VENICE (CBSLA.com) – While Snapchat is set to go public at a valuation of billions of dollars, residents who live around its Venice headquarters are far from happy with the social networking company.
On Tuesday night, protesters converged on Snapchat’s headquarters. They blame the company for gobbling up commercial and private real estate, making Venice unaffordable and ruining its community feel.
“What do you expect to happen when you come in here and buy up a bunch of real estate and make prices higher and make absolutely no effort to meet anybody in the community or do anything for the community?” longtime Venice resident Patrick Davis told KCAL9.
Snapchat’s offices are spread across Venice. In one particular block of Market Street, not far from the beach, neighbors say buildings now owned by Snapchat used to house local cafés and galleries where neighbors shared in a community. Now they call this spot a ghost town.
“This is a graveyard; all these properties are gone and now belong to Snapchat,” one protester said.
However, not everyone is opposed to Snapchat.
“Snapchat revitalized the neighborhood, very much so,” said Michael Matoff, who owns a restaurant just a block from the headquarters.
“Your old school locals don’t want any kind of corporate change of any sort,” Matoff said. “They want everything to remain the way it’s been for a hundred years, which is impossible.”
Snapchat declined to comment on the controversy surrounding its headquarters, instead releasing this statement. It read in part:
“We don’t just have our headquarters here; many of us also call Venice home. We’ve been very grateful to be a part of this creative community for over the last four years and we’ve worked closely with local schools and nonprofits to be a good neighbor.”
According to the Associated Press, Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, is valuing itself at up to $22 billion ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering Thursday.