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Is SF’s hottest new club a coworking space with a podcast?

You can pay to get into Shack15—but only if a member refers you.

A clock tower building with vibrant beams of colorful light, against an orange and blue sky, surrounded by silhouettes of people and trees.
Shack15 has become the place to be if you’re in AI and in tech. The Ferry Building co-working space and event venue is a place type away on your laptop, but also dance the night away to a DJ. | Source: AI illustration by Jesse Rogala/The Standard

San Francisco’s hottest club is a 51,000-square-foot space with striking Bay views, hosting everything from Michelin-level pop-ups to psychedelic sound baths to vibey DJ sets. 

It’s also a coworking space with a VC arm and a podcast.

Shack15 opened in 2020 in the city’s iconic Ferry Building, up the front steps and another flight of stairs inside. It has since become one of the tech industry’s most buzzy hubs. To get in, you have to be a member—which costs around $2,000 a year, and you can’t just pay your way in. New members need a referral from existing ones, who can also bring along guests. Its success is the latest symbol of Silicon Valley’s clubiness. 

In venture capital, investors prize “warm intros” from a trusted friend to a new founder or prospect. Shack15 has adopted the same model.

On a visit earlier this year, Gradient Ventures partner Andrew Brackin was immediately greeted by someone wearing a VR headset while drinking a glass of wine.

“I was like, this maybe is going too far,” said Brackin, who’s been a member since January. “This could be peak Shack15.” His firm’s office is also in the Ferry Building, but he and his colleagues often use the space for meetings. 

The image shows a reception desk with a person behind it and a sign with large, illuminated letters spelling "SHACK15." There are also some boxes and items on the desk.
Shack15 is located in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The members-only club costs around $2,000 annually to join. | Source: Courtesy Kevin Coughran
The image shows a spacious, bright indoor area with a high, arched glass and steel ceiling. People are gathered on a mezzanine level, and more are seen below.
The expansive 51,000-square-foot space is a co-working space by day, dance floor, dining destination and AI event venue by night. | Source: Courtesy Kevin Coughran

“It’s pretty impressive how many founders and companies are in there,” he said. “It’s bustling with people.”

The first thing you see after coming up from the lobby is a long coffee bar, housing a case of pastries and—on a recent weekday—sandwiches with hot smoked trout and horseradish dressing or roasted carrots and goat cheese.

The open coworking area, with arched floor-to-ceiling windows to admire the bay, contains couches, comfy armchairs and coffee tables. On one piece of furniture, a copy of “Outlive” by Peter Attia, a bible for the longevity-obsessed, sat underneath a plant and a hand sanitizer pump. 

Shack15 calls itself “the port of entry to Silicon Valley.” Its website says it is “a social club of 2,000 entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors.” Lately, it’s also one of the top locations for all things AI: hackathons, film screenings on AI disinformation and panels about U.S. strength in this new era. It’s also one of the main venues for October’s TedAI conference. 

A group of people are seated in a modern room with large arched windows overlooking a body of water. They are watching a projected image on a screen.
Shack15 has become a go-to venue for the AI community, regularly hosting panels, film screenings and hackathons. | Source: Mariya Stangl

“It’s the common man’s replacement for The Battery,” said Douglas Dunlap, on a recent Tuesday afternoon at Shack15, his first visit thanks to a guest pass. He was referring to the Jackson Square members club which costs $2,800 a year for a standard membership, plus a $1,000 initiation fee. (It also requires a nomination from a current member.)

“It’s a great place for little startups to have an impressive meetup site that grants credibility,” said Dunlap, a San Francisco native who splits his time between Austin and Redwood City. “Before, The Battery was the meet-up spot for tech. Now, The Battery is getting old.” 

The Battery’s director of membership, Thomas Kennedy, said he’s happy to see Shack15’s success because it means more people will be drawn downtown. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve found that there’s space for everyone in community-building in the city that’s given us so much,” he said.


Shack15’s programming has something for everyone, from the woo-woo Burning Man crowd to the rise-and-grinders to the partiers and hackathon obsessives. 

Mickey Friedman, co-founder of Flair AI, which makes a design platform for product photo shoots, said she first visited Shack15 when she was judging a hackathon there last year. “I was just in awe of the place,” she said. “It was the nicest hackathon I’ve ever been to.”

A June newsletter alerted members to a “synaptic mapping meditation session” in Shack15’s wellness space, “The Sanctuary.” An upcoming session in July featured a “psychedelic facilitator hosting a 12-instrument sound bath.” 

Two chefs, one in black and tattooed, the other in white, cook in a spacious, industrial-style kitchen. They're prepping vegetables and smiling together.
Top-tier chefs also regularly host pop-ups in the space, making it a downtown destination for foodies and gourmands. | Source: Mariya Stangl
A dancer is performing in a dimly lit room bathed in red light, while a crowd of people attentively watches, some seated on the floor and others standing.
Cultural events include dance performances, DJ sets and sound baths featuring a "psychedelic facilitator." | Source: Mariya Stangl

Then there’s Shack15 after dark. Some evenings, there’s wine and a live piano performance. And DJs and artists like Kerala Dust, Rob Garza and Bisi often have the coworking space on their list of local venues alongside clubs like 1015 Folsom and the Midway. 

For the foodies, it regularly throws pop-up dinners with top-tier chefs. A recent Neo-Fjordic menu included trout ceviche with chili oil, rhubarb leche de tigre and jalapeno, followed by ling cod with artichoke puree and lavender mustard gastrique, among the many courses.

At 3 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, it was tea time. Staff set out paper cups on the coffee bar, along with dispensers of brewed rooibos and English breakfast. People lined up to fill their cups and take treats—snickerdoodles, cut into fourths, and bite-size brownies and blondies.

House music bumps in the bathrooms and a sign instructs members in the “focus area” to keep their voices low and not take phone calls. Members can rent nearby meeting rooms and event space with more floor-to-ceiling arched windows and bay views.

Two women are at a brightly lit bar with wine bottles in front of them. One is looking down, the other is smiling at her phone. People are blurred in the background.
The co-working space is a go-to for investor meetings, as well as wine and cheese nights often accompanied by live music. | Source: Courtesy Kevin Coughran

Membership has benefits beyond somewhere nice to work where you can sip free tea. In March, Shack15 launched its own venture fund, focused on AI and deep tech. Members can apply to join its syndicate and then write checks into its investments. Its website says the fund has invested in recycling startup Glacier and the renewable energy semiconductor manufacturing company SirenOpt, among others.

For all the public displays of love for Shack15 and promotion of its events, the people who started it are shy. Shack15’s founder, Jørn Lyseggen, who also started media monitoring company Meltwater, did not respond to a request for an interview.

The organization’s chief of staff Natasha Nisser also declined to participate. After a trip where several members and visitors said how much they loved it, she asked for the anodyne (but positive!) conversations to be considered off-limits.

Even Andrew De Los Santos, an influencer who has posted glowing reviews of Shack15 on TikTok and Instagram to tens of thousands of followers, declined to speak about his experience there, citing the coworking space’s no-interview policy.

He made sure to note, though, that he recently joined as a member.