By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba, has settled into offices in downtown Seattle near one of its biggest competitors, Amazon. The news of its move to the northwest comes after raising a record-breaking $21.8 million in its initial public offering on Wall Street in late September. The company, founded by entrepreneur Jack Ma, had sent feelers throughout the Seattle tech community this past summer about its inevitable return to the city.
Alibaba is valued at $243 billion on the New York Stock Exchange which would be higher than eBay and Amazon combined. It had been valued at $130 billion prior to going public. The new Alibaba office is located in the center of downtown Seattle in the Decatur office building on Sixth Avenue. Based on multiple reports, it will be an engineering hub for the company. The significance of its move to the area is that it is about two blocks south of Amazon’s future high-rise campus.
According to a report from Geekwire, the company is still building out the space and it is still in the process of recruiting more employees. It is subleasing 8,000 square feet on a short-term lease although the Puget Sound Business Journal indicates that the company is looking for a longer-term office with 60,000 square feet of space. There are few spaces available with those requirements so time will tell how much Alibaba plans to expand. Its current occupancy in the Decatur office building may be only a year and its decision to expand further in Seattle will likely depend on its success. Based on estimations, an 8,000 square-foot office space would have room to house 40 employees. A 60,000 square foot office space could have up to 300 employees.
So far, Alibaba has kept quiet about its opening although makeshift signs, likely for mail and deliveries, reveal its location. Aside from that, officials for the company have not made an announcement about opening the Seattle office.
The office will be the company’s second in the United States with the other being in the Silicon Valley.
While the company has solicited employment from engineers in previous networking events prior to its arrival, the company has posted more “help wanted” inquiries looking for more employees. Ma, Alibaba’s founder and CEO, told reporters that the company planned to “expand aggressively” in the U.S. after going public.
With the opening of the new office, the speculation will begin as to how, when, and if the biggest e-commerce company in China will begin to entice Amazon employees to change addresses to the new company in town. Recently, Amazon posted an earnings loss in its latest quarterly report. Conversely, Alibaba sports momentum from its recent influx of cash from its opening on the New York stock exchange. Its stock has risen 45 percent since its start September 19th. It will announce its first earnings as a publicly traded company the first week of November. (end)
The company was founded in 1999 by Ma with its main offices in Hangzhou, China.
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.