Green Dot moves headquarters to Austin

Packages containing a prepaid Mastercard Inc. debit card from Green Dot Corp. and a Visa Inc. debit card (left) will be arranged for a photo on Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Washington, DC, the United States.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Another company is leaving California.

Green Dot, a fintech company and the largest US provider of prepaid debit cards, is moving its headquarters from Pasadena, California to Austin, Texas, CNBC has exclusively learned.

The move follows the departures of technology giants such as Oracle, Palantir and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise announced last year. Some companies, especially tech firms, have welcomed the move to remote working forced by the coronavirus pandemic, reducing the need to maintain large headquarters in expensive cities.

Green Dot will focus on four hubs – the new Texas headquarters as well as WeWork-style offices in Florida, Ohio and California – as it’s a permanent remote working model, CEO Dan Henry said in a Zoom interview.

“I want the best, brightest people we can find to join our team to be successful and you can live anywhere you want,” said Henry. “I’m not Jamie Dimon, I’m not going to force you to take the train three hours a day.”

Henry was referring to comments made this week by Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. He’s calling his US employees back to the offices this month and is frustrated with the conference call restrictions.

Green Dot will expire the lease for its 160,000-square-foot main building in Pasadena and plans to set up its Austin headquarters by the end of the year, said Henry, who took over the company last year as part of a turnaround project.

While employees leaving California save personal income taxes in states like Texas and Florida, the company won’t save much from a tax standpoint, Henry said. Instead, the CEO described Texas as a very “business-friendly state” compared to California, where local regulations could dictate how the company selects board members, for example.

“What Covid has done was a shift in awareness. We are seeing how productive we are from anywhere and how much our employees love it,” said Henry. “It’s more important to be productive than to be busy. If you force people into an office every day, everyone will try to be busy.”

Henry said internal surveys found that 70% of employees agreed never to come to the office.

To help maintain the corporate culture, the company is planning regular monthly, quarterly, and annual events to be held at one of the four hubs, he said. Younger employees who crave more interaction can simply live near a hub until “they’ve earned their streak and want to move to the mountains or the beach”.

The company will continue to have a presence in Pasadena as it expects many of its employees to stay there, he said. Green Dot has nearly 1,300 employees in the United States and China.

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