Amazon hiring 800 in HQ2 runner-up Austin

Downtown Austin. (Flickr Photo / Sean Loyless)

Amazon is hiring 800 new tech workers in Austin and expanding into a new 145,000-square foot office in the Texas city.

On Thursday, the company announced plans to grow its Austin Tech Hub, one of 17 Amazon offices throughout North America. Amazon is headquartered in Seattle and is breaking ground on a second headquarters in Northern Virginia.

Why it matters: Austin was one of 20 cities in the running for “Amazon HQ2,” the year-long sweepstakes in which cities competed for the tech giant’s 50,000-person second headquarters.

The background: Last November, Amazon announced it would split its HQ2 between Northern Virginia and New York City. A few months later, Amazon pulled out of the New York project amid opposition from elected officials and activists.

Note this: Scholars expected this to happen. Early on, prominent urbanists like Richard Florida called Amazon’s contest a “large-scale, crowdsourced corporate locational strategy.” When Amazon announced the winners, Florida told GeekWire, “It wouldn’t surprise me to hear, in coming months, ‘We’re going to put a Latin American headquarters in Miami. We’re going to put a major artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicle facility in Pittsburgh … I think this was always about sourcing, siting much more than just a single headquarters.”

Is this town big enough for the both of them? Amazon will be competing with Apple, among other tech companies, to fill those 800 roles. In December, Apple announced plans to build a 15,000-person campus in Austin. The approach was noticeably more low-key than Amazon’s.

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