Snap Inc., the company behind the hit Snapchat app, is poised to significantly grow the footprint of its Seattle engineering office, GeekWire has learned.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the building and the deal told GeekWire that Snap will move into three floors of Market Place Tower later this year, space Redfin is vacating as it moves to the new Hill7 office building in Seattle. Snap could move in as soon as late spring, sources said.
The deal amounts to nearly 50,000 square feet, a big increase from the company’s existing Seattle space. A year ago we reported that Snap had leased about 8,000 square feet at 101 Stewart St., the First & Stewart Building, across the street from the Pike Place Market. Snap didn’t stray far in its latest deal, as the Market Place Tower at 2025 First Ave. is just a couple blocks away from First & Stewart and less than a block from Pike Place Market.
Snap has a history of going somewhat against the grain in terms of its office choices, picking iconic locations not necessarily known for being tech hubs. Its headquarters is not Silicon Valley, but rather in the beachfront neighborhood of Venice in Los Angeles. In Seattle, out-of-town tech giants like Google and Facebook have opted for big offices in the tech-heavy South Lake Union neighborhood, while Snap has stayed close to Pike Place Market, one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Snap is one of more than 80 companies from around the world that have set up shop in Seattle to gain access to the region’s deep pool of tech talent. Many of the biggest companies in the world have opened engineering centers here and then grown to become important parts of the local tech ecosystem.
First & Stewart is the same building where Facebook got its start in the city in 2010, and Snap appears to be following the social media giant’s playbook. Facebook eventually grew out of that space and took several floors at the Metropolitan Park towers before making its big statement and leasing the Frank Gehry-designed Dexter Station project in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood with room for more than 2,000 people. It has since planted an even bigger flag here, leasing a pair of planned office buildings and another that was recently completed.
Snap has been coy about its presence in Seattle, going back to 2015 when it dropped the first hints of plans here by putting up a billboard on state Route 99 in Seattle. GeekWire was previously able to confirm the temporary location using a picture posted to Snapchat by an employee.
After dropping the “chat” from its corporate name, expanding into camera hardware with Snap Spectacles, and repositioning itself as a next-generation camera company, Snap is set for a big year with a possible IPO as soon as March.
Snap has not said what type of work is taking place in the Seattle engineering office, but job listings indicate that the office is focused on software development. A current job listing for a software engineering role at Snap’s Seattle office says, “Working from our Seattle, WA office, you will be tasked with solving interesting technical challenges, such as architecting and deploying infrastructure to handle our scale, designing a slick and secure mobile client, and maintaining software used by millions every day.”
Some believe that going public could be a big test for the notoriously-secretive company, as it will be forced to reveal more about itself to get investors to buy stock. But secrecy has proved successful for Snap in the past. When it released the $130 video-recording Spectacles with no warning, and didn’t give any out for reviews, the company started a frenzy, with people lining up to buy them from “Snapbot” vending machines and battling to get a pair on the resale market.