It took 32 years, but Microsoft appears to be finally crossing Lake Washington and opening a significant office in Seattle.
That’s how I’m reading a press advisory issued this morning, setting up a news conference that Microsoft is holding Thursday morning at Paul Allen’s real estate sales office in South Lake Union.
Headlined “Microsoft Expands Presence in Seattle,” the advisory says the conference is being held “to unveil future plans for Microsoft Corp.’s Seattle expansion.”
The release notes that the event is across the street from a new building complex under construction at 2200 Westlake, across the street from Whole Foods.
Microsoft has had several outposts in the city over the years, including the former Visio offices near the Pike Place Market, an online research group operating in the Smith Tower and the downtown offices of its newly acquired aQuantive subsidiary.
Yet the company has never bought or leased a large, marquee building in Seattle. That’s a marked contrast to its sprawling campus in Redmond, which has filled a large part of the Overlake area with dozens of big, free-standing mid-rise office buildings.
Paul Allen may have called on his old pal Bill Gates to fill buildings that were originally pitched as biotech offices.
But I’ll bet Google was a bigger reason for Microsoft to finally move west. The two companies are in a pitched battle for software talent, especially recent college graduates with the latest skills.
Google now has a bigger variety of Seattle-area offices to offer, including space in Fremont and its new campus in Kirkland. A Microsoft office in South Lake Union, walking distance to downtown and Belltown, could even things up.
(Though Microsoft may have second thoughts after it sees how the streetcar Allen demanded for his real estate venture has destroyed Westlake, making it a huge pain to drive from the neighborhood to I-5 and on to Redmond.)