Wanderful Media cultivates Chico’s tech side

Wanderful Media cultivates Chico’s tech side

Wanderful Media events bring Silicon Valley to the Sacramento Valley
Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, speaks to a group that gathered at Wanderful Media March 27 in Chico.      Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, speaks to a group that gathered at Wanderful Media March 27 in Chico.     Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, speaks with Alex Hendricks (right), a product manager at Wanderful Media March 27 in Chico.


CHICO >> A Bay Area company with an operation in Chico has quietly been scheduling activities that boost the local tech sector.

So far Ben T. Smith IV and Wanderful Media have sponsored three Silicon Valley tech speakers, who have come to Chico for free gatherings open to the public. The last one was Chris Tolles, CEO of the popular Topix community commenting, drawing about 200 people to Wanderful’s downtown quarters.

Smith also wants to help entrepreneurs who travel down the path he did, and president of Chico State Vniversity’s Collegiate Entrepreneurial Association Katharina Chiu is an example. She’s using a desk and surrounding minds to help her business, Meeting Punkt.


Obviously, Wanderful benefits from mentoring local tech students who are attracted by the speakers and vibrant sessions, but it also helps define Chico to the outside world and serves as a recruitment tool.

Smith also feels that encouraging the Chico tech industry benefits the community, as well as his company and other companies looking for tech talent. Silicon Valley tech experts who enjoy the Chico experience might mention the community in a future conversation or decision.

“We’ve kept people in Chico because they want to be here,” said Smith of the Wanderful staff of about 45 who were moved from a building at the Chico Muncipal Airport to a stunning remodeled downtown building that operates 24/7. Growth is expected in Chico, and room for up to 60 was built into the office design.

Smith zeroed in on downtown because of its growing vibrancy as well as budding tech sector and being close to Chico State. The company is one of Chico’s unsung treasures.

The tech-talk audience, many of whom are Chico State students and faculty or employed in the local tech industry, pay nothing for the evenings as they lap up refreshment and ideas.


Smith told the Enterprise-Record that bringing Silicon Valley speakers to town is good. Students and others are attracted to the speaker or the event itself, Smith said, and a relationship can develop that might channel to a job, an internship or just networking. Wanderful is a regular at Chico State job fairs and recruitment events.

“Whether they work for me or not, it’s good for Chico. We’re learning from each other, and encourage these kinds of jobs. Sometimes they work for us, sometimes not,” Smith said during a recent telephone interview from his Bay Area office.

Smith said he treats the speakers to “the Chico experience,” often flying them into town, seeing the community and treating them to dinner.


“I’m often calling in a favor,” he said of the people he invites, but generally his speakers are glad to have the experience and look forward to being brain-picked about new turns of technology.

Smith sees that the every-other-monthly program as an investment in the community that might or might not pay off for him, but is still worth the effort. And he hopes to boost the program to monthly.

“It’s a nice town, in a nice environment,” Smith said, adding that it’s “far away” from the Bay Area, but “not too far away.”

But he also is blunt. “If we couldn’t have developed the building, we wouldn’t have stayed in Chico,” giving building owner David Halimi of Diamond W Western Wear credit for his assistance.

Remodeling what was originally the old Chico Theater and later retail and office space at 325 Broadway took a huge budget. Halimi and Chico architect David Griffith spent months working to turn the old building into an ultra-modern, 24/7 office to accommodate a youthful, high-tech company.

“It was like restoring a classic car from the ground up,” Halimi recalls, but adding new twists like desks that adjust from sitting to standing, bike parking in the basement, showers, and a generator system that whispers. Striking are steel and glass touches like the glass server tower, not to mention powerful air conditioners required for the computer systems.

Founded in Chico as Travidia for digital media advertising for media, the company was purchased in 2011 by a consortium of media companies and renamed Wanderful Media. Wanderful owns and operates Find n Save, a collection of local sales available on the website and on newspaper online sites. It also has iPad and iPhone apps.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.



WANDERFUL MEDIA through the lens of Shannon Iris


A local Photographer Shannon Iris sent these photos of Griffith Architects’ Wanderful Media Headquarters Design in Downtown Chico.  We really enjoyed the photos of the nearly completed office and wanted to share them.



 Offices for internet e-commerce company, Wanderful Media. Includes Server Tower structure, four levels open office & flexible space with , lounge, break area, mechanical & electrical, network coordination, generator , accessible restrooms, site development. MATERIALS include reworked wood flooring, natural concrete, metal grating/ wood casework , concrete counters/ freestanding steel structures / glazing & metal storefront.


Summer internship in a Construction Zone

Over the summer I worked as an Architectural intern with Griffith Architects in their Chico California Office.

summer intern lsd

I had decided that a summer internship would be the perfect way to gain industry experience, valuable connections and further my skill set. Griffith Architects provided me with everything I could have hoped for.From day one I was welcomed as if I was apart of the team and over the summer I assisted on numerous projects while supervising over two projects, which were already in the construction phase.

Because of the small size of the team at Griffith Architects the experience and knowledge I gained covered everything from starting a project to the processes to getting it finalized. I learnt tricks of the trade when it comes to rendering and modeling 3D object, how to arrange books and boards to submit to the city and even installing concrete sinks onsite.

David Griffith and Jon Couch create an awesome team and always had time to answer any questions I had. I really appreciate the time and help they have given me; the amount I have learnt over my time in Chico is enormous, but most importantly everything I learn benefits everything I will do in the future, whether it be academically or professionally. 

 photo basement colors copy 1360







We are a Multidisciplinary firm with Architecture and Engineering design capabilities in house.  All Architectural, civil & structural engineering, management, and coordination of design services are preformed in our downtown Chico office at 242 Broadway Suite 8.


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Holiday Open Studio 2009