Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)
Seattle, don’t take Amazon’s search for a second headquarters personally.
The company’s CEO of Worldwide Consumer Jeff Wilke said at the 2017 GeekWire Summit that Amazon now has 50,000 people in Seattle — the same amount it could eventually hire at HQ2. Another 6,000 jobs are coming, and Amazon is gearing up to occupy 2 million more square feet of office space in its hometown.
But anyone who lives here, or is looking for office space, knows Seattle is filling up. The move to HQ2 is about finding some more room to breath — Amazon said it could occupy as much as 8 million square feet in whichever city it chooses — and luring the best talent.
“Not everybody wants to live in the Northwest,” said Wilke, who grew up in Pittsburgh. “It’s been terrific for me and my family, but I think we may find another location allows us to recruit a different collection of employees.”
Amazon is going to make a data-driven decision about where to put HQ2, and wacky stunts probably won’t do much to move the needle, Wilke said. Some of Amazon’s parameters include a metro area with more than 1 million people, quality transit options and incentives from local governments.
But Wilke has a requirement, or at least a wish, of his own when it comes to HQ2.
“Something I’ve been talking about when people ask me this question, I hope we choose a city that has focused on STEM education, particularly in computer science in public high schools and middle schools in the area,” Wilke said.
The deadline for cities to submit applications for HQ2 is Oct. 19, and Amazon will make its decision next year. Wilke says he has no idea where the second headquarters is going. He noted it is not a foregone conclusion, despite all the opinions out there.
“The number of times in the last few weeks I’ve had very smart people say to me ‘I’m convinced it will be blank’ and blank is different in lots of cases, so we’ll see,” Wilke said.