Exclusive: Zynga picks historic Pioneer Square building for office

Zynga, the fast growing maker of FarmVille, Mafia Wars and other social games, plans to establish its new engineering center in the Washington Shoe Building in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, GeekWire has learned.

A Zynga spokeswoman today confirmed that the company plans to move into the six-floor brick building at 159 Jackson Street some time in the next two months. The spokeswoman didn’t have the exact square footage or employee growth plans for the office, but noted that the company is currently actively recruiting top engineers and developers to fill the space.

That recruiting job falls to Neil Roseman, the former Amazon.com vice president of engineering and former Evri CEO, who was tapped to lead the new office earlier this month.

Photo via Keith Tyler’s Flickr page

Zynga marks the latest high-tech company to choose Pioneer Square as its base. Online retailer Blue Nile and data storage company Isilon Systems also recently moved to the historic neighborhood — wedged between downtown Seattle and the sports stadiums.

Other tenants in the Washington Shoe Building include Yapta, Olson Kundig Architects and Lucid Commerce.

I stopped by the offices today to check out the scene, and there was no visible sign of Zynga in the lobby or on the floors I could access. Several workers in the building said they hadn’t heard of Zynga or its plans to move into the building.

The arrival of Zynga in Seattle is yet another sign of the city’s promising base of technical talent, a workforce that other California companies are trying to suck up. Facebook and Salesforce.com also have set up operations in Seattle in recent months, and just this week we reported that San Francisco wireless headset maker Jawbone was looking to establish a presence here.

It’s kind of interesting to see where these companies land. (Salesforce.com picked South Lake Union, while Facebook chose an office space near Pike Place Market. Google, meanwhile, maintains operations in Fremont and Kirkland).

The Zynga spokeswoman declined to say how many employees the company plans to hire in the region. But a source tells GeekWire that the company is looking to hire as many as 50 people this year, with an option on more office space.

Smells to me like Zynga might be keeping an eye on an acquisition candidate or two in the Seattle area.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE:  A source tells GeekWire that Zynga is taking over about 6,800 square feet in the building, enough room for about 35 employees. I am not sure yet if they have an option for more.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire, a tech news site in Seattle. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews.

  • http://twitter.com/boctor Peter Boctor

    In the late 90′s this building housed Zeitgeist coffee before they moved next door and had a bunch of artist lofts. It was renovated in 2001 and is part of Sam Israel’s Samis foundation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Israel. Welcome Zynga! Definitely beats a drab office space!

  • http://twitter.com/InfiniteHoops Tosh Meston

    Right across from Caffe Umbria. Nice.

  • http://www.duncanhaley.com John Haley

    Welcome to the neighborhood! We’re just around the corner if you need anything. http://www.duncanhaley.com

  • Anonymous

    Guess these are going to be talent poaching centers….

    • johnhcook

      That is one way to put it.

  • http://twitter.com/Pioneerpet Pioneer Pet

    It is very exciting to read more new quality business are moving into Pioneer Square. By the time they open their doors my new pet supply store will be open. Only located 4 minutes away from Zyngas Seattle office.
    @pioneerpet:twitter