Amazon.com Inc. is set to celebrate the opening of a new office for its San Diego technology hub Thursday, and it said it plans to create 300 technology jobs in San Diego as part of its expansion there.
The Seattle e-commerce giant expects to hire workers in software development, machine learning, cloud computing, fraud prevention and digital entertainment.
The San Diego center is one of 17 satellite tech hubs that Amazon operates in North America outside Seattle to invent products and services.
The company, which on Tuesday briefly eclipsed $1 trillion in market value, already employs about 200 tech workers in San Diego who develop software for AmazonFresh, PrimeNow, Amazon Web Services, supply chain management and digital security.
The San Diego team played a role in creating the technology backbone for the launch of Whole Foods pickup and delivery. Amazon Game Studios also has a team in San Diego working on a new online multiplayer game.
Last year, Amazon leased 85,000 square feet in an office park in San Diego’s University City neighborhood, expanding its beachhead in the city.
The city has some attractive elements. “UC San Diego’s computer science program is ranked No. 11 in the world,” said Nate Wiger, general manager of Amazon’s San Diego tech hub. “There’s a lower cost of living here than many cities in California.”
While San Diego is known for biotechnology, wireless semiconductors and defense technology firms, it has an under-the-radar software talent pool, said Mark Cafferty, head of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.
“I think we are graduating more software people from our universities, Cafferty said. “Sometimes we lose these folks, who go elsewhere because the region does not have 10 or 15 big software companies that you would recognize. But every time we can land somebody with pretty good-sized operations, it just adds to the confidence of people wanting to stay in San Diego.”
Amazon said that since 2011, it has created more than 39,000 jobs in California and has invested $19 billion in the state, including infrastructure and wages to employees.
Separately on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a Senate bill — the “Stop BEZOS Act” — that would require large employers such as Amazon and Walmart to pay the government for food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their workers.
The bill’s name is a dig at Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and stands for “Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act.” It would establish a 100% tax on government benefits received by workers at companies with at least 500 employees, the former presidential candidate said Wednesday.
Amazon has fired back against Sanders and his claims that thousands of Amazon employees rely on federal benefits to make ends meet. Those figures are “inaccurate and misleading,” the company said last week, because they include temporary workers as well as those who choose to work part time.
Freeman writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Washington Post staff writer Abha Bhattarai contributed to this report.