Miami tech boom accelerates as Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund lands in Wynwood
03.30.2021 | The Miami Herald

Miami tech boom accelerates as Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund lands in Wynwood

If there was any doubt about the willingness of some of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms to make Miami their new home base, they may be put to rest now.

Founders Fund, the multi-billion dollar venture capital firm led by PayPal co-founder (and new Venetian Islands homeowner) Peter Thiel, announced Tuesday it has signed a multi-year lease at the Wynwood Annex, the recently completed class-A office tower developed by Jorge Pérez’s Related Group along with real estate group East End Capital.

Founders Fund’s lease will accompany ones being signed by Atomic, a venture capital and startup building firm led by Jack Abraham, a serial entrepreneur already living in Miami; and OpenStore, a new company led by Founders Fund’s Keith Rabois. The leases total more than 22,000 square feet — housing as many as 50 workers — within the Wynwood Annex, encompassing three full floors, with commitments extending up to 10 years.

According to an interview Abraham gave to Fortune magazine, OpenStore is aiming to capitalize on the “non-Amazon” part of e-commerce, especially more boutique retailers.

“We have plans to scale massively in Miami and make OpenStore the largest company in the city’s history,” Abraham told Fortune, adding that OpenStore is one of three startups Atomic is currently working on out of Miami.

In a statement to the Miami Herald, Abraham said: “Miami is the perfect city to start the next generation of technology companies, such as OpenStore. It’s incredibly diverse with amazing entrepreneurial talent, and Atomic plans to invest and scale significantly here.”

Founders Fund previously signed a one-year lease in Brickell; the new lease represents a long-term commitment to the city. The news represents another marquee relocation in a city now awash in them. Since global real estate giant Blackstone announced it was opening an office in Miami, the city has seen Miami announcements from firms including Microsoft, Barry’s Bootcamp, Point72 and Subway. They join a list of firms, especially ones in finance, that had announced Miami moves earlier in 2020.

“The signing of leases by Founders Fund, Atomic and OpenStore in Wynwood is proof that Miami is well on the way to becoming the capitol of capital,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez in a statement. “I am excited about all of the opportunities for impact that will be unlocked for founders, job seekers and innovators as a result of the arrival of these iconic firms to Miami.”

Added Jon Paul Pérez, president of Related Group, in a statement: “Wynwood’s tech transformation is real and here to stay. Founders Fund and Atomic are leaders in their sectors, and their decision to plant their flag in Wynwood speaks volumes to the potential of the neighborhood and Miami as a whole.”

East End Capital founder and managing principal Jonathon Yormak said the Wynwood Annex is at the forefront of a trend that is likely to make Wynwood less of a destination neighborhood and more of a “365-day-a-year” one, with a mix of commercial and residential alongside its traditional food, beverage, and retail reputation.

At the same time, he said, no one is challenging its zoning code of strictly low-rise construction and incorporating its traditional design and street art elements.

“The origination of Wynwood as an art community, one with great murals — that is going to continue,” Yormak said.