Millions of dollars are being planned to be expended by Microsoft for refurbishing its present campus in the Seattle area even as its neighbor in the region and another American IT giant -Amazon.com is looking out for a second headquarters in a different place.
Microsoft’s campus at Redmond, Wash., the leafy Seattle suburb has been its headquarters since 1986 ad the 500 acre property is set to get a major overhaul.
Still more open work environments would be created in about 18 new buildings which would be taller than the 12 older buildings that would be pulled down to give space for the newer ones. It has been reported that about 2.5 million square feet will be added to the existing about 15 million square feet of space and the new space would be able to accommodate an extra 8,000 employees.
Because of the fact that a large number of technology companies need more space as they grow, therefore Microsoft’s redevelopment would not be a standout project and is expected to be completed in five to seven years.
But this project signifies another aspect of Microsoft – its resurgence in the last few years, led by its new leader Satya Nadela. For him, refreshing the work culture at Microsoft was a top priority. The recent growth of the company is sought to be symbolized by the bigger and more modern campus for many.
But for Amazon, which is the younger and yet busier of the two IT companies, the difference is quite obvious. Cities and regions in the U.S. scrambled with each other to offer the best tax deals and multiple other promises to ensure that their city or region manages to clinch the proposed 50,000 new and high paying jobs at Amazon after the plans for a second headquarters was announced the world’s largest e-retailer. There were 238 bids that were received by Amazon from various parts of North America, the company had said, and it is now making a careful selection of the finalists with the announcement of the winner scheduled for early next year.
There has been much introspection in Seattle following Amazon’s decision. While a section of the local population is worried about the loosing competitive edge of the city, others would not be that worried if Amazon left the region as there has been rising housing prices, traffic congestions and all of the other indicators of a booming economy.
“I don’t think we’re out to make a statement about what anyone else is doing or not doing,” he said. “We think this is the right decision for us,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, about the company’s intention not to comment on Amazon when talking about the expansion by the company in Seattle.
However, a slight dig at Amazon was made by Mr. Smith. “When it comes to headquarters, one is enough, we feel,” he said.
“My gut reaction is, ‘Wow, they seem kind of out of touch,’” said Dan Bertolet, a researcher at Sightline Institute, a nonprofit in Seattle focused on sustainability. “All the young people I know who work in the tech industry out there want to be in Seattle. They pooh-pooh places like Redmond.”
It is believed that all of the new talent that tech companies are managing to find want to live in cities and not in suburbs. This is the reason that large private buses are used by companies like Google, Facebook and Apple to bring their employee from the city to their headquarters daily.
One the other hand, companies like Microsoft would have come under flak from affordability advocates who would have complained how low-income people were being pushed out of the city in case the company had decided to move to the main city instead of the suburbs.
(Adapted from Nytimes.com)