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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

February 18, 2015 at 11:54 AM

Best Buy to open engineering center in South Lake Union

Best Buy today said it would open a technology development center in South Lake Union, taking the top floor of the Seattle Times Building. Set to begin operations in late spring, the office will employ more than 50 engineers, product managers, web architects and developers in the next year and is expected to expand to more than 100 e-commerce professionals over time.

I met this morning with Mary Lou Kelley, president of Best Buy e-commerce, Bala Subramanian, chief technology officer, and Jeff Shelman, director of communications for the Minneapolis-based retailer. They said the company had looked at several cities before settling on Seattle because of its technology base, talent, cloud engineering and e-commerce strengths. An initial batch of 30 jobs was posted today.

“The work done in this office will lead the transformation of the omnichannel experience for our customers,” Kelley said. “We intend for our colleagues in this office to drive breakthrough innovation at incredible scale – for the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer.”

The state kicked in $200,000 in incentives from Gov. Jay Inslee’s strategic reserve fund, along with  expedited permitting. In a prepared statement, Inslee said,

Best Buy is an exciting addition to Washington state’s powerful community of e-commerce and mobile technology innovators here in the Cloud Capital of the World. We’re proud to have this dynamic, leading-edge company bringing great jobs and drawing on the talents of our outstanding tech workforce, which numbers more than 176,000, including some of the best cloud-application developers anywhere.

When up and running, the 32,000-square-foot Seattle center will be the second e-commerce engineering site, along with one in Minneapolis.

Best Buy already has one of the most trafficked e-commerce sites, accounting for $1.49 billion in online sales this past holiday season. The company is in the third year of a successful turnaround under CEO Hubert Joly. A key element to future growth is its e-commerce omnichannel, which aims to reach customers in stores, online or via their mobile phones. This will be a key focus of the engineers and developers here.

“We’re uniquely positioned with 1,400 stores and we want to use e-commerce to drive true innovation,” Kelley said. “Customers still want to see, feel and touch products, but they also want to digital.”

The Seattle Times Building at 1000 Denny is owned by H5 Capital of California.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

The Fed is mulling

When to raise interest rates

But where’s inflation?


Comments | More in | Topics: Best Buy, Cloud computing, South Lake Union


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