Amazon is Moving Worldwide Operations Out of Seattle

Posted on April 4, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon with 20 Comments

A new report reveals that Amazon plans to move its Seattle-based Worldwide Operations Team outside of the city to nearby Bellevue, Washington.

“We’re planning to migrate worldwide operations to Bellevue starting this year,” Amazon senior vice president Dave Clark wrote in an email to employees this week. “This move gives room to grow while maintaining the campus feel that we’ve come to love around South Lake Union.”

As you may know, the Seattle area is the home of two tech giants, Microsoft and Amazon, but only Amazon is actually headquartered in the city of Seattle. Microsoft’s headquarters is in Redmond, a suburb of Bellevue to the west of Seattle and Lake Washington. (Microsoft has large office complexes in and around Bellevue, outside of Redmond, as well.) So when Amazon moves its Worldwide Operations Team to Bellevue, it will be joining Microsoft as a major tech presence in that city.

This will exacerbate the problems Microsoft has brought to the area, which include overcrowding, horrific traffic, and explosive home prices. Based on my personal experiences there, yes, there is more room for expansion on Lake Washington’s west side. But that’s a low bar, given how congested and full Seattle proper is at the moment. It’s already wildly over-crowed on the west side.

News of Amazon’s Worldwide Operations Team relocation was first reported by Geekwire and then later confirmed by the online retailing giant. And yes, I checked the date to make sure this wasn’t a terrible April Fool’s joke. Which is what the move will feel like to people already living in and around Bellevue and Redmond.

“We opened our first office building in Bellevue in 2017,” an Amazon statement notes. “It’s a city with great amenities, a high-quality of life for our employees, and fantastic talent – and it’s recognized for its business-friendly environment. We look forward to continue growing our presence in Bellevue and bring more jobs to the city.”

The firm currently employs 45,000 workers in Seattle, and it will retain its headquarters there. But it will begin moving the “critical” Worldwide Operations Team to Bellevue this month. Amazon expects several thousand employees to be there “in the years ahead” and hopes to complete the move by 2023. By which time the west side will be completely inhabitable.

So why move?

Amazon’s relationship with Seattle has always been fractious, and the tech giant infamously forced Seattle to drop a planned tax that was aimed at relieving the housing crisis caused by Amazon’s rapid expansion in the city. The report suggests this move is largely a symbolic gesture aimed at punishing Seattle while still enabling the company to take advantage of the area’s workforce base.

The move is unrelated to Amazon’s HQ2 debacle in New York and had been in the planning stages for years, the firm claims.

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