More than a month after Amazon’s thundering abandonment of its famous New York HQ2, Jeff Bezos’ group will expand to the Texas capital Austin. According to the Austin Statesman, the e-commerce giant will create nearly 800 jobs in its technology hub in the city. The new positions, which are expected to focus on software and hardware engineering, scientific research and cloud computing, will be added to the more than 6,600 jobs created by Amazon.
A thousand of these positions have been created over the past four years, said Tery Leeper, general manager of Amazon’s Tech Hub in Austin. He also assured that Amazon’s plan to expand its operations in Austin had been underway for several years and was not influenced by the cancellation of its HQ2 in New York in mid-February. It should be noted that the Texas capital was on the shortlist of 20 potential cities for the group’s second headquarters, before being ruled out for the (temporary) benefit of New York, and Arlington, Virginia. The group should not benefit from any financial advantages for this extension, one of the points of tension that derailed the New York case.
Festival Tech, Silicon Hills
Austin maintains its image as an American Tech hub with the South by South West, its annual festival that has been mixing music, cinema, and technology since 1987. The 2018 edition brought together a total of nearly 309,000 people. An event that has undoubtedly contributed over the years to the establishment in the city of companies such as Facebook, Google, Samsung, Dell, Walmart or Comcast, which have opened main offices or technology hubs. Silicon Hills, the technology cluster of companies in the Austin metropolitan area, also hosts offices of Advanced Micro Devices, ARM Holdings, Cisco, eBay, ESO, IBM, Indeed, Intel, Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments, Oracle Corporation, and VMWare.
There is no doubt that Amazon is looking to take advantage of the city’s technological dynamics. Its Tech Hub in Austin is one of the group’s 17 North American Tech Hubs, a network of development centers also located in Seattle and Virginia. To support these new jobs in the Texas capital, Amazon will expand into new 44,000 square meter offices that should be completed by 2020.
“A solid pool of technical talent.”
Mr. Leeper highlighted “a strong pool of technical talent” in Austin, as well as a “dynamic quality of life” and a “vibrant city.” The city’s population, which also hosts the headquarters of Whole Foods Market, an organic supermarket chain acquired by Amazon in 2017 for $13.7 billion, is gradually approaching the million mark. But its metropolitan region, which includes five counties, has more than two million.
Amazon’s decision to expand to Austin reflects the growing appeal of technology companies to the Texas capital. In December, Apple announced a $1 billion investment to open a new campus in Austin. It should house 5,000 initial employees and will eventually be able to accommodate up to 15,000 employees. The site, located almost one kilometer from the existing apple brand premises in the city, is also intended for engineering centers, but also R&D, finance, sales and customer relations. Apple, which has been present in the town since 1992, had until then employed 7,000 people there. In 2016, the Cupertino firm opened its Parmer Campus there, with an investment of $282.5 million.