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Google’s $7 Billion Bet on a Post-COVID U.S. Office Market

In a recent blog post, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced his company’s plans to invest $7 billion in offices and data centers across 19 U.S. states. With a global workforce of over 135,000 employees, the company has also signaled an upcoming hiring spree to fill over 10,000 full-time jobs in 2021.

Shifts in online ad spending increased the company’s earnings in 2020, and Google is now looking to invest that money into expanding its presence outside Silicon Valley. Additionally, an internal survey revealed that most Google employees would prefer a flexible arrangement – whereby they could come into the office a few days a week – providing another justification for the company to hold on to its existing offices.

Pichai highlighted plans for new data centers and offices in Minnesota, Texas, and North Carolina. Google has recently established its first office in Rochester, Minn., and will build a cloud engineering hub in Durham, N.C., as well as a new office space in Houston. The tech giant also plans to expand its Loudon County data center in Virginia and invest in its Austin, Atlanta campuses.

Before Seattle became the playground of companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Salesforce, Google had been a stable presence in the area since 2004. Ongoing construction work at Kirkland Urban campus – just east of Seattle – and Block 38 at 520 Westlake – one of five buildings at Google’s future South Lake Union campus, near Amazon’s world headquarters – highlights the company’s commitment to investing in its longtime bases as well.

Although still in third place – behind both Amazon and Microsoft – Google has made progress in the cloud provider market, doubling its number of data centers nationwide since 2018. Despite that growth, the tech giant’s 2021 investment plans remain below pre-pandemic levels; in 2018 and 2019, Google directed on average $11 billion per year towards such projects.

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