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As Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, signaling the company’s public debut, a crowd of protesters gathered outside its Venice Beach, Calif., headquarters.

Snap’s choice to set up shop in Venice Beach rather than Silicon Valley has always raised eyebrows. The company first set up shop in a former marijuana dispensary, but has since taken over several buildings in the neighborhood, displacing tenants such as a nonprofit for homeless teens.

From a marketing perspective, the move played into the company’s aura of secrecy – its office is isolated from other tech giants. It also put Snap literally closer to its audience. Snapchat has always drawn younger users, and a Venice Beach office plays into that.

But outside the company, tensions have been bubbling over its presence in the neighborhood. While Snap touts its employees’ volunteer hours, neighbors are worried about the impact the multi-billion company is having on the area. Snap has grown to more than 1,800 employees since it launched, and most of its office space is still in Venice Beach.

These tensions bubbled to the surface this week when Snap filed its IPO. Protesters concerned about Snap’s effect on the neighborhood gathered outside the headquarters for days before its stock market debut Thursday morning.

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In response to the protests, Snap said in a statement that it is looking to expand outside of the area.

“We don’t just have our headquarters here; many of us also call Venice home,” Snap said. “We’ve been very grateful to be a part of this creative community for over the last four years and we’ve worked closely with local schools and nonprofits to be a good neighbor. No one could have anticipated how quickly we’ve grown, and we have already begun focusing our future growth outside of Venice.”

“Outside of Venice” means, in part, Seattle. GeekWire reported in January that Snap has leased another 50,000 square feet of office space in the city, adding to the 8,000 square feet it already has occupied.

Snap isn’t exactly straying far from its roots with the company’s Seattle offices, which are across the street from Pike Place Market, Seattle’s equivalent of the Venice Beach boardwalk.

It’s unclear if Seattle residents will be more welcoming than Venice Beach. The city is all too familiar with the impact a large technology company can have on a neighborhood. While most Silicon Valley firms have expanded within Palo Alto instead of San Francisco, Seattle is seeing the opposite happen. Amazon has taken over the city’s South Lake Union neighborhood; Facebook’s Seattle operation is just nearby; and Google is also moving in. Tableau, meanwhile, occupies much of the Fremont.

See more photos from the Venice Beach, Calif., protests below.

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