The story behind Amazon’s San Diego office

Sep 07, 2018 - Sarah Lubeck

Amazon, one of the biggest tech companies in the world, announced that it would be expanding its San Diego presence to 500 employees. But Amazon's San Diego office almost never happened. We owe it all to one guy's love for our region and a six-page memo.

The man behind Amazon San Diego


Meet Nate Wiger, the guy at the center of Amazon's new office in San Diego. A UC San Diego grad, Wiger has worked for some of San Diego's biggest tech companies. Six years ago, Wiger got a job with Amazon and began the commute to its closest office in Irvine.

Amazon has always been a company that's looking for what's next, and Wiger had a feeling San Diego could be it. With the company's focus on technical talent, he knew that UC San Diego would be a major asset to the company, given that it produces more STEM graduates than most other schools in the country. Plus, as Amazon diversified into everything from gaming to genomics and groceries, San Diego's expertise in many of these areas would foster the company's future growth.

I went to the UCSD and I’ve lived here for the past 25 years. Ever since graduating from college I knew I needed to do everything in my power to stay here,” said Wiger.

And for Wiger, staying meant convincing the company that he loved to work for that they should be here too.

But there was one problem. The Seattle-headquartered company saw San Diego much like the rest of the world did; as a sleepy beach town, where you came to surf and vacation. Wiger knew with a little bit of research, he could change that.

So he put together a six-page proposal, ripe with data about talent, cost of living and lifestyle (if only the SD: Life.Changing. toolkit was around then) and Amazon gave him the green light.

Amazon Goes From Four to 500 Employees in San Diego

It started with four employees in Solana Beach. Fast forward to today, and Amazon now has 200 employees at its San Diego offices in UTC. Ahead of their office opening this week, the company announced it will be hiring an additional 300 employees in San Diego, bringing its future headcount to 500 in San Diego. 

And like most of Alexandria Real Estate's buildings, this 85,000 sq ft space is as impressive as they come. The facility's campus includes an on-site restaurant headed by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey that includes a 3.5-acre organic garden to provide fresh produce, meeting/conference facilities, walking/jogging trails, an on-site fitness center, and a soccer field.

And they're hiring

Amazon is hiring for software development, machine learning, cloud computing, digital entertainment and more.  https://www.amazon.jobs/en/locations/sandiego

Thanks for believing in us, Nate. We’re excited to see Amazon’s growth in the place we love to call home.

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