We’ve seen a number of Silicon Valley technology companies pick Seattle for new development offices, highlighted most recently by Facebook’s open house yesterday at its new office near South Lake Union. (See video and photos of the new office here). But it’s not just tech titans from the Bay Area that are choosing Seattle.
In fact, companies in our own backyard are now finding it necessary to be in the middle of the city in order to attract tech talent. The latest example is Redmond game distributor WildTangent, which just opened a new office in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood at 101 Yesler. That’s a stone’s throw away from another big name in gaming. San Francisco’s Zynga opened an office in the old Washington Shoe Building last year.
Why have dual operations in Redmond and downtown Seattle? Company spokeswoman Carol Rogalski said that they wanted to compete with the “other big-name tech firms” that are arriving from the Valley.
“We know some engineers/developers live in Seattle versus the Eastside, so our Seattle office is for those people who want to work downtown,” she said. At this point, the office just has two employees, but Rogalski said that will likely grow to 20 to 25 in the coming months. The company employs 161 at offices around the world, but most of its hiring is coming in North America.
The company plans to hire for its PC and Android game platform, as well as a “super secret” project that will be partially housed at the new space. Rogalski declined to offer details about the project. But she did say the 20 to 25 number represents new hires, not transfers from the existing office in Redmond.
WildTangent isn’t the only tech company with operations on both sides of Lake Washington, which for our readers outside the Seattle area splits the city from the suburbs to the East.
Google is probably the best example, with about 1,000 employees now split between offices in Kirkland and Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Talbeau Software also has a large presence on both sides of the lake.
I wondered if we might see more tech companies set up branch offices on either side of the lake given that tolls were recently implemented on the state route 520 bridge, one of the main arteries connecting the eastside to Seattle. Rogalski tells us that the tolls didn’t play a part in the decision, but I am sure there are some happy engineers at WildTangent these days who don’t want to make that commute.