Nov 6, 2018

Breaking down Amazon's decision to split HQ2

Amazon's regional headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Photo:

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Amazon has decided to split the planned HQ2 across two cities, with the New York Times later adding that the locations are likely to be the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Va., and the Long Island City district in Queens, N.Y. Supposedly, a decision could come in the next week.

Our thought bubble: So much for bringing high tech to Middle America, assuming the Times report is correct. The decision to split HQ2 in two raises questions about whether either of the locations will really emerge as a true second headquarters. Putting at least part of HQ2 near D.C. could help the company as it seeks to deflect antitrust action, which President Trump told Axios is under consideration.

What they're saying: The internet had a lot of fun with the reports of two HQ2s. Here are a few of my favorites...

  • Business Insider's Matt Weinberger: "Each sub-HQ2 will be required to pick cities for two additional HQs, which will then be required to pick two more cities each."
  • Axios' Dan Primack: "You get an HQ2. And you get an HQ2. And you get an HQ2..."
  • There was also some serious introspection, including this, from The Information's Nick Wingfield: "This should serve as a moment of reflection for everyone involved in the HQ2 hype (me included). If Amazon ends up splitting its expansion into mini HQs, that is called...opening satellite offices, which scarcely deserves the buckets of ink spilled so far."
  • And the Seattle Times' Mike Rosenberg: "Amazon parlayed HQ2 into incredibly outsized media attention. Search Amazon HQ2 on Google News: 1.8M results. In the end it was for office expansions to increase jobs by 0.2% in the NY metro area & 0.8% in the DC area, two of the richest places on Earth."

The bottom line: We'll have to wait to see the details to learn just how good a deal this is for the "winning" communities.

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Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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