Seattle Welcoming Even More Silicon Valley Firms

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What’s New This Quarter

As always, Seattle’s heaviest tech hitters provide the most interesting hiring (and firing) headlines, but at the same time, it’s intriguing to note just how many Silicon Valley companies are setting up local satellite offices to tap into the city’s huge IT talent pool.

Not only did Amazon increase its seasonal hires in 2014 to 80,000 (up from 70,000 in 2013), it also said it hopes to convert thousands of those holiday workers into full-time employees in the New Year. In October, the company’s worldwide workforce stood at nearly 150,000 people, up from about 110,000 employees the year prior, and the expansion is by no means over yet. Within five years, Amazon plans to have 10 million square feet of office space in Seattle’s core, double its current occupancy. Real estate watchers believe that 71,500 people could fit into that space, which would make Amazon into Seattle’s largest employer (and second-largest statewide, behind Boeing).

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Real estate giant Zillow is also expanding in downtown Seattle and will soon occupy 12 floors in the Russell Investment Center. The company employs 750 people in the city and is hiring for about 100 more positions.

Meanwhile, across the lake at Microsoft, things haven’t been as bullish. In October, 3,000 employees were laid off, the last wave of an 18,000-person layoff that eliminated 14 percent of the workforce. Around 638 of this round of layoffs were made in the Seattle area.

Maybe those who departed Microsoft should apply at Alibaba, which is leasing space from Synapse in a downtown building on Sixth Avenue and is seeking additional space for up to 300 workers, mostly engineers.

Or perhaps the ex-Microsofties could apply at Apple, which has advertised for engineers interested in working at an office in Seattle. Apple already has about 30 engineers working in town, five of whom were formerly with Union Bay Networks, a cloud networking startup that caught Apple’s eye.

Some other recent hiring stories of note:

  • Booking.com, which is part of Priceline, is growing in Seattle after acquiring local startup Buuteeq in July.
  • CenturyLink is building a cloud-engineering center in Bellevue and plans to add 150 employees in 2015.
  • Climate Corp. arrived in Pioneer Square in 2012 and plans to double from 45 to 90 tech workers when it moves to a larger space later this year.
  • Facebook opened a small engineering office in Seattle in 2010; now it plans to take over the top two floors of the Macy’s building in downtown Seattle, where it could accommodate as many as 500 workers.
  • Google has announced plans to expand its Kirkland campus, adding enough room for an additional 700 employees.
  • Groupon has more than 200 workers in Seattle and plans to grow its office by 40 to 50 percent.
  • HP’s Helion cloud engineering effort is located in Seattle. The company plans to add more than 200 workers in 2015.
  • Oracle, which is also new in town, is attempting to hire more than 100 engineers for its new office.

If Microsoft plans to do any hiring at all, perhaps it should consider the resume of six-year-old Ayan Qureshi of Coventry, England. Young Ayan passed the Microsoft Certified Professional test when he was just five and enjoys playing with the network he has set up at home.

Skills in Demand

“IT hiring activity is strongest within the professional services sector, but we’re also seeing demand in nontraditional areas such as education, where organizations are moving toward digital platforms,” said Sara Eide, Seattle regional vice president of IT recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. “Professionals with expertise in Web development, Java, ASP.NET, and all areas of infrastructure—help desk, desktop support, and networking—continue to be in high demand.”

Sixty-eight percent of Seattle technology executives surveyed by Robert Half Technology said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their respective IT departments. Desktop support and wireless network management followed, with 64 percent and 60 percent of the response, respectively.

Salary Trends

According to the 2014-2013 Dice Salary Survey, the average salary for a Seattle-based IT professional is $95,048, up 0.8 percent in the previous year and 8.2 percent above the national average of $87,811.

Leading Industries

  • Telecom
  • Aerospace
  • E-commerce
  • Software Development
  • Cloud Technology
  • Healthcare

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