Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Amazon Gold Rush

Unless you have hidden under a rock, you've heard that Amazon wants to build a second headquarters in or near a large North American city. Amazon put out a nice old fashioned RFP.
Please provide an electronic copy and five (5) hard copies of your responses by October 19, 2017 to Please send hard copies marked “confidential” between the dates of October 16th – 19th to ...
Hard copies? Just like the conference submissions of old. Key considerations for Amazon: A good site, local incentives, highly education labor pool and strong university system, near major highways and airports, cultural community fit and quality of life.

I've seen companies put subsidiaries in other cities, or moved their headquarters away from their manufacturing center, like when Boeing moved to Chicago. But building a second headquarters, "a full equal" to their Seattle campus, seems unprecedented for a company this size. Much like a company has only one CEO or colleges have one President, having two HQs questions where decisions get made. Amazon is not a typical company and maybe location means less these days.

Atlanta makes many short lists. We've got a burgeoning tech community, a growing city, sites with a direct train into the world's busiest airport, good weather, low cost of living and, of course, great universities. Check out the Techlanta and ChooseATL.

So am I using Amazon's announcement as an excuse to show off Atlanta? Maybe. But winning the Amazon HQ2 would be transformative to the city, not only in the jobs it would bring, but in immediately branding Atlanta as a new tech hub. Atlanta will continue to grow whether or not Amazon comes here but high profile wins never hurt.

Many other cities make their own claims on Amazon and I have no good way to judge this horse race (where's the prediction market?). Impossible to tell how Amazon weighs their criteria and it may come to which city offers the best incentives. Reminds me of the Simons Institute Competition announced in 2010 (Berkeley won) though with far larger consequences.


  1. Is Atlanta still in Georgia? Or have you managed to solve that problem .. :)

  2. The space itself is great. The bar and restaurant at Seattle venues occupies two levels, with a great balcony looking out over the city. I had a great time people watching, especially since it was close to festive season.

  3. I've heard they're looking in RDU...

  4. world's busiest airport because people go THROUGH Atlanta not TO Atlanta, right?