Amazon apparently knew for months that it would split up its second headquarters

Amazon’s new HQ2 locations. Samantha Lee/Business Insider

  • Amazon has settled on a new home for its second headquarters, which it calls HQ2. It will be split between two locations: Long Island City in Queens, New York, and an area of Arlington, Virginia, dubbed National Landing.
  • The company originally said it would select one city for its new headquarters.
  • According to Amazon senior vice president Jay Carney, who spoke with The New York Times, the decision to split HQ2 was made months ago.

For over a year, Amazon has kept the search for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, very secret, leaving the public and even the cities who had made proposals to live off rumours alone.

On November 5, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was considering splitting its headquarters in two. That was the first time a solution of this kind had been reported, but according to an Amazon executive, it had been in the works for months.

Jay Carney, a senior vice president at Amazon, told The New York Times that the decision to split HQ2 was made during a meeting in August. The team running the search decided that it would be easier to find the 50,000 employees that they intended to hire if they split the office between two locations.

An Amazon spokesperson later told The Times that that decision had been made in September. The company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that some city officials may have had their suspicions that Amazon could split HQ2, even before it was officially announced.

“During a second visit in Los Angeles, a city official asked whether Amazon should break up HQ2 among several cities because there wasn’t enough tech talent in one location. Ms. Sullivan and her staff appeared to give each other knowing glances,” The Journal wrote.

Holly Sullivan is the Amazon exec who led the search for HQ2.

The Journal first reported that the decision to have two HQ2 locations was related to the company’s ability to recruit enough tech talent.

Amazon reiterated this in its blog post announcing the selections on Tuesday.

“We can recruit more top talent by being in two locations,” the company said. “These are fantastic cities that attract a lot of great talent.”

It would also allow Amazon to ease issues related to housing and transit.

“25,000 as a floor is easier for the communities to absorb,” Carney told The Times.

These problems have been highlighted at Amazon’s main headquarters in Seattle, where locals complain of skyrocketing rents, prolonged construction, gentrification, and gridlock traffic.

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