Novato is a city in northern Marin County, in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 51,904. Novato is located about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of San Rafael and about 30 miles (48 km) north of San Francisco on U.S. 101. Novato has been called one of the best places to live in the US.
The city is home to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and several biotech firms, such as Biosearch Technologies and BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Several small technology companies are also based in Novato, such as 2K Marin, Radiant Logic, Toys For Bob, One Legal, International Genetics Incorporated, Channel Management Solutions, Enwisen, Sonic Solutions and DriveSavers.
The former Hamilton Air Force Base is also located in Novato, but was decommissioned in 1974 and designated a Historic District in 1998. After lying stagnant for many years, major renovations were pushed through by then-mayor Michael DiGiorgio. As of 2008 the base has largely been redeveloped into single-family homes. The former hangar buildings were gutted and redeveloped into two-story office buildings; tenants include 2K Sports, Sony Imageworks, Visual Concepts, The Republic of Tea, Toys For Bob, and Birkenstock Distribution USA.
From 1983 to 1998, the iconic developer of video games, Brøderbund Software, was headquartered in Novato, known through games Choplifter, Lode Runner, Karateka, and Prince of Persia, and others. From the 1982 until 2015, Novato was headquarters for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, which was Marin County's largest employer at one time, with 2,400 employees as of 2000. By 2015, the company had laid off or transferred most its employees and relocated its remaining employees to its a smaller headquarters in nearby Petaluma.