Wattpad‘s street-level entrance opens to a narrow staircase, climbing to a humble sign-in tablet. The inconspicuous location is much like the company itself: Quiet but impressive. If you don’t know where to look, you might miss it altogether and that would be too bad because there is a whole lot going on here.
Wattpad was founded by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen in 2006 and has since grown to over 115 employees. It is primarily a storytelling community built on both web and native apps. Since its launch users have posted over 200 million articles, stories, fan fiction, and poems. In one month 45 million users will visit the platform to read 250 million hours worth of content in more than 50 different languages–think about that for a second.
Wattpad’s headquarters are tucked in Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market district across from the iconic Gooderham Flatiron. They occupy the top three floors of the Hutchison Building, built in 1855. Notable former tenants include a bank, cigar manufacturer Eichhorn & Carpenter, and most apt to Wattpad’s current mission, a printing house and publisher.
The 15,000 square foot open-concept space was designed by Mette Designs in 2014. The raw brick and beam is balanced with modern materials and bright colours. The sense of a startup is still very strong as HD screens display the latest stats and flop pads appear in every corner.
This is an unorthodox space that speaks to the nature of startups and disruption. You’re forced to think differently from the moment you walk into the office.”
— Allen Lau, Wattpad co-founder and CEO
Most walls double as white boards for brainstorming, release plans and scheduling. The office includes several commissioned art pieces including renowned Graffiti Artist SKAM. Others are covered with inspiring ideas from either Wattpad stories, thought leaders and the founders themselves.
Half of the Wattpad’s team is technical; the rest are split across various business teams. Developers work from the lower floor and business teams upstairs, though everyone is encourage to find a place that is best for them. Whether it’s working from a hammock, the rooftop patio or just working from home, staffers are encouraged to find a place that they are the most comfortable and effective. ‘Hack Fridays’ occur once per month when everyone, regardless of expertise, is encouraged to work an any project that pushes their thinking outside the box.
The second floor holds several break-out ‘Reading Rooms’, each named after popular Wattpad pieces, so you may get a meeting invite to The Kissing Booth in your calendar. These rooms were intentionally designed to fit only 2 – 3 people, discouraging unnecessary meetings to instead encourage brief stand-ups when and where required.
The Kitchen is a truly epic space. Natural light floods through the skylights of the vaulted ceilings. The cupboards boast snacks, fair-trade coffee and aprés work beverages, all adjacent to the gaming projector screen which doubles as a cinema for the occasionally movie screenings. It is here where casual Friday afternoons parle into casual Friday nights as teams celebrate the week.
Adjoining the kitchen is the Wattpad Story Tree: A giant custom-built art installation created by Heather Rigby which features leaves that reference popular Wattpad stories. The ‘trunk’ is a bookshelf filled with published books that began as Wattpad submissions. Beyond the tree is a massive mezzanine; an impressive structure that creates several cozy corners which see frequent use by teams working or just an escape to curl up and read.
No self-respecting tech office would be complete without the foosball and pingpong tables, though in this case the table doubles as a boardroom. It is widely known in the office that any booking of the pingpong boardroom is sacred, regardless of anyones interpretation of “more important work”. There are several after-work clubs including knitting, yoga, and even Salsa dancing which happens to be taught by one of Wattpad’s Android Developers. And of course the quaint but impressive rooftop patio serves as yet another escape for either work or play, and yes there’s wifi.
If you’re interested in making Wattpad your own office, check out their current career opportunities.
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