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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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Amazon is Moving Worldwide Operations Out of Seattle”

  1. Avatar

    Patrick3D

    Weird, last time I visited Bellevue it was to the East of Seattle, it has been over 10 years since I was last there though.

    • Avatar

      rlbumpus

      In reply to Patrick3D:

      Exactly. Bellevue and REdmond are on the Eastside. Bellevue is generally more business friendly. The Seattle city council blames all the homeless ills on Amazon. The truth is more nuanced. Amazon has brought great wealth to SEattle and not just to the tech elite but to all involved in Construction and services around that. Yes, wealth has made the city less affordable, but much of the problem is the rapidity. HOusing and services have had a difficult time keeping up. But rents are flatlining now and there is much more housing in construction. Zoning had to change to allow for more density. Many people would like for things to stay the same but I moved into Amazon territory 8 years ago and watched the area transform from an ugly, largely forgotten part of town into a thriving community where people can work, live and play without cars. it's a great place to live, and it takes a lot of cars off the road., too.


  2. Avatar

    MrKirbs

    This move seems less like spite and more about the fact that even with all the construction Amazon has done in downtown Seattle, there's still not enough room to comfortably house everyone who works at the HQ

  3. Avatar

    bluvg

    I haven't visited Seattle for a decade+, but does the "Seattle is Dying" (https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpAi70WWBlw) thing play into it? (I have no idea how accurate the documentary is)

    • Avatar

      regex021

      In reply to bluvg:

      Hi bluvg, I live in Seattle and yes, that documentary went viral and illustrates the frustrations we are dealing with. It is a complex problem, but the fact that Seattle welcome drifters and homeless from other states exacerbates the issue. They don't enforce trespassing laws in Seattle anymore.

      • Avatar

        bluvg

        In reply to regex021:

        That's very sad. When I visited Seattle, it was lovely, but it sounds no longer attractive as a vacation destination. Did Amazon's stance against the proposed tax have anything to do with what is happening?

        • Avatar

          hrlngrv

          In reply to bluvg:

          Seattle itself may not be so pleasant any more, but driving US-2 from greater Seattle to Spokane is worthwhile, especially when the blackberries are ripe.

        • Avatar

          regex021

          In reply to bluvg:

          The head tax was just the local government trying to get more money to deal with homelessness and housing. They wanted Amazon and other large companies to pay for it, however, both companies and citizens are sick of giving them more money. The more millions they get, the worse the problem is, I have not seen any improvement over the last 10 years, on the contrary, it is probably three times as bad as it was 10 years ago. What they are doing with our money? The easiest answer is corruption.

  4. Avatar

    MikeGalos

    Most likely too many of Amazon's senior staff live on the Eastside and didn't want the bridge commute.


    On the other hand, the light rail line will extend to Bellevue and as far into Redmond as Microsoft's campus in the next couple of years so that commute won't be as onerous for them. Additionally. there are a couple of micro-cities (combination office park and shopping and restaurants and condominiums and apartments in one complex) going in to Bellevue and Redmond in the next couple of years, too.


    Amazon moving into the South Lake Union area of Seattle has been a bit of a disaster for them and the city itself. The infrastructure really didn't handle the growth in auto traffic since it was planned around bike lanes and people living in the same neighborhood and that did not happen in sufficient quantity to keep up with Amazon. Additionally, the physical layout of Seattle really doesn't allow for more major roads due to it being on a very hilly isthmus where Microsoft's growth on the Eastside hasn't been a big problem since Bellevue and Redmond could grow vertically and had room for road growth and expansion could go to out other towns like Kirkland and Issaquah.

  5. Avatar

    orbsitron

    Minor geographical correction - Redmond (and Bellevue) are both east of Seattle, not west.


    Similarly, when "west side" is mentioned in this article, readers should mentally replace that with "east side".


    The "west side" is Seattle proper and the "east side" includes the suburbs of Redmond and Bellevue (and others like Kirkland - home to the first Costco warehouse, hence the Kirkland Signature brand as well as some other tech companies).

    • Avatar

      Chris Payne

      In reply to orbsitron:

      I swear the journalistic integrity on this site is shot. Articles are full of typos and incorrect facts and Paul claiming to be the genisis of every good idea. Sad when I used to use this site for insider info, now when I see something here first I have to fact check it elsewhere. Up the quality, please!

      • Avatar

        regex021

        In reply to unkinected:

        Agree on the latest inaccuracies and decrease of quality. I wonder if they have anybody reviewing the posts before they go public? Interesting to note that this started happening after Paul stopped eating gluten and suddenly became 'allergic' to carbs. I am actually concerned about his diet and health. The mainstream media (in concert with the meat and dairy industry) has brainwashed people into thinking carbs are bad and make you gain weight. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Scientifically proven thousands of times that meat and dairy will kill you (cancer, cardio decease, Alzheimer, dementia, obesity, etc). I am doing plant-based and lost 25 pounds and never gain them back. All I eat is bread, pasta, potatoes and beans all I want without gaining a pound. So, please Paul, stop listening to your wife or the corporate media that come up with these diets (keto and paleo anyone?) manufactured by the meat & dairy industry to make more money. They don't care about your health. And please, drink beer (unless you are really allergic or intolerant to gluten), it won't make you fat, it is the other crap you are eating. And hey guys, this is coming from a guy that used to eat steak and eggs everyday, it was my life or my steak, I chose my life. I love Paul, been following him for like 15 years, he helped me discover good Belgian style beer (La Fin Du Monde poster) on the wall during podcasts and I hate tripels and other hoppy beer just like him! Just concerned. Oh crap, sorry unkinected for hijacking your post! :( By the way, this book saved my life, read it: https://www.amazon.com/Starch-Solution-Regain-Health-Weight/dp/1623360277

        • Avatar

          solomonrex

          In reply to regex021:


          I think Paul's diet is probably fine. I did the same thing (less red meat though) and I was far better with my memory, multitasking and sleeping (all correlated). We all have different metabolisms.


          More likely, I think he's a small independent businessman and his business is undergoing a lot of change (podcasting, mobile, the cloud) and it's as difficult for him to focus as it is for MS or any of us. Criticize MS and get attacked, take it easy on MS and be irrelevant, cover the Control Panel in detail and lose clicks. Check twitter, check the store, check Windows Update, check email check Android, check IOS and on and on and on. He was publishing a Windows 10 book not too long ago, now it's more out of date every quarter.


          And as a journalist, every mistake is published and scrutinized, but yes, there needs to be some fixes for basics like 'Is Redmond East of Seattle'. Someone at least scan the comments please for fixes and spam.


          Well, whatever, anyway, Le Fin Du Monde is absolutely the best, bar none, let's raise a glass and hope to hell we make it through the last gasp of the baby boomers in America.

    • Avatar

      MikeGalos

      In reply to orbsitron:

      One Kirkland tech company of note is Google's northwest office complex (located there for ex-Microsoft people who don't want to move to Silicon Valley).

  6. Avatar

    eeisner

    For anyone in the Seattle area hoping this helps with traffic downtown - not a chance. All we can hope is that by expanding to Bellevue, there's enough pressure from both Microsoft and Amazon to expand the public transit options available. While light rail going to/from the East Side is going to help, that's still a few years out and definitely won't be enough.

  7. Avatar

    glenn8878

    Liberal politics at its best. They eat their own.

  8. Avatar

    Mark Hancheroff

    Amazon is moving from Seattle to.... Greater Seattle.

  9. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    . . . Redmond, a suburb of Bellevue to the west of Seattle and Lake Washington. . . . [emphasis added]

    Lake Washington and Bellevue are east of Seattle, and Redmond is northeast of Bellevue.

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