or Infosys and Wipro in building a large office complex with enviable facilities for employees? Flipkart, which has 14,000 employees, is ambitious and wants to go down not just in India's but also in world's technology business history as a company that has redefined the way businesses are done. The company has talked of achieving $100 billion revenues in 10-15 years. It is likely Flipkart would want to set new standards in designing offices.
Flipkart is tight-lipped about its office plans. The e-commerce giant has signed a 10-year lease with Embassy group and will pay a rent of Rs 50 per sq ft for its three million sq ft space, which will be ready by 2017. The first stage of it, about 240,000 sq ft that can house 2,400 employees in the form of a plug and play, is expected to be delivered in November 2014. This will be next to the site of the new building.
According to sources, the company's founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are working with their creative-oriented colleague Mukesh Bansal, CEO of fashion e-retailer Myntra, in designing and furnishing the new office campus.
Campuses instil a sense of pride in employees, an Infosys employee confesses to VCCircle. Also vibrant colours, natural light, bean bags, sofas and swing sofas in offices encourage collaboration among employees. In fact, India's new age entrepreneurs have learned their lessons from places like Apple, Google and Amazon which seeded in them the importance of architecture for collaborative minds.
"The technology businesses in India want out of the box offices," says Nirav Kothari, resident director at Jones Lang LaSalle.
The Embassy Group believes that the building construction brief was to focus entirely on employees. "The technology entrepreneurs have always wanted open spaces. The office will be more collaborative than portray hierarchy," says Mike Holland, CEO of Embassy Office Parks.
He adds that Embassy will add facilities for community events in the campus, which will include sports and other cultural events. "We do at least 45 events in a year in such office parks," says Holland. Embassy Group has delivered offices for Yahoo, Microsoft and InMobi in Bengaluru.