Amazon exec slams HQ2 leaker: ‘You’re not doing Crystal City, VA any favors’

Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. (GeekWire Photo)

Amazon officials are notoriously private, declining to give interviews or comments to the press without express consent from the Seattle e-commerce giant. But Mike Grella, Amazon’s director of economic development and public policy, broke with that convention Saturday.

He criticized the leaker who allegedly tipped off The Washington Post that Northern Virginia is the likely winner of Amazon’s second headquarters competition in a highly unorthodox public rebuke.

Although Grella linked to a CNBC story in his tweet, the original report comes from The Washington Post, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos happens to own independently from the tech company. The Post reported that Amazon is in advanced talks to place its “HQ2” in Crystal City — just south of Washington D.C. and The Pentagon.

According to the report “people close to the process” said that Amazon is in discussions about relocating employees to the area, potential office buildings it could occupy, and how to make its announcement to the public.

In a subsequent tweet, Grella criticized The Post for a story linking Bezos’ private jet’s flight history to the Amazon HQ2 search.

Grella leads economic development for Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing arm. He doesn’t have knowledge of — or involvement with — the HQ2 search. Amazon declined to comment on his remarks.

Northern Virginia has long been seen as a favorite for Amazon HQ2, a $5 billion second headquarters that will have room for up to 50,000 employees. But it is also possible that Amazon is in advance talks with more than one city as it nears its final decision. There are 20 cities in the running for HQ2, three of which are in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Amazon plans to make its announcement by the end of the year.