Google opens office in Microsoft’s backyard

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SEATTLE (Reuters) – Google has opened an office just down the road from rival Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle’s suburbs as it seeks to lure local engineering talent, the No. 1 search engine company has said.

Google, which competes with the world’s largest software maker in Internet search as well as for employees, has leased space in Kirkland, Washington, less than five miles (8 km) from Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters.

“The only reason to start a remote engineering office is to hire really talented people,” said Alan Eustace, vice president of engineering at Google.

Google is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and also has engineering offices in New York; Santa Monica, California; Zurich; Bangalore, India; and Tokyo.

Microsoft decided last year to build its own search engine to compete with Google as it seeks more search-based advertising revenue and online traffic for its MSN Internet division. Last week, it unveiled a preliminary version of its new search engine.

Eustace said that “the Seattle area has an amazing amount of technical talent” but in some cases Google has had difficulty hiring people because they did not want to leave the Pacific Northwest for California’s Silicon Valley.

So far, about 10 Google employees are working in Kirkland in a space that could hold at least 200 more people. Some engineers with ties to Seattle would be moving up from Mountain View as well, the company said.

Eustace said the new office, which takes up an entire floor of a building in downtown Kirkland, will have perks similar to those in other Google offices.

Google famously has on-site services at its headquarters such as massages, meals, and an on-site doctor, but Eustace said that Kirkland would not have its own chef.

Google is inviting local friends, family members, civic leaders and press to an invitation-only party on Thursday night, but declined to say whether Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was invited.

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