Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Amazon to build second US$5b headquarters

Published:Friday | September 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Amazon's Prime Air drone is seen during a test of the drone technology. The growing online shopping company is looking for proeprty to develop a second headquarters.

Amazon Inc, bursting out of its Seattle headquarters, is hunting for a second home.

It needs a prime location, close to mass transit, with plenty of space to grow.

The company said Thursday that it will spend more than US$5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. It plans to stay in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the new space will be "a full equal" of its current home, said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon's announcement highlights how fast the company is expanding and is certain to create a scramble among cities and states vying to make the shortlist. They have a little more than a month to apply through a special website, and the company said it will make a final decision next year.

It didn't hint about where it might land, but its requirements could rule out some places: It wants to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and wants to be able to expand that headquarters to as much as eight million square feet in the next decade. That's about the same size as its current home in Seattle. Co-headquarters, though, often come about as a result of mergers.

Amazon said its search is open to any metropolitan area in North America that meets the parameters - the city itself doesn't necessarily have to be a million people - but declined to say how open it was to going outside of the United States.

"We want to find a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit," the company said on its search website, about why it was choosing its second headquarters through a public process.

Bezos has crowdsourced major decisions before - in June, just before Amazon announced its plan to buy organic grocer Whole Foods, the billionaire took to Twitter seeking ideas for a philanthropic strategy to give away some of his fortune.

In just the last month, Amazon announced plans to build three new warehouses that pack and ship packages in New York, Ohio and Oregon. And it recently paid close to US$14 billion for Whole Foods and its more than 465 stores. The company plans to hire 100,000 people by the middle of next year, adding to its current worldwide staff of more than 380,000.

Amazon's current campus in Seattle takes up 8.1 million square feet, has 33 buildings and 24 restaurants and is home to more than 40,000 employees. At the second headquarters, Amazon said it will hire up to 50,000 new full-time employees over the next 15 years, who would have an average pay of more than US$100,000 a year.

- AP