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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 22, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Twitter sees Seattle as next big engineering center

Two years after hiring a few engineers in Seattle, Twitter now has 50 employees in a downtown office that could become its largest engineering center outside of its San Francisco headquarters.

The status update came Wednesday from engineering chiefs Chris Fry and Raffi Krikorian, who flew up for a private, ceremonial opening of the company’s new digs in the Century Square building.

Fry, senior vice president of engineering, has done this before. He previously worked at San Francisco-based Salesforce.com where he oversaw the opening of a Seattle engineering outpost in 2010.

He noted that Seattle and San Francisco both have strong universities coupled with major technology companies and “a great startup culture.”

Krikorian, left, and Fry, right

Krikorian, left, and Fry, right

“Definitely when I’m thinking about where do we expand in terms of engineering footprint, Seattle’s first on the list,” he said. “So much so that Seattle is Twitter’s first organically grown engineering office. We have offices in New York and Boston, but they were basically founded through acquisitions.”

The executives wouldn’t say how much Twitter plans to grow in Seattle but Fry expects it will soon be the company’s largest satellite engineering office. It has room for about 100 employees and options to expand on an additional floor in the high-rise, which is across the street from Westlake Park and overlooking the Pike Place Market and Elliott Bay.

“If it matches what happened in my past lives this will become the largest second office to San Francisco in terms of an engineering presence,” Fry said.

Until today Twitter has said little about its Seattle plans beyond confirming the building lease in August. Now it’s giving tours to reporters to raise its profile as it gears up to recruit more engineers from area tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon.com.

Behind a glass wall etched with a Space Needle logo, the office has mostly open spaces where engineers work on shared tables. There are several conference rooms and kitchens and a meeting room where the company plans to host periodic talks for the tech community.

Aside from a few local touches such as logs decorating lobby walls, the offices are intended to mirror the look of the mother ship in San Francisco.

“We were making jokes that this could pass for a different floor of the headquarters — it looks like home,” said Krikorian, who runs company’s infrastructure team.

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photo 4 (11)

Lisa Phillips, Twitter's first Seattle hire, in the east kitchen of its new office

Lisa Phillips, Twitter’s first Seattle hire, in the east kitchen of its new office

Comments | Topics: Amazon.com, Microsoft, salesforce.com


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