Founders Den offers Friendster founder and other techies a place to work, hang out

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Silicon Valley has incubators, accelerators and Y Combinator.

Now it has a place that is being billed as a hangout for grown-up entrepreneurs.

Founders Den officially swung open its doors Monday with 8,500 tech-friendly square feet in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco. It’s a cross between reasonably priced shared office space and an exclusive private club where experienced entrepreneurs and investors can rub elbows and brainstorm new ideas.

The catch: It’s by invitation only.

Founders Den is the brainchild of four experienced entrepreneurs who are working on new ideas: Jonathan Abrams, Zachary Bogue, Jason Johnson and Michael Levit. They have tapped their networks to bring in some heavy-hitter advisors, including Bebo’s Michael Birch and Blippy’s Philip Kaplan. And they keep the cost of the first-class amenities lower with the help of sponsors: venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners, law firm DLA Piper and trading marketplace SecondMarket.


‘It’s the ultimate clubhouse for entrepreneurs in San Francisco,’ Abrams said.

Entrepreneurs can code all day and drink beer or play poker all night.

Already eight start-ups have moved in (not including the founders’ own start-ups), all referred by someone who knew someone with some serious clout. Abrams says there’s space for more as the space can accommodate between 10 and 15 start-ups that will typically stay for about six months until their ideas and their funding grow as large as their ambitions.

Abrams said the foursome created the space after realizing they needed a place that would help them as they tried to launch new ventures.

‘I could have easily found a friend or two who would have been happy to let me bum a desk off of them or gone to a shared office space, but none of that really motivated me to move out of my home office,’ he said. ‘The idea of doing something with people I like and respect that I could bounce ideas off of and go to lunch with and have coffee with, sounded cool.’

The exclusivity of Founders Den is a touch ironic for Abrams, who founded the first major social networking site, Friendster, which made it easy for people to connect.

This is a side project for Abrams, who is working on a new Web service after selling Socializr in November and is co-owner of the San Francisco nightclub Slide.

‘When Michael Birch sold Bebo to AOL, he said he had nowhere to go,’ Abrams said. ‘We are solving that problem.’


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-- Jessica Guynn