Sep 10

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

The Tech Battle in Seattle

View Larger Map - A map of office locations in the Seattle-area; the map legend is below

Competition in the tech job market is heating up in the Seattle are and its showing in the office real estate market. In the past couple of months both Google and Microsoft have announced the intention to open new Seattle offices, Amazon is opening a new building, and Yahoo is moving north as well.

As you can see from the Seattle area map above there is a large body of water (Lake Washington) in the middle. On the left side is Seattle (AKA the Westside), on the right is the Eastside. Both Kirkland and Bellevue are closer to Seattle than Redmond -- a difference that can mean a lot for someone commuting from the Westside.

bus icon
Microsoft is famously in Redmond, but they now have 16 jobs available in Seattle (versus 2693 across the pond). The Seattle openings are for Windows Live, Live Meeting, Zune, and Office in a variety of marketing and product development positions. Most of the Seattle employees will be existing teams, but these listings give us an indication of who may be moving.

This move to Seattle will be a real shift for the company. It can't just put a couple of token teams over in Seattle. Their employees will need to be able to assume that they can have full careers in a single location (like they can in any other remote MS office). The shuttles buses that they recently announced (complete with wifi) will help keep the Seattle-Redmond connection going, but it will still be very difficult for some teams to adjust.

Google opened its first Northwest office in a more-palatable-to-Seattle residents Kirkland in 2004. The office is apparently one of the most successful remote location and is about to expand significantly. Google also intends to expand their Seattle sales office. This will not be as big of a shift for Google as it will be for Microsoft and will aid recruitment. Google has 34 openings for Seattle/Kirkland and 2 openings for Seattle. They are for a lot of different position types. Some of the more interesting ones include, advertising, sales, and Mobile wireless. I think that Google realized that they that stand a better chance of getting employees from Amazon and other Seattle-based companies if they were on the Westside; they also will be able to get Microsofties who are tired of the commute. I suspect that Microsoft feared that they were right.

Yahoo! is also coming to the Northwest via the town of Bellevue. Yahoo! has 9 openings in Bellevue (sorry, not a permalink to the search); they are all in engineering. There are 2 openings in Seattle, for what I believe is an existing Sales office. Yahoo! must be feeling the heat down in Sunnyvale with over 800 openings waiting to be filled perhaps the Northwest developer pool will help.

Seattle-based Amazon has 527 openings for Seattle in all manner of positions. This number includes technical and administrative positions. I recall reading that they are opening a third building in Seattle to handle growth, but can't find any references online. Amazon has always done been in Seattle, but I am sure its Westside-only stance has hurt its recruitment over the years with Eastsiders.

All of these companies are also competing with a rich start-up market as well as smaller big companies like Adobe (purple camera icon) and Real Networks (red audio signal icon). It's a good time to be a Seattle techie -- and a real estate agent.
(Thanks to Todd Bishop and John Cook for their excellent Seattle coverage over the years)

tags: geo, web 2.0  | comments: 13   | Sphere It

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Comments: 13

  Anonymous [09.10.07 10:41 AM]

Most companies seem to have a pretty strong culture of face to face meetings.

People have struggled to make teams with members in different cities work well at my work place since they expanded out of Seattle.

I've never worked there, but I'm told that Google does this very well. I've also never worked at Microsoft, but I expect that they'll have a much harder time making that work.

  Anonymous [09.10.07 12:03 PM]

Really interesting to see this. Thinking about making a move up to the NE, and possibly Vancouver. If anyone knows decent local recruiters feel free to name drop here.

  Search‚ò∏Engines WEB [09.10.07 01:18 PM]

>>>I think that Google realized that they that stand a better chance of getting employees from Amazon and other Seattle-based companies if they were on the Westside; they also will be able to get Microsofties who are tired of the commute. I suspect that Microsoft feared that they were right.

Ambitious tech and mid-management professionals tired of commuting should just consider moving to a closer location.

Getting a career foothold into Google or Microsoft or Amazon is very competitive, they get thousands of resumes from highly qualified professionals across the nation who would gladly move hundreds of miles to get a valuable position in those highly sought after firms. Just like many left home at 18 for distant colleges to get the best eduation

Some of the people living in those areas probably moved from other locations originally for better career opportunities. Some even from other nations. So, what would prevent them from relocating again in the same state. Some are childless adults making good salaries. They would also giving up years of seniority.

  paul [09.11.07 12:00 PM]

Google also has a shop in Fremont, so they are interested in people who don't want to hassle with the cross-lake struggle.

I wonder how thing might be different if Seattle had tackled a really comprehensive transportation plan in the 60s or 70s. A cross-lake rail system might have emerged at some point, perhaps.

  Jason [09.11.07 09:03 PM]

I work at Amazon and have heard rumors of a move to the South Lake Union area (The "Y"-shaped area near the I-5 logo on the map above, to out of towners.) Amazon is pretty convenient as Seattle workplaces go, right in the middle of downtown.

I know a lot of people who get recruited hard by Google but wouldn't consider commuting to the Eastside. I do know that their Fremont office is purely for sales, so it's not an option for everybody. Supposedly they're also planning to lease space downtown at the end of the year.

I guess when Microsoft was a more interesting place the commute would have been an issue for them, too. I don't know anyone who's getting recruited by Microsoft, though I do know people who've left.

The comment above that "Ambitious tech and mid-management professionals tired of commuting should just consider moving to a closer location" seems true, but it's really only an option for young childlless people. Some of the people that these companies really want to recruit are young childless workaholics, and they'll stupidly move to Seattle's equivalent of Mountain View to work for Google. But a lot of the really valuable people are actual grown-ups, with houses, spouses with jobs, and kids in schools, and moving from great neighborhoods like, say, Magnolia or Wallingford to mall-towns like Kirkland's not going to happen.

  Thomas [09.12.07 09:51 AM]

By the way, putting RealNetworks on that map is kind of a joke, right? Not exactly a competitor for the best Seattle talent these days, are they?

  brady [09.12.07 10:13 AM]

They do not seem to be a competitor for the best talent, but they do have their appeal.

If you are looking for a stable, well-paying job, don't care much about being on the "winning team", and want to work on the Westside. Real offers all of these things. The people I know who work there are all relatively happy.

Additionally, the people who went there a couple of years have definitely seen the stock go up ( they wisely sell it as soon as it vests). Real is also getting more competitive salary-wise -- especially if you are in their only valuable product, Rhapsody. It also seems to be an easier place to rise in the ranks than say Amazon or Microsoft.

However Real is not always able to hold on to employees or always attract the top talent. I've seen a couple of people get tired of the beauracracy and begin to look elsewhere.

  Someone [09.14.07 06:18 PM]

I never hear people call it the "west side". it's referred to as "the city".

  Curtains [09.14.07 07:49 PM]

Someone is right. "west side" doesn't mean anything to a Seattlite.

  brady [09.14.07 09:18 PM]

I have lived here for 7 years. I learned the "West Side" while working on the East Side. It was a common term amongst the Seattleites that I worked with at MSN and I have heard it from many others.

  Anonymous [09.14.07 11:30 PM]

Right Brady, they're the same ones who say Pike's Market. They ain't from here.

  Video Conferencing Consultant [09.19.07 08:32 PM]

I think Google would be a great place to work at!

  Billigflug [09.04.08 07:01 AM]

Yes, google is a good place to work, as they do everything to don´t make you wanna go home. So they offer many benefits. Although I´ve heard that they have eased their criterions it is still hart to get in. Hmmm, try it!:D

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