Posts for Tag: centrro

A few items... New offices and short AT&T stock now!

It's been a long time since my last regular post. Lots have happened since - we moved into new offices, almost went to court and got a pet that slowly learns how to talk. To recap...

Centrro moved into new offices around November-ish. Still in Jack London Square about 4 blocks from the old office. Cool building with interesting architecture. Below are some pics...

And a very inventive shelving system we built with the help of Ikea and the USPS.

As for the court thing. Our old landlords over at The Commons were refusing to return our security deposit for damages. Interestingly, not for damage to the actual suite itself but for scuff marks on the stairs. What's even more interesting is that we didn't use the stairs to move our things out since we're on the 3rd floor and would be crazy to haul our stuff down two flights of stairs when there's a perfectly good elevator. After some back and forth including a filing with small claims, they sent us a check minus some bullshit minor charges. I'm still pissed but have spent way more time on this issue than I wanted to so we're dropping the claim. For future reference, I do not recommend doing business with Equistone Partners or their building management firm LCB Associates, which showed a total lack of integrity throughout the process. Oh well, live and learn.

Lastly, when we moved into the Ironworks Building, we were a little miffed to learn that Comcast wasn't available as a data option. Basically only AT&T came into the building so we signed up for AT&T phone lines and DSL. BIG MISTAKE. First, the DSL service was horrible - completely unusable. 6MB down and less than 1MB up for 8+ computers brought everyone's connectivity to a crawl. We were using Ooma VOIP phones at the old office but switched to plain land lines to avoid data congestion but even without VOIP across the lines, the service was just way too slow. On top of everything, AT&T service is not cheap. DSL came in at about $29 a month and each of our 8 phone lines costed us about $55+. With tax and fees our monthly bill was running about $550. After much begging and pleading with our new landlords, we were able to get Comcast into the building. Nice fat 50MB down and 10MB up data connection and 8 digital voice lines. Total monthly cost? Less than $300. It blows my mind why AT&T's landline and DSL business are still around. Not only am I paying half as much for better service, AT&T customer service has got to be one of the worst I've encountered. Once my wireless contract is up, I'll be moving that over to Verizon, as well. Farewell and good riddance, AT&T.

Ooma Hub Installed! A story of redemptive Customer Service...

We were trying to figure out our office phone solution and wanted to get the most cost effective system. Traditional service from AT&T and VOIP providers like Vonage and Comcast seemed pretty cost prohibitive for business lines (about $35-$50 a month per line). I read about Ooma a while back and didn't really think much of them. At the time, it seemed like a case of too good to be true. Slowly, a few folks I knew started buying Ooma's and were getting great results. We figured it was a good solution to pay $200 or so once versus up to $600 every year for phone service.

We decided to dip our foot in the pool by getting a used Ooma Hub (versus a new Telo, the latest model). We found a great deal on eBay for under $200 and once the device arrived, we figured it was going to be a pretty easy setup. Alas, no. Since the Hub was previously owned, it was still registered to the previous owner and would not allow us to activate it. After a frustrating hour plus call with Ooma Customer Service, I still wasn't able to activate the phone and had to be escalated to Tier 2 for further assistance. I promptly wrote a harsh email to Ooma's PR department stating my disgust with their Customer Service.

What happened next is a classic story of how a company's image can be turned completely around after a horrible customer experience. Ooma's VP of Corporate Marketing responded very quickly and connected me directly to the head of the Customer Service group, Roy. I received a call from him the next day and he made no excuses to the poor service I had gotten and assured me he would personally handle my issue. Lo and behold, a couple of hours later I was able to activate my Ooma and Roy even followed up after he saw my activation to make sure everything was working properly. My opinion of Ooma as a company is probably higher now than it was before I bought the machine. We will probably setup all our employees with Ooma Telo's and will most likely get one for my home. With great people like Roy and Tami on the team coupled with a great product, I will have no reservations promoting their service to others.

Shots of the new office

So it took me a few days, but here are some shots of the new office. In the week or so that we've been here, the building was renamed from the original "The London Building" at 160 Franklin to now being known as "The Commons at Jack London Square" as to incorporate the three buildings on the block (160 Franklin, 140 Franklin, and 384 Embarcadero West). Here are some exterior shots of the new mural painted alongside the back of the three buildings:

As I said earlier, the inside is currently being renovated to reflect a more minimalistic industrial design. The great thing is the original brick is still maintained. Here are some hallway and stairwell shots.

Our suite is pretty simple. Couple of private offices and a large open area. We're not fans of private offices so we're using one as a conference room and another may house 2-3 folks. Our landlords at Equistone were nice enough to provide us with some desks, chairs, and a conference table. Still need to get some more desks for the open area and some whiteboards. Not entirely visible are the four large skylights that bathe the suite in natural light. For most of the day, we never turn on any of the fluorescents. That'll probably change as we enter the winter months but the spring/summer months should provide enough natural light for the entire day. An amazing suite in the building that was recently renovated has glass walls for each of the offices so the natural light flows from the ceiling and the office windows. Maybe if we expand, we'll ask for these TI's in our next space.

Part of the charm of the neighborhood is that we're in the heart of the Produce District. Below is a shot from our conference room of the warehouses just outside of the building. From midnight to about 10am, there is a bustling produce trade with goods being trucked in from all across California and the Port of Oakland. Small grocery store owners and restaurants come by to get their produce for the day. Taco trucks and other street food vendors set up shop during this busy time to support the workers in the area.

Finally, some pictures of our view outside of the conference room of Downtown Oakland and the Oakland Hills.