Apple goes big in Seattle: New campus escalates rivalry with Amazon, Microsoft and Google

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(Flickr Photo / Håkan Dahlström, Creative Commons 2.0)

Apple’s new campus in Seattle, unveiled this week, will accommodate as many as 2,000 workers, doubling the company’s previous commitment to expand its engineering operations in the city.

But beyond the sheer numbers, the expansion positions the company to compete more aggressively for talent against rivals including Amazon, Google and Microsoft. It also promises to make Seattle a bigger epicenter for cloud engineering, artificial intelligence and voice technologies.

Siri’s new home? Apple declined to go into detail about the specific focus of its expanded Seattle engineering initiatives, beyond saying that iCloud would be part of its hiring plans. But there are plenty of clues. The company already has a big focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence in the city, and current job listings show 32 available positions in Seattle that mention its Siri voice assistant, more than half of its 50 total open jobs in the region, as GeekWire reported on Thursday.

No incentives: Apple did not receive any government incentives in exchange for the job creation in Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan said. This contrasts with Amazon’s search for its second headquarters. The Seattle tech company’s request for incentives was one of the most controversial aspects of its HQ2 search.

Rising up the ranks: With capacity for 2,000 people at the new campus, Apple’s new campus will rank among the largest of the more than 100 engineering outposts established in the region by out-of-town tech companies. Facebook and Google each have more than 3,000 people in the region.

Apple’s Kristina Raspe, Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland, and Mayor Jenny Durkan speak at Apple’s new Seattle campus. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Apple’s larger expansion: The new Seattle campus is part of a broader plan by Apple to boost its presence in emerging tech hubs beyond Silicon Valley. In December, Apple unveiled a plan to build a 15,000-person campus in Austin, Texas, with 1,000-person offices in Seattle, Culver City, Calif., and San Diego. The new announcement doubles the planned sized of Apple’s Seattle campus.

Tech keeps booming. For Durkan, the announcement was part of a tech-focused week that also included a visit to Expedia’s new Seattle campus and Amazon’s newest building in the city. These growth initiatives come on the heels of Salesforce reaching a deal to acquire Seattle’s Tableau Software, with co-founder Marc Benioff declaring that Seattle will be Salesforce “HQ2.”

We explore the implications of these moves on this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, with civic editor Monica Nickelsburg and reporter Kurt Schlosser. Listen to the episode above, or subscribe in your favorite podcast app.

Plus: Bill Gates and Jeff Bee-zos, Windows 95 makes a cameo at the Supreme Court, Teen Vogue’s transition, Russell Wilson makes memes come true, and Slack meets Slack.

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