Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are buildings necessary? (with a little Minnesota Lutheran parody)

Everyone tells us that we live in a virtual world, and that location really doesn't matter. Then in the next breath we hear that some company or person doesn't matter because the company/person isn't located in the right place.

Take, for example, former TechCrunch writer Paul Carr. Carr's former employer talks about all sorts of startups who promote a virtual presence via social media, but Carr himself appears to be a Luddite when he rants about Michael Arrington's replacement, Erick Schonfeld:

Mike felt that current Senior Editor Sarah Lacy might be a better choice: she has the right personality — and sources — for the job and she actually lives in Silicon Valley (Erick is based in New York). Unfortunately she’s also away for four months, on maternity leave....

Putting aside my professional feelings towards Erick — and I’ve been writing about those for a long time — the notion that a Silicon Valley blog should be run by a guy in New York is just ludicrous. As such, Huffington’s short-term victory is likely to prove a medium and long term disaster.

Oddly enough, Carr didn't appear to mind that Schonfeld's predecessor didn't live in Silicon Valley either. But I digress.

At the end of the day, location is important. Even if you have the best videoconferencing equipment - and most of us don't - a virtual presence cannot substitute for a physical one.

One of the benefits of a physical presence is that you have, in the words of George Carlin, a place for your stuff. While some argue that acquisition of buildings and land can distract a person or organization from its true mission, it can be argued that business acquisition, when done correctly, can enhance the mission.

But to humor those who think that building ownership is a waste of money, I've prepared a resolution just for you (note the date, which was chosen with care):


September 31, 2011

Resolved, that the Treasurer of the District effectuate the sale of the District's headquarters property at 14301 Grand Avenue South, Burnsville, MN 55306 under the following conditions:

1) The district retain a broker for the purpose of selling the District's headquarters property for the highest market price available.
2) The Treasurer is authorized to negotiate terms of the listing agreement on behalf of the board without further ratification.

Most of you won't realize this, but this is a parody of the District's unanimously-passed September 13 resolution (PDF) to sell the University Lutheran Chapel and some property in Mankato. The resolutionis obviously of concern to the members of the University Lutheran Chapel itself, and they have mounted a campaign to "save our chapel."

It stands to reason that if it is a net good for the Minnesota South District to sell the campus properties to enhance their campus outreach, wouldn't sale of their own headquarters enhance their overall outreach?

All fun aside, there are obviously times when a physical location provides a benefit. Now I'll admit that Empoprises does not have a plush suite of corporate offices (no, we do not have offices at 1 Empire Way Suite 2525, Guasti, California 91743). But rest assured that if Empoprises ever needs offices to complete its mission, I will acquire them.

Much larger enterprises DO devote some time to thinking about their physical presence. Apple is developing its second campus, and is starting to think about its third. According to accounts, Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas is not quite as inspirational. But at least they have a place to put their stuff.
blog comments powered by Disqus