Google, Amazon, Facebook Bet Big on New York City Revival

Some of tech’s biggest companies have been rapidly expanding in New York City over the past several months, despite broader concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic will lessen the need for formal office space for the foreseeable future.

According to an analysis by The New York Times, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple have collectively hired 2,600 employees this year. Right now, all four companies have roughly 22,000 employees working in the city, a small but significant portion of their global workforces.

“The big takeaway here is that New York will always be a tech hub,” William Floyd, director of external affairs for Google’s New York offices, told the Times. Indeed, Google recently secured an additional 1.7 million square feet of office space for its growing campus on the city’s West Side—more than the 1.6 million square feet secured in 2020 by Apple, Amazon, and Facebook combined. 

As part of this growth, these tech firms could remake some iconic spaces in Manhattan. Amazon plans on moving into a massive Midtown building once occupied by Lord & Taylor; a few blocks away, Facebook is taking over the stately Farley Building, which is a New York City Landmark. (A few months ago, Facebook announced that employees could work remotely on a full-time basis, but that policy hasn’t seemed to impact the company’s hunger for physical office space.)  

It’s quite a change from mid-2019, when many pundits were worried that large companies would abandon New York City after Amazon’s attempt to build a huge “HQ2” headquarters imploded in the face of local pushback. But Amazon turned around and leased 335,000 square feet of office space in the then-new Hudson Yards complex on the city’s West Side. Before the pandemic hit, Google and Facebook were also in intense negotiations over office space, and neither the virus nor the related rise in remote work seem to have derailed those plans. 

All of these companies, of course, are feeding off New York’s talent pool. Over the past 90 days alone, the city has managed to outpace even Silicon Valley in terms of demand for tech talent: 

Even as companies across the country wrestle with whether to give up formal office space and shift their employees entirely to remote work, it seems that some of tech’s biggest giants are making an expensive bet on New York real estate. That’s good news for the New York City’s economy, at least—and for the technologists who live there.