Home-grown tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon.com, Expedia, T-Mobile, Zillow and Tableau have deep roots in Seattle — important companies which have helped define this region’s unique tech ecosystem.
But in recent years a fascinating phenomenon has occurred as large Silicon Valley tech giants have arrived in droves, establishing engineering offices in the region and mining tech talent in this mossy covered corner of the world.
Call it the Invasion of the Silicon Valley Dev Snatchers.
The story — one we have tracked closely over the years — was highlighted this week when GeekWire discovered that the biggest tech company on the planet, Apple, was setting up offices in Seattle. Apple isn’t saying much about the new office, though our sleuthing uncovered that the maker of the iPhone and iPad appeared to be coming here through the acquisition of stealthy startup Union Bay Networks.
Interestingly, Apple is one of the last of the big Valley behemoths to arrive. But its arrival is significant — cementing Seattle’s role as the cloud capital of the world, as GeekWire’s Todd Bishop reported yesterday.
Two years ago, I took a close look at the tech transplants, compiling a list of companies that settled along our shores. Some of the companies have closed up shop, namely gaming company Zynga which closed its Pioneer Square digs this past summer.
But, for the most part, there have been plenty of new arrivals, and many of the longer-standing transplants like eBay and Google are bolstering their workforces in the Northwest big time.
In fact, so many companies are setting up shop in Seattle that in the course of writing this piece this morning another tech company announced a branch here.
L.A.-based Belkin, creator of the WeMo home automation system, today said it is setting up a new R&D center called WeMo Labs that will work in conjunction with The University of Washington.
Given that news and Apple’s fresh presence — along with recent arrivals of Alibaba, Oracle, HP, and, yes, even SpaceX — I thought the time was right to update the list. Here ya go:
Alibaba: The Chinese e-commerce giant opened an engineering office in Seattle last month, following the company’s blockbuster IPO. The center is still under construction, but Alibaba now has an 8,000 square foot beachhead from which to grow from in Amazon’s backyard. Previously: Alibaba’s stealthy new Seattle engineering office is within poaching distance of Amazon
Apple: Apple steered clear of Seattle for years as it battled long-time nemesis Microsoft. But now the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant is establishing a presence in Cloud City following what appears to be the acquisition of stealthy Union Bay Networks. Apple isn’t saying much about the new engineering center, but a LinkedIn search shows at least 30 engineers working for the company in the Seattle area. Those include several former F5 and Union Bay Networks software engineers, including Benn Bollay who now lists his title as “manager at Apple.” Previously: Apple hiring for mysterious new engineering office in Seattle
Booking.com/Priceline: Expedia isn’t the only online travel giant operating in the Seattle area. The Priceline Group’s Booking.com unit is growing like gangbusters in Bellevue, and the company bolstered its presence in the area even more this year when it acquired Seattle startup Buuteeq in July for what we heard was $125 million to $140 million. Look for more growth from the Booking.com and Buuteeq teams in the future. Previously: Q&A with Buuteeq CEO Forest Key: Why they sold to Priceline and how startups must nail culture first
CenturyLink: The telecommunications giant isn’t just about broadband Internet. The company is building a huge cloud engineering center in 30,000 square-feet of space in Bellevue at the One Twelfth @ Twelfth building, with plans to add 150 employees in the coming year. CenturyLink arrived in Seattle through the purchase last year of Seattle area cloud computing startup Tier 3, which makes up the backbone of the company’s big cloud push.“Seattle has become this pulse of cloud. It is like the heartbeat,” said former Tier 3 CEO Jared Wray in an interview with GeekWire last month as he showed off CenturyLink’s new cloud engineering center. Previously: Inside CenturyLink’s fast-growing dev center: Shaking up the cloud with innovative work spaces
Climate Corp.: The San Francisco weather data crunchers— led by ex-Googlers and now owned by Monsanto — established a branch in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood in 2012. It now employs 45 engineers and scientists at 415 Occidental Ave. South. The office continues to blossom, and the company plans to move into new digs next year with room to more than double. “The Seattle office has had tremendous growth over the last year, doubling in size,” said The Climate Corp.’s Vice President of Engineering Brian Zimmer, who is based out of Seattle. Previously: “The Climate Corp. picks Seattle for branch office, looks to cultivate talent to crunch weather data”
CrowdStrike: Opened an engineering office in Kirkland in 2012 with about 10 employees. Previously: “Stealth startup CrowdStrike wants to obliterate security threats, raises $26M”
Dassault Systemes: A key Boeing partner, the French software company opened an 11,000 square foot office in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood in 2011. Previously: “Aerospace software company Dassault Systemes making Seattle a new corporate hub”
Dropbox: (Added Dec. 2014) Cloud powerhouse Dropbox reveals plans for Seattle engineering office
eBay: The online retailing powerhouse is finding recruiting success in Amazon.com’s backyard, growing from 200 employees last fall to more than 340 employees today. Part of that growth came through the acquisition of Seattle startup Decide.com last September, with former Decide CEO Mike Fridgen and crew helping to expand eBay’s presence at its new offices in downtown Bellevue. The company inked a 53,000 square foot lease last year at One Bellevue Center, and the new office operates as one of the company’s “Centers of Excellence.”
EMC: Before it acquired Seattle’s Isilon Systems for up to $2.25 billion, the storage giant already had a presence in the area. But that operation is getting much, much bigger, with the company moving into a 140,000 square-foot building on 1st Avenue South in Pioneer Square in 2011. Previously: “EMC boss Joe Tucci loves being in the backyard of Amazon and Microsoft”
Facebook: The social networking giant opened a small engineering office in Seattle in 2010, but quickly outgrew the space and moved to bigger digs at the Metropolitan Park Towers two years later. Now, we’re hearing that Facebook is on the prowl for even more space, looking to take over the top two floors at the Macy’s building in downtown Seattle, space that could accommodate as many as 500 workers. And it is not just the company’s social networking team that’s growing in Seattle. In March, we learned that the company’s newly-acquired Oculus VR gaming headset unit was establishing an office in Seattle under the direction of former Valve engineer Atman Binstock. Previously: Facebook eyeing expansion in downtown Seattle
GoDaddy: Under the direction of former Microsoftie Blake Irving, the domain name giant opened an office in Kirkland in Nov. 2013.
Google: The granddaddy of the Silicon Valley titans in Seattle, the Internet search pioneer established a presence in Kirkland 10 years ago. It now employs more than 1,000 people in the area, split between offices in Kirkland, Bothell and Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Last year, the company doubled down on the Seattle area, announcing plans to add onto its Kirkland campus with a new 180,000 square foot development, one with enough room for an additional 700 employees. Previously: Google to double size of engineering center in Microsoft’s backyard
Groupon: Former Amazon.com general manager Vinayak Hegde started the new engineering center in Seattle’s International District two years ago, and now it already has more than 200 workers. The daily deals company likes the talent pool in Seattle, and says it is planning to grow the office here by 40 to 50 percent. This past summer it took over the third floor at 505 Fifth Avenue South, giving it enough room to add another 75 employees. “Seattle has been great place for us to find the talent we need to help grow our mobile e-commerce marketplace,” says a company spokesman. Previously: “Groupon hires ex-Amazon GM to lead Seattle office.”
HP: In May, HP announced that its Helion cloud engineering effort will be based in Seattle, led by Microsoft veteran Bill Hilf.“We’re hiring like gangbusters,” said Hilf, speaking at the HP offices at Seventh Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle earlier this year. The company employed about 70 folks in the offices at the time, and said that it planned to add more than 200 in the next 18 months. Previously: HP hiring hundreds in Seattle for ‘Helion’ cloud launch, led by former Microsoft exec, betting $1B on OpenStack
HTC: The mobile handset maker’s North American operations are in Bellevue, and its software and services unit is located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. HTC America started in Bellevue in 2006, and now employs about 160 employees in the local office. The software and services group, known as HTC Creative Labs, now employs about 120 in Pioneer Square.
Hulu: Established in February 2011, the Seattle office for the online video pioneer at 1424 4th Ave. employs 35 engineers and developers under the direction of Chef/Opscode co-founder Barry Steinglass. “Seattle is an extremely important area of growth for Hulu as a company,” said a spokeswoman. “We currently have 18 open positions in Seattle and are actively hiring candidates who have a passion for technology, entertainment and innovation.”
HBO: Based in the Metropolitan Park tower in Seattle, HBO’s engineering office focuses on the HBO Go service and other R&D projects. It is led by former Microsoftie Drew Angeloff, and was established by HBO CTO Otto Berkes last year. Berkes, also a former Microsoftie, told GeekWire in June that the HBO offices in Seattle have “exceeded” his expectations, one of the reasons why they planned to double its size. Previously: HBO doubling Seattle engineering office, expects to top 100 people by year-end
Jawbone: The San Francisco maker of Bluetooth headset and speakers set up shop in Seattle in 2011. Previously: “$49 million richer, Jawbone becomes latest Bay Area darling to kiss up to Seattle”
New Relic: The app analytics company, which filed to go public in November, has a small engineering outpost in Seattle. It has a larger R&D facility in Portland.
Nutanix: The privately-held San Jose data storage company, which boasts a $2 billion value, announced plans to establish an engineering office in Seattle in September. The 692-person company plans to hire 30 people for the new office. Previously: IPO-bound Nutanix to open engineering center in Seattle
Oracle: Yes, another long-time nemesis of Microsoft just arrived in Seattle. Oracle just inked a 17,000 square-foot lease in Seattle’s Century Square high-rise, with the new offices led by cloud engineering veterans and former Amazon.com employees Don Johnson and Craig Kelly. They are aiming to hire more than 100 engineers for the new office. Previously: Oracle to hire 100+ engineers in Seattle for new cloud infrastructure center
RichRelevance: Former Amazon.com and Pelago veteran Darren Vengroff has shifted into an advisory role at the company, but the office at 3rd and Union continues to grow with about 15 employees. “Most of our engineering teams have members in both locations and we have gotten really good an inter-office collaboration,” said Vengroff. “We care about getting the best people, and we’re happy to let them choose which city they would prefer to live in.”
Salesforce.com: The maker of customer relationship management software picked the West 8th skyscraper in downtown Seattle for its hub in Seattle ore than three years ago. It leased 12,000 square feet in the building, which also houses offices for the ever-expanding Amazon.com. Salesforce.com declined to say how many people it has in the Seattle office or provide the number of open positions, though its jobs page lists plenty of open jobs.
SAP: Well, they are not here quite yet. But after SAP gobbles up Bellevue-based Concur Technologies — an $8.3 billion deal that is expected to occur next year — the software giant will have a pretty big anchor in the region. Concur employs 4,200 people worldwide, and is considered a pioneer in software-as-a-service. Previously: Concur CEO says SAP acquisition is a ‘big bet’ that will accelerate company growth
SpaceX: Yes, Elon Musk is even attracted to Seattle’s engineering talent. The high-tech space venture set up offices in Seattle recently, with GeekWire’s Todd Bishop breaking the news. Previously: SpaceX launching Seattle-area office, recruiting squadrons of Microsoft engineers
Splunk: The company identified Seattle as a hotbed for talent in 2011, opening an engineering center under the direction of former Microsoft Technical Fellow Brad Lovering. Lovering has since moved on, but the office remains with about 35 engineers and marketers. In fact, Splunk just moved to new offices in the Metropolitan Park East Tower, with about six open positions.
Staples: Not a traditional tech player, but the Massachusetts retailer set up office space in downtown Seattle earlier this year under the direction of former Amazon.com and drugstore.com employee Faisal Masud.The hip office, on the cusp of Pioneer Square at 719 Second Avenue, is adorned with graffiti art, a ping pong table and, of course, urban cool office furniture direct from Staples. The office housed about 40 employees at the time of our visit in June, and Masud told us they had room to more than double. “The talent pool is very strong here,” Masud said. Previously: Staples plants stake in Amazon’s backyard, opens engineering center in Seattle
Ticketmaster: Announced an engineering office in Seattle in 2012. Previously: “Ticketmaster opens Seattle office led by Amazon vets”
Twitter: The social networking powerhouse arrived in Seattle in four years ago, and now employs more than 80 engineers on the 20th floor of the Century Square building in downtown Seattle. “Seattle has all the right ingredients: Major tech companies, great universities and a startup scene that does a ton of innovation,” said Twitter VP of Engineering Chris Fry in an interview with GeekWire earlier this year. “Seattle is a great place to have an engineering office. We definitely came here with a purpose.” Previously: Photos: A look inside Twitter’s new Seattle engineering office
OK, folks. That’s our list as we have it now. Let us know if we missed any notable tech giants, and we’ll get them added.