A tour inside Twitter’s new Australian headquarters

Courtesy of the Australian Business Review:

Beach themes, sandstone textures and timber grains are signature features of Twitter’s spacious new Australian headquarters that has opened in Sydney.

If you had imagined that Twitter’s HQ would be an overwhelming tech affair, with dozens of displays with tweets with various hashtags freely flowing up screens, a kind of stock exchange of hashtag activity on the Australian internet, and cables running everywhere — you’d be sorely disappointed.

Sure there is provision for hundreds of workstations in its open-plan office, of which it seems only a fraction are occupied.

Maria Catanzariti, Twitter’s Australian communications manager, said there were about 50 staff to date and the intention is to grow numbers without another refit or move.

Outside of that, the technology is secluded and you’re left with a decidedly non-geeky environment, more a corporate fashion statement, an elegant place decked out with artworks and photographs and meeting rooms named after beaches such as Bondi, Manly, Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay.

There’s some recreational spots and chill-out areas but it’s less alternative compared with Google’s Australian headquarters, and looks like it belongs in the 21st century rather than having the 23rd century appeal of Adobe’s Australian HQ.

There’s a Blue Room, a take on the Green Room idea, for special guests such as musicians and politicians. They can use the facilities to get out their message on the social network. There’s training rooms, small meeting spaces, and a mother’s’ room, and a “micro-kitchen”.

In case you wrongly think this US company isn’t Aussie savvy, the kitchen is stocked with local delights such as Tim Tams and Mint Slices. And to give things a human touch, staff photos are arranged on a wall in the shape of a heart.

It still has the modern media office staple of a table tennis table for whiling away precious moment between tweets, and a gaming area with an arcade game and Microsoft Xbox.

There’s also a row of donated bats with the #putoutourbats hashtag — remembering the tragic death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, which sparked a massive social media tribute.

Everyone including the managing director works in the open office.

Twitter is a cornerstone of today’s internet but when it comes to its physical location in Australia, it has been something of a nomad within that one building.

Just over two years ago Twitter was huddled in a corner office with five staff members on level 39 of the Citigroup Centre in Park Street. It then moved downstairs to floor 13 from where its staff spent a year plotting to ascend back to level 39 to claim the entire floor space, in an environment more befitting a regional headquarters.

Twitter’s Australian activities are mostly confined to promotions and marketing rather than software development and policing the Twittersphere.

There’s a sales team that deals with paid content, a partnership team that works with newsmakers such as politicians, sporting personalities, musicians and other performers. The team helps develop content and arrange Q and As. There’s also a public policy/communications team, and a brand strategy team.

Staff help out monitoring Twitter for problematic content on the platform, but that is done mainly by others across the globe. You can follow the office launch using the #spreadourwings hashtag.

Twitter also has announced new web browser homepages for twitter.com for 21 countries including Australia.

Users can explore tweets by accessing an extensive list of subjects. Those subjects will include breaking news stories and play-by-play discussions about games. You need to log out to access the new homepage and it’s only available through browsers, not the Twitter app.