Hello, neighbor! How Google Cloud is making its presence known in Amazon’s backyard

The new Google Cloud campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Google is planting its flag in Amazon territory.

Google signage has been installed across the multiple buildings going up in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and at the street level, mapping out the new campus for the thousands of employees who will begin moving in soon. The company has previously said that the first Googlers will take their seats this summer, more than three years after the massive campus was first announced.

The substantial signage clearly announces Google’s presence in the neighborhood, and it provides a contrast to neighbors like Amazon and Facebook. Amazon’s style and distinctive building names may stand out to close observers, but the average person walking by might not pick up the aesthetic. Facebook saves the flourish for inside the walls of its buildings, and the structures mostly blend in with the growing forest of glassy office structures going up in the neighborhood.

(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Google told GeekWire in March that it was targeting a date of mid- to late-summer to start moving people into the campus, which has been under construction for more than two years. A construction crane fell at the project site in April, killing four people.

Google has yet to provide an update to the timeline to open the campus since the construction incident, and the company declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire this week.

The campus, first announced in 2016, consists of two blocks with 607,000 square feet of office space and 149 apartments. Google also leased a third nearby block a few months ago.

(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Google first arrived in the Seattle area 15 years ago and now has roughly 3,400 employees in the region. With the recent addition of a third block, the new campus could hold anywhere from 4,600 to 6,200 employees using industry standard ratios of about 150 to 200 square feet per person. That would be a significant boost to Google’s capacity to hire more engineers in Seattle’s talent-rich ecosystem, especially in cloud computing.

The campus sits on the busy Mercer Street corridor just across the street from Amazon’s massive Seattle campus, and Google will surely look to peel off engineers and other talent from its rival to close the gap against cloud leader Amazon Web Services. Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told GeekWire April that he planned to dramatically expand the pool of enterprise salespeople inside Google Cloud, and what better place to find those workers than in the backyards of AWS and Microsoft. It’s also a great place to scout talent among the growing number of cloud-focused startups that are springing up in and around Seattle, especially ones working with containers and Kubernetes, two cloud technologies at the heart of Google’s cloud pitch.

(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Under previous cloud CEO Diane Greene, Google vowed to turn its cloud-computing division into an even bigger source of revenue than its bread-and-butter advertising division by 2020. Despite a hiring spree that landed both top-tier engineers and enterprise sales people, Google remains a distant third in the cloud computing market behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, and it has yet to fully disclose how much revenue it is making from cloud computing.

Google’s Seattle presence also includes several buildings in the Fremont neighborhood, along with a big campus in the suburb of Kirkland, Wash. that the company expanded three years ago. Google also recently leased some office space in Bellevue — where Amazon is also growing rapidly — and is rumored to be taking a new office campus in Kirkland that would dramatically increase its footprint there.

Seattle is Google’s third largest market, behind only its Mountain View, Calif. HQ and its rapidly expanding operation in New York City.

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