TED has been around since 1984, but it’s only been within the last several years that the company’s thought-provoking, lecture-style talks have exploded into the mainstream.
The 18-minute-or-less talks cover everything from psychology to the environment to finance to business, and they often rake in millions of views online.
All of that success originates in TED’s New York City headquarters.
The office has a 100-plus-person amphitheater, a stop-motion studio, plush viewing tents, single-person workspaces, and too many plants to count. Here’s what it’s like inside.
TED occupies two floors in an office building located in New York's SoHo neighbourhood. It looks into the atrium, so TED installed high-reaching plants to shield people from the view.
The company moved there in March 2016. Susan Zimmerman, TED's special projects manager, said it was a huge upgrade from the last space.
On the lower floor is the server room. The doors display the daily TED talk video views in real-time. Just after lunch on a recent Wednesday, the views were closing in on 1.3 million for the day.
Nearby is the kitchen, which includes a cafe with large TV screens to view the talks happening in the amphitheater.
Zimmerman said the theatre is almost irresistible to visitors, who often want to take their picture on the stage with the iconic red 'TED' letters in the background.
TED holds its all-hands meetings in the theatre, in addition to various salon and TED Fellows events. It seats more than 100 people.
The TED Fellows program was launched in 2009 as a grass-roots way to cultivate new talent. Each year, the company sponsors roughly a dozen researchers and creatives from around the world to pursue an idea.
They present their idea at the TED Conference and meet with industry experts to help grow their careers.
On the top floor, the theatre leads back into the office space. TED lined the hall to the theatre with enclosed, high-backed chairs designed to give employees as much privacy as possible.
Some people still prefer to work in a more open setting if they aren't at their desk. (Note: more plants.)
Zimmerman explained that TED staffers are endlessly curious. The colour-coded bookshelf, made up primarily of books written by TED speakers, is the first indication.
The open-plan office was designed to give people flexibility in how they work. Some people using standing desks, while others have no desk at all -- instead, they rely on love seats with swivel work trays. Tiny plants separate each desk.
While the lower-floor conference rooms are named after cities where TED has hosted conferences, such as Monterey and Long Beach, the upstairs room are a bit more random.
One workspace doubles as a viewing tent, complete with rugs, cushions, and poufs -- all to view the talks going on in the amphitheater if it starts to overflow.
More chairs line the walkway. According to Zimmerman, employees refer to these as Dr. Evil chairs, in reference to the villain in the 'Austin Powers' movies.
The hallway includes a roomy supply closet where two posters from the original TED conferences hang on the wall. On the left is Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of TED, taking over a city.
The TED Ed studio is on the top floor. This group creates educational videos used by teachers to illustrate different concepts to students. (Zimmerman, a former actor, is a regular narrator.)
It adjoins the stop-motion studio, a cramped, all-black room with drawers full of action figures and other trinkets.
Across the hall, and adjacent to the workspace of TED Director Chris Anderson, is the conference room used for most TED speaker rehearsals. One feed can show the speaker presenting while the other shows their slides, letting TED staff make detailed notes.
On the way back to the lower floor, Zimmerman walks past yet another employee in a non-desk workspace. (Spotted: another tiny plant.)
Off the kitchen is an open-concept workspace just like on the floor above. This one has a charging wall of fancy tech and Batman memorabilia.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.