Silicon Valley's favourite Hacker Hangouts Are At Risk Of Being Shut Down

hacker dojo

Photo: Flickr / Digital Game Museum

The very first “office space” where Pinterest was born is now at risk of being shut down.Hacker Dojo, one of Silicon Valley’s most prized collaborative workspaces, is in the process of raising money to retrofit its office and avoid being shut down, The New York Times reports.

Hacker spaces like Hacker Dojo (nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley) and Noisebridge (in the edgy Mission District in San Francisco, an up and coming startup-heavy neighbourhood) are beloved among entrepeneurs because they bring a bunch of smart developers under a single roof. Whenever you have that many smart people in the same room, great ideas tend to emerge.

Hacker Dojo charges rogue developers $100 a month to have access to the space, which includes office supplies, bike racks and other perks. Often they’ll hold makeshift classes, such as a beginner’s session on the Python programming language — resources you would never have access to otherwise.

As a result, founders and curious would-be entrepreneurs can lean on these “dojos” instead of having to go through the arduous process of finding funding for an office space or getting accepted into Y Combinator or other incubators, and won’t have to give up equity.

The other option is to work from home, which in addition to being lonely and devoid of other entrepeneurs, can be disheartening and have an annoying lack of resources. You hear stories about entrepeneurs scraping together a prototype while eating dried ramen — with places like the Dojo, the reality is much softer and much more welcoming.

In short, hacker havens like the Hacker Dojo actually lead to more entrepeneurs being willing to venture out on their own and try to build companies.

But given that it’s just a retrofitted warehouse, it doesn’t have the requirements of an office building — like fire escapes and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. That’s led city officials to come down on the hacker space, which also served as the west coast office of the designers of the Pebble watch, the Times reports.

“If they can’t comply, they can’t use the building as they want to,” said Mountain View’s chief building officer Anthony Ghiossi told the Times.

The Dojo has so far raised more than $170,000 for retrofits amounting to about $250,000 — from Google included, the Times reports. It also has a Kickstarter campaign running, which has raised more than $40,000.

Granted, it’s for safety precautions, and it sounds like Mountain View is trying to work things out with the Dojo. But having visited a number of these spaces, getting snagged by a technicality is a horrible way to go down.

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