Seattle Apple Expansion, Oracle Layoffs Churn Tech Scene

Apple is growing its presence in Seattle, with plans to add as many as 2,000 hardware- and software-related positions in the city over the next few years.

The company is leasing two 12-story buildings that can technically hold 3,000 employees, which Mayor Jenny Durkan saw as encouraging. “If you look at where they’ve grown elsewhere in the country, their growth has been exponential to what they anticipated,” she said, according to The Seattle Times. “And so I think it’s a really good sign.”

Apple apparently made its Seattle deal without tax incentives. That stands in stark contrast to Amazon, which bitterly fought attempts by Seattle’s government to impose a tax on employees, and pulled out of discussions to build a new headquarters (dubbed “HQ2”) in New York City after local politicians protested the proposed tax breaks. (In the wake of Amazon’s departure, Google crowed about how it expanded in New York City without any tax sweeteners, showing that these companies aren’t above using their balance sheets in their unending PR wars.)  

Apple had previously pledged to build new officesin a number of U.S. cities, including Austin, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles. As planned, these facilities are quite sizable. For instance, the Austin campus will cost roughly $1 billion and house 5,000 employees at the outset, with room to expand to 15,000; the other offices will have at least 1,000 employees each.

Meanwhile, Apple has expanded its footprint in Cupertino, its home base. Apple Park, its massive new headquarters (informally dubbed “The Spaceship,” because it looks like a UFO), opened to employees in April 2017. It reportedly holds 12,000 workers and offers a ludicrous array of amenities (in addition to sleek design by Jony Ive, the design guru responsible for the look of the iPhone and other company products).

This massive expansion hints at a company still in aggressive growth mode, decades after its founding and despite fears that sales of its core product are stagnating

Seattle Oracle Layoffs

On the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, is Oracle, which reportedly laid off hundreds of employees in its Seattle facility (so reports Business Insider). These layoffs are supposedly part of a broader sweep, and might have something to do with the company’s overall cloud strategy.

Specifically, news reports suggest there’s a good deal of infighting between Oracle’s various cloud teams, as well as a broader struggle for the resources necessary in order to compete against Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure, and Google’s enterprise-cloud offerings. By the time the dust settles, Oracle may end up cutting some 10 percent of its total employee headcount, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Whatever’s going on, if Oracle doesn’t get cloudier, its business could run a very serious risk of falling behind its rivals.