OpenAI names Tracy Hawkins new VP of real estate 

Hire comes months after artificial intelligence firm subleased Uber digs in San Francisco

OpenAI names Tracy Hawkins new vice president of real estate
OpenAI's Tracy Hawkins with 1455 and 1515 Third Street (LinkedIn, Google Maps, Getty)

OpenAI, after inking the biggest office lease in San Francisco in years, has hired someone to manage its growing real estate presence.

The San Francisco-based artificial intelligence firm has named Tracy Hawkins as its vice president of real estate and workplace services, the San Francisco Business Times reported. She started March 5.

Hawkins, a refugee of Twitter’s (now X’s) real estate division with more than 15 years in corporate real estate and facilities management, most recently worked as global head of workplace experience for Grammarly, a locally based typing automation program.

She described her new position at OpenAI as an opportunity to enable “cutting-edge advancements in artificial intelligence by shaping the future of workspaces and environments,”  according to a LinkedIn post.

She sets up her desk five months after OpenAI subleased 486,600 square feet of offices at 1455 and 1515 Third Street in Mission Bay. It was the largest office lease in San Francisco in five years, and among the largest ever.

Beyond its new offices in Mission Bay, OpenAI leases 37,000 square feet for its headquarters at 3180 18th Street, and 100,000 square feet of offices at 575 Florida Street. It also planned to expand its presence in Silicon Valley.

Then there are the real estate holdings of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Before he was out and back again, he spent $85 million on homes in San Francisco, Napa, and an estate in Hawaii.

The firm’s latest lease came during a mass exodus made by tech and other firms from Downtown San Francisco during a broad shift to remote work brought on during the pandemic. The office vacancy rate is now 35.6 percent.

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Hawkins had moved to San Francisco in 2013 from Twitter’s office in Dublin, Ireland, to lead the San Francisco-based firm through a period of physical expansion. She previously worked for Yahoo.

Her strengths include portfolio growth and rationalization, procurement of services, change management and workplace standards, according to her LinkedIn page. 

Hawkins also bills herself as a “remote and hybrid work thought leader.”

She was among six former Twitter employees who sued the social media company last spring after its takeover by Elon Musk, alleging the firm had failed to pay promised severance and violated San Francisco building codes.

Attorneys for Hawkins wrote that she was forced to resign after Musk and his transition team “fundamentally changed the nature of her job and threatened her professional reputation” by breaching its leases and, in some cases, refusing to pay rent to landlords. 

The alleged practice saw Twitter sued by its landlords in San Francisco and beyond.

— Dana Bartholomew

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