Capital One leaving Seattle, impacting up to 160 engineering and product jobs as it closes tech hub

This building is home to Capital One’s Seattle office. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Financial heavyweight Capital One will close its Seattle office, in a move that could see up to 160 people laid off, GeekWire has learned.

A Capital One spokesman confirmed the office closure, saying the company decided to “refocus our resources and no longer pursue the development of certain Investing digital guidance tools” being built in the Seattle office. The spokesman said work on those projects will end immediately, and the company will close the office by the end of the year.

The decision will impact upwards of 160 people, the spokesman said, though the company wants to find roles in other offices for as many people as it can. An engineering manager at the Seattle office who spoke with GeekWire anonymously plans to stay in Seattle and look for another job rather than relocate. The manager expects roughly half to three-quarters of the employees in the Seattle office to do the same.

The manager painted the layoffs in a positive light, saying the Seattle tech scene is teeming with opportunities for the talented people about to hit the job market following the cuts.

“As I said to my team this morning, whatever happens, outside these windows there are so many opportunities,” the manager said. “With the market right now in Seattle for product and engineering in particular, I don’t think any of them have anything to worry about.”

The Seattle office is part of the company’s retail bank division, the manager said, and it is made up primarily of product, design and engineering teams. Employees were told by executives that the company decided to cease work on the digital investing tools they were building due to some of the trends in the business environment, such as volatility in stock markets and rising interest rates.

Capital One’s Seattle office is in the South Lake Union neighborhood, an area at the center of the city’s tech scene where Amazon is based and other giants like Facebook and Google are growing rapidly. Capital One’s Seattle office spans two floors totaling 38,000 square feet at 501 Eastlake Ave.

In addition to the South Lake Union office, Capital One has a pair of Capital One Cafes, a hybrid combination of a coffee shop and a Capital One bank, in the Seattle area. The company said the cafes would continue to operate after the Seattle office closed.

Based in McLean, Va., Capital One has other corporate offices in New York, Richmond, Va., Plano, Texas, and Wilmington, Del. With the closure of the Seattle office, San Francisco will be Capital One’s lone remaining West Coast hub.

The engineering manager said Capital One is different from most banks, in that it thinks like a tech company. The manager doesn’t hold any ill will against the company, noting that it was a business decision and the company made clear to employees that it wanted to hold on to as many of the people as possible.

Capital One entered the Seattle market through its $9 billion acquisition of ING Direct, a subsidiary of global financial institution ING Group, in 2011. ING, which had purchased Bellevue, Wash.-based stock brokerage ShareBuilder four years earlier for $220 million, had an office in Seattle at the time of the acquisition by Capital One.

In 2016, Capital One’s online brokerage arm, announced plans to restructure its Seattle location, saying it would lay off 187 people. The company wanted to re-align the office’s focus to digital and tech initiatives for the investing business.

A few months later, Capital One inked a lease for the Eastlake office and moved the team there, with a goal of boosting tech hiring. The manager said teams in the Seattle office were working on a number of new mobile products related to investing and banking.

Here is the full statement from the Capital One spokesman:

Earlier today, we met with associates and shared a decision to refocus our resources and no longer pursue the development of certain Investing digital guidance tools. Work on these projects will end, effective immediately.

The vast majority of development work on these projects has been based in our Seattle office and, as a result we’ve decided to close the site by year-end. In the coming months, we’ll focus on supporting our Seattle associates throughout this change.

This was a difficult decision and is in no way a reflection on our very talented team in Seattle, or their efforts to help build our business. We are incredibly thankful for their contributions and we will be providing our full support to them throughout this transition.

Impacted associates have been provided at least 90 days’ notice during which we will be working closely with each person to explore roles in other Capital One locations. We currently have hundreds of open roles at all levels and in all job families in other locations across the company, and hope many of these associates will choose to relocate with Capital One.

Those associates not hired into another internal role will receive extensive career transition support including one-on-one career consulting, training and workshops, access to online tools and resources, job search assistance, and severance eligibility.

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