HomeAway’s big Austin ambitions: Global HQ inside a gleaming new high-rise with room for 2,000 employees

Will Anderson |
Source: Austin Business Journal

HomeAway.com Inc., the Austin-based vacation rental company, is adding hundreds of employees in its hometown and plans to move its global headquarters to a 16-story tower in The Domain within the next two years.

It has signed a lease for the entire 315,000-square-foot Domain 11 tower, under development by Endeavor Real Estate Group and Tier REIT. HomeAway said the building will have room for more than 2,000 employees.

HomeAway Inc. has leased all 315,000 square feet of the Domain 11 high-rise, which is… more Gensler

The homegrown consumer technology company is “doubling down” on Austin, company executives said in a Thursday announcement. The lease also represents a big win for Endeavor and Tier REIT, which have landed a high-profile tenant for their North Austin office tower in The Domain — which has emerged as a second commercial center outside of downtown.

HomeAway, which already has about 1,500 workers in Austin, has grown its headcount here by 50 percent the past two years. Its former CEO, Brian Sharples, told Austin Business Journal earlier this month that its 2015 buyout by Expedia Inc. had led to a hiring surge.

Sharples told the ABJ last year when he was no longer running the company that he would have preferred to expand downtown rather than setting up a North Austin site — managers often like a consolidated staff — but lack of parking downtown for thousands of employees forced the company to look elsewhere.

John Kim, an Expedia executive who was made chief commerce officer at HomeAway in 2016, now leads the company with the title of president. Expedia paid $3.9 billion for HomeAway, which has seen revenue continue to grow rapidly under private ownership. HomeAway says its vacation rental platform is the world’s largest, with some 1.4 million properties in 190 countries.

Domain 11 will house HomeAway’s product and design, engineering and information technology teams. The company said it plans to maintain its downtown and South Austin offices as well.

“Austin employees are critical to our global growth and success,” Kim said in a statement. “Our transition from a sales-driven advertising platform to a tech-driven e-commerce business is already paying off, as our owners and property managers generated $2.7 billion in gross bookings during the first quarter of 2017, nearly 50 percent more vacation rental gross bookings compared to the same time last year.”

HomeAway execs also played up the amenities that will available for employees at the new HQ, including bike storage, outdoor balconies, an outdoor lawn for meetings and workouts, showers and lockers, plus easy access to the nearby Whole Foods Market Inc. store and all of The Domain’s retail and restaurant options.

Domain 11 is one of two towers under construction at the north end of the mixed-use development, near Domain Drive and Alterra Parkway, that will be its tallest yet when completed. Construction on Domain 11 could start within 60 to 90 days, the Austin-American Statesman reports. Gensler is the architect for Domain 11, Rios Clementi Hale Studios of Los Angeles led the interior architecture/design and DPR Construction Inc. is the general contractor