Google opened the first phase of its shiny new Boulder campus this past winter, and now a different tech giant is giving local economic development officials and pending computer science grads another reason to celebrate.
This fall, Amazon will move dozens of advertising-focused engineers into a three-story office building in the heart of Boulder at 1900 15th St., company officials said Wednesday.
The e-commerce powerhouse has created more than 1,500 warehouse and office jobs in what it refers to as the Denver-Boulder-Broomfield “tech hub” in the last two years, company officials say.
“We knew we (are) going to grow quickly,” said Tim Craycroft, Amazon’s vice president of multi-channel advertising who will be leading the crew at the 37,000-square-foot space. “We’re excited about being in Boulder and the talent pool that is here. We’re just getting started.”
A grand opening date hasn’t been nailed down, Craycroft said, but he and his team, now working at a shared office space in downtown Boulder, are excited for the move. He said the space provides room for “a lot” of engineers but stopped short of saying how many people will work there in the fall or when the office will be fully staffed. Google’s multi-phase Boulder office will eventually have room for 1,500 staff.
Amazon currently employs around 250 high-paid engineers in offices spread between Denver, Boulder and Broomfield, officials say, and it is advertising more than 100 open IT and engineering jobs in the area online at amazon.jobs.
“It feels like a place where we’re developing our own Amazonian version of the Boulder culture, or a Boulder version of Amazonian culture here,” Craycroft said. “And having the freedom, having the canvas to do that is pretty important.”
Portions of the building were still being polished Wednesday, but Amazon’s modern office touch is substantially in place. The walls near the elevator doors on the second and third floors are adorned with Amazon’s leadership principles including “think big,” and “learn and be curious.” The basement has a bike storage and service space, as well as comfy chairs and couches where employees can retreat to decompress or play video games. In a very Boulder touch, the atrium is crisscrossed with strands of different colored climbing rope. A box in the lobby provides a tutorial on common knots.
Count Boulder Economic Council Executive Director Clif Harald among the people who had been itching to know what was going on in the building, just a block off Pearl Street Mall across the street from the post office, during its summer-long remodel. The red-tinged structure was originally home to a law firm before being occupied by a team with the Microsoft-born search engine Bing.
Harald isn’t surprised Amazon has come to town in such a big way. Some of the same things Craycroft talks about as attracting the company – proximity to the University of Colorado and its engineering programs, a strong ecosystem of established tech companies and a strong and durable startup scene – were reflected in the council’s recently released Boulder Innovation Venture Report. The report found that on a per capita basis, Boulder is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to tech talent and opportunity, Harald said.
“Tech talent and tech leaders are feeling comfortable about doing business here, pursuing jobs here, starting new businesses here,” Harald said of the broader Denver-Boulder region.
Craycroft made it clear Wednesday the advertising office is not connected to Amazon’s much-publicized search for a location for a second headquarters. The Denver metro region made the list of 20 finalists in the HQ2 search, which is now getting close to moving into its second year, but not much has been released publicly about the search since March.
“We are still under consideration. And we are looking forward to next steps with the company as they proceed,” Sam Bailey of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., the private entity that prepared Colorado’s bid package for Amazon, said Wednesday before taking time to celebrate the forthcoming Boulder office. “We’re thrilled that we continue to support Amazon’s long-term growth in the region and strengthen the relationship that we’ve had for years.”
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