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Nine Two Nine Office Tower. Rendering via LMN Architects
Nine Two Nine Office Tower. Rendering via LMN Architects

Salesforce has been growing its workforce around the Seattle region for years with a new hire here, and an acquisition there. But now, the company says it’s about to get intentional and “go big in Seattle.”

The California-based cloud services giant announced today that it will be opening an office in Bellevue, doubling its regional presence and turning the Seattle area into its largest engineering hub outside of its San Francisco headquarters.

The Marc Benioff-led company — a pioneer in cloud-based customer relationship management software — already has locations in Seattle and Bellevue.

But it will consolidate into the new Bellevue office once the space is ready sometime early next year.

The announcement is the latest sign of how some of the biggest names from the Silicon Valley are making deep investments in Seattle, and reshaping the tech scene and the broader community in process — transforming everything from recruiting to housing.

Salesforce's Gary Flake
Salesforce’s Gary Flake

Google’s is expanding its massive campus in Kirkland. Facebook just announced new swanky offices in the South Lake Union neighborhood. And Apple inked a lease for its first permanent office in a downtown tower recently.

More than 50 large technology companies now have engineering outposts in Seattle, according to a list compiled by GeekWire.

“While we’ve been here for six years and we’ve been growing, what is new today is that this represents a very intentional and strategic investment in Seattle for Salesforce,” said Gary Flake, Salesforce CTO of search and data science.

The veteran of Microsoft and Yahoo sold his Seattle startup, Clipboard, to Salesforce in 2013.

He added: “That’s only possible because of the success of Salesforce, but also the success of the Seattle area.”

Rumors of the expansion first surfaced in the Broderick Group’s Eastside Office Market Overview earlier this month, which noted Bellevue is entering a “critical time” for real estate developers.

Three major projects are wrapping up in Bellevue soon, adding about 1.5 million square feet of new office space — which is largely still available for lease — to the market. That’s in addition to the space Expedia will vacate when it moves its headquarters from Bellevue to Seattle in 2019.

Salesforce's Jim Walsh at the GeekWire Summit.
Salesforce’s Jim Walsh makes his pitch at the recent GeekWire Summit.

Salesforce isn’t releasing details on the lease it signed, or saying how many people it will employ here, but the company does say it will be the largest anchor tenant in the still-under-construction 929 Office Tower in downtown Bellevue.

According to Broderick Group’s report, the company will occupy 75,000 square feet of office space, which is enough room for roughly 375 workers.

“[What we’re trying to do is] very ambitious, it’s very exciting,” Flake said. “We have every intention of being a big contributor to the larger Seattle technology community that’s here.”

Jim Walsh, Salesforce senior vice president of infrastructure engineering, said the move is really all about people.

Salesforce was a pioneer in cloud computing and is now one of the largest software companies around. To keep growing, Walsh said it needs to be where the talent is — and that’s in Seattle.  “[The Seattle area] is a great software technology hub,” he said. “For us to continue our growth, it is one of the places we have to be.”

The company looked for its new office across the region, but decided on Bellevue because it wanted an urban office with nearby shops and restaurants. The company also wanted to be centrally located for current and future employees.

So when they heard about the space in an “amazing, brand new building” where it can design its own office, Flake said it was “just a perfect opportunity.”

Salesforce is growing like mad. In its last earnings report, Benioff said that “Salesforce has now blown past the $6.5 billion annual revenue run rate faster than any other enterprise software company.” Salesforce reported fiscal second quarter revenue of $1.63 billion, a 24 percent increase year-over-year.

The 16-year-old company, which earlier this year was rumored to be a takeover target for Microsoft, is now valued at $52.3 billion. It employs more than 16,000 people worldwide.

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