Amazon is looking for a 2nd headquarter city, a ‘full equal to Seattle’

Amazon has made a name for itself as a giant in e-commerce, logistics and cloud services both for businesses and consumers. Now it’s embarking on a big move to expand its corporate presence, too. Today the company announced that it is opening a search for a city in North America to make its second headquarters, envisioned as a “full equal” to Amazon’s existing home in Seattle, Washington.

At full-capacity, the site would be expected to be of similar, or even bigger, size to the Seattle operation, which today is a major cornerstone of Seattle’s business life, employing 40,000 people, covering 8.1 million square feet with 33 buildings including 24 restaurants. HQ2, as Amazon is calling the new headquarters, is expected to employ 50,000 and will get $5 billion in investment, the company said.

“We expect HQ2 [the name Amazon is using] to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” said Jeff BezosAmazon founder and CEO, in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

We’re asking what Amazon’s timeline is for the HQ2.

The announcement is timed in an interesting way: Apple has just about completed its new headquarters in Cupertino, and next week it’s going to be holding its first event in its new Steve Jobs Theater, where it is expected to unveil its latest iPhone. Architecture has long been used as a symbol of might and power, so announcing HQ2 plans just ahead of Apple’s event feels like Amazon’s way of noting that iPhone/Mac giant is not the only one to watch.

Amazon is interestingly making a lot of how it plans to let people choose which HQ they would like to work out of, if not both. And it’s setting out some of the parameters that it wants to follow: a city must have a population of more than 1 million people, be a “stable and business-friendly environment”, be “urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent,” and “communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.”

It also notes that optional details include the ability to build an urban or downtown campus that would be similar to Amazon’s footprint in Seattle, and might be already developer-prepped ahead of Amazon getting involved.

Amazon said as a first step, it is now opening the Request for Proposal (“RFP”) stage, inviting local and state governments to get in touch. The benefits to the city that wins the bid are big. Amazon estimates that between 2010 through 2016, its expansions in Seattle have brought $38 billion to the city’s economy, or for each $1 that Amazon invested, the city of Seattle generated $1.40.

Amazon today is one of the very biggest employers in the tech world, with 380,000 staff. Tech is seen by many as the industry of the U.S. of today, but while some tech companies have notably less direct employees than their more industrial predecessors, Amazon is partly an exception because of its massive logistics operations. Indeed, the company makes a point of announcing every new warehouse that it opens across the U.S. and beyond, creating new jobs and generating more income for the regions where these are built.

The company has also been expanding a lot outside of the U.S.

Earlier this summer, Amazon unveiled a new HQ in London in the heart of the financial district, a counterpoint to much of the doom and gloom many have felt over the UK leaving Europe.

More details of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters: