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June 22, 2016

Uber agrees to expand to Palo Alto for engineering office

East Bay Times

George Avalos

PALO ALTO -- Uber Technologies will open a big engineering office that could potentially employ 700 people, the ride hailing company said Tuesday.

"We are excited to continue investing in our home base by opening a South Bay engineering office in the fall of 2016," said Thuan Pham, Uber's chief technology officer.

San Francisco-based Uber is building a new headquarters in that city's Mission Bay district. The company also is busy renovating a big office and retail building in downtown Oakland that will become a co-headquarters for the Uber, along with San Francisco.

The Palo Alto office that Uber is renting is the most far-reaching push by Uber to attempt to tap directly into the world's most skilled pool of technology engineers and executives: Santa Clara County.

"This new office will allow us to grow our teams and continue to attract world class engineering talent to make transportation as reliable as running water," Pham said.

Through the lease deal, Uber will occupy 140,000 square feet in two buildings at 900 Arastadero Road in Palo Alto.

"Uber and other tech companies are trying to be near the Silicon Valley talent," said Chad Leiker, first vice president with Kidder Mathews, a commercial real estate firm. "They are doing all they can to attract good engineering talent."

The transportation company hopes to open its new Oakland co-headquarters in 2017 once the spaces are renovated. Separately, the company has yet to break ground on the Mission Bay site, but that complex is expected to open in 2019.

"The deals that Uber has done in San Francisco and in Oakland, and now in Palo alto, shows that they want to increase their reach into all these talent pools," said Jon Cannon, a senior managing director with Newmark Cornish & Carey, a commercial realty firm.

The Oakland building, known as Uptown Station, includes 330,000 square feet of offices and 50,000 square feet of retail space. Potentially, 1,600 Uber employees could work in the new Oakland offices.

The future San Francisco Mission Bay building will total 423,000 square feet. Uber will retain all of its San Francisco facilities, even after it completes the Oakland expansion.

In September 2015, Uber had 2,000 employees, not counting its contract drivers.

The company intends to make South Bay prospects aware of what it can offer employees. During the summer, Uber will host what it calls a series of "tech talks" prior to the fall opening.

With the deal in Palo Alto, Uber also is planting its flag in one of the most prestigious corporate hubs in the nation.

"Palo Alto is always very desirable," Cannon said. "Look at the roster of companies that are located there."

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