Dropbox is growing its Seattle footprint in a big way.
The Bay Area-based file storage and sharing giant has taken four floors totaling 120,886 square feet at the 38-story 2 + U office tower being built in downtown Seattle, GeekWire has learned. It will be a big step up from the 40,000 square-foot office the company occupies today at the Columbia Center.
When ready in the fourth quarter of next year, the new Seattle office will become the company’s largest office outside of San Francisco in both square footage and engineer population.
“When we looked at how well we have done in Seattle in terms of growing the office, finding great talent across machine learning and mobile and web and infrastructure, and looking ahead several years, we really wanted to try to find a space to grow and expand,” said Greg Conklin, Dropbox’s Seattle site lead.
The company doesn’t break out headcount for its offices, but using industry-standard ratios of 150 square feet to 200 square feet per person as an estimate, the new office could hold roughly 600 to 800 employees. The current office holds about 200 to 250 people, using that same formula.
Dropbox will look to use some of that extra space to replicate a key amenity from its San Francisco HQ: A souped up cafeteria called the Tuck Shop. That term in some parts of the world refers to a small eatery, and Dropbox likes to use The Tuck Shop and other food offerings to attract talent and grease collaboration at the office.
The new tower, being developed and built by Skanska at Second Avenue and University Street in downtown Seattle, will also be home to job search engine Indeed and co-working company Spaces. The uniquely-designed tower relies on pillars lifting the office portion 85 feet off the ground, leaving room for an “urban village” underneath, with retail, restaurants and gathering spaces.
Dropbox is one of more than 120 companies from around the world that have established engineering beachheads in Seattle to get access to the region’s top-tier tech talent. The company first announced its Seattle entrance in 2014 and opened up an office the following year.
In recent years, homegrown and out-of-town companies struggled to find big chunks of office space, especially in newer downtown towers. Amazon’s voracious appetite for growth — the company employs 45,000 in Seattle — saw it snap up virtually every big chunk of office space in the area, and other players couldn’t compete.
But Amazon’s growth in its hometown has slowed, opening up opportunities for companies such as Dropbox in need of more office space to house new hires.
Dropbox was rumored as a candidate to take space in the Rainier Tower office building that Amazon no longer plans to occupy. Conklin said the company looked at a number of different projects, but the combination of location, interesting design and trendy retail in the new tower put it over the top.
More than half the people working in the Seattle office are engineers, Conklin said. Work on the Dropbox Android app is mostly based in Seattle, as are several teams working on the core file storage products. The Seattle office also has machine learning and search expertise.
Conklin joined Dropbox as the Seattle site lead in January 2017. He also spent six years at Seattle-based RealNetworks and worked for a startup that got acquired by Groupon.
Conklin spent time in both San Francisco and Seattle, and he said he is seeing a greater pipeline between the two cities, in both directions.
“There’s quite a bit of connectivity between Seattle and San Francisco,” Conklin said. “There’s certainly a number of Silicon Valley-based companies that have opened satellite offices here, but even the other way around where you see some Seattle-based companies building out offices in San Francisco.”
Dropbox currently lists 15 open positions for the Seattle office. Nine of them are in the engineering department, with a heavy emphasis on software engineers and engineering managers.
Dropbox went public in March 2018, one of several software companies to complete IPOs last year. The company’s stock has dropped 30 percent since a big opening bump when it began trading, but it remains above the $21 offering price.
The company occupies an interesting slice of the cloud services market powered by homegrown infrastructure. It claims 500 million registered users in 180 countries, though only 12.7 million of them are paid, according to the company’s most recent quarterly report. Dropbox competes in a crowded market, battling rivals such as Google, Box and many others in both personal and enterprise file sharing.