Why being tough by the Amazon is good

What a coincidence! Amazon chose to wait until the end of the year before delivering her huge gift to some lucky city: the location of her second home (and there is also a third building in this box smile?

The fourth quarter is when e-commerce and the cloud giant historically occupy most of its sales. And much of the Amazon hunt for the so-called HQ2 has always seemed to create favorable publicity for Godzilla's four-dollar period.

The whole process, said John Landry, a start-up investor from Wayland, was "a trick to draw incredible amounts of free ad that loves the Amazon." They received mayors, pols and business leaders, their cities and in turn the Amazon heard exactly what cities would give to the mighty, glorious giant to move there. "

Announcements are now emerging that Amazon will soon announce that it has chosen Crystal City, an office and residential development outside of Washington for its secondary headquarters, along with a second sub-headquarters on the outskirts of New York. Kudos, Virginia and New York.

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On the day Amazon announced her research in September 2017, I predicted that Boston would not get it. So in the meantime, I proceeded to the next question, asking people in technology and commercial real estate this: Assuming that Amazon does not give the final rose to Boston, why not?

Roy Hirshland, a commercial real estate consultant for technology companies, said that Amazon's reason for not coming to Boston is that "for a complete, integrated headquarters you do not need just the technology talent – which we have – but other talents. elements of the suburban city of New York and DC, you probably got a deeper group of people who do things apart from coding and technology. "

The choice of DC and New York is a discouragement of all of these Silicon Valley stories that are too costly and that there are 20 different cities where you could successfully exploit a technology company, "said Greg Bialecki, a director of the company Redgate real estate, and a former housing and economic development secretary in Massachusetts. The cost of living in DC or New York is not much cheaper than Silicon Valley, he said.

This does not mean that your shot should not be found in Nashville, "added Bjelitzi," but maybe if you need 10,000 people, it's still a limited set of places you can go. "

Diane Hessan chose Washington, DC, or North Virginia in a bet with colleagues graduating from Harvard Business School. As the owner of The Washington Post said, Amazon's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, "must be in DC anyway … and even more, I believe that Beso and his leadership must be in the Board. more often due to the increasing possibility of government regulation for the Amazon. "Hean is chairman of C Space's digital market research company, Boston based.

But Alec Karys, starter consultant and investor, who soon worked for Amazon in 2004, said Virginia and New York are moving "makes no sense" about him. He was also "troubled by the idea of ​​choosing a position and raising it to 50,000 people."

But choosing two HQ2 cities, Karys said, suggests that the future Amazon "will be a much more distributed organization," which will include adding jobs to Boston.

And the loss of HQ2 is not a terrible thing for Boston – for many reasons.

"I was afraid that if we landed in the Amazon, they would take all of the oxygen out of the room," said David Townsend of Newmark Knight Frank. The cost of people and office space will increase. "If HQ2 was here, the war for talent goes red and I'm not sure it's a great thing for Boston."

Tim Rowe, founder and CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center, said his impetus was to congratulate the city that he won, and then "to say that half of me are very pleased to remain an area of ​​the country that is primarily owned reason to the small start type and idealism. "

The Amazon's choice of Cyrstal City and Long Island City is a discouragement of all of these stories about Silicon Valley becoming very expensive and that there are 20 different cities where you could successfully exploit a technology company.

The venture capitalist Russ Wilcox observed that during the HQ2 survey, Amazon said it would rent an additional 400,000 square feet in the Seaport area. chose Boston for a new joint venture to provide more affordable healthcare to workers. and paid about $ 1 billion to buy Pillpack, an online pharmacy based in Somerville.

All of these developments – as well as the loss of HQ2 – make Boston a "double winner", according to Wilcox. We take "a big part of the budget for the innovation and development of the Amazon and we do not have to absorb thousands of jobs with lower wages that would have blocked our infrastructure and housing." While this kind of job would be fantastic. in the future, "we must add housing and transport first," added Wilcox, who previously had Bilerica E Ink, which provides displays for the Amazon Kindle readers.

After the hullabaloo weakened over HQ2, Wilcox said that "Boston faces the same strategic challenge we have done before: either becoming one of the three largest cities in the world for innovation or fading the lack of importance."

I would love to see some of these innovative actions being implemented to help neighborhood businesses and smaller retailers – those most threatened by the untenable course of the Amazon – embrace new technology and prosper.

One last thing: Amazon is one of the most insular, secret and insurmountable companies I've ever met. It's just not in his DNA to deal with the local business ecosystem, whether in Seattle or Boston – unless there's something obvious about it for Amazon, such as hiring employees or convincing software developers to use technologies like Alexa. Arlington and New York are going to find this soon, but here in Boston, some know it for a while.

Seven years ago, Amazon began to build its engineering office at Kendall Square. Now he employs several hundred people at the edge of MIT campus. But while huge companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Shell and Johnson & Johnson are part of the Kendall Square Association – a nonprofit company that focuses on issues such as transportation and diversity – Amazon has done nothing effort to participate.

Scott Kirsner can reach [email protected] Follow it on Twitter @ScottKirsner and at betaboston.com.