Amazon has spent the past two decades conquering the world, but today it beat a stunning retreat from the New York City leg of its HQ2 expansion.
Why it matters: The optics are terrible for Amazon. It dangled 50,000 jobs as a life-preserver for America’s mid-sized cities, then picked the D.C. area and NYC for the bulk of the winnings, only to balk at the prospect of not getting its full incentives package.
- The NYC deal was built — with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio — to avoid almost all scrutiny from other elected officials, Axios' David McCabe notes.
- But it turns out one of the world's most valuable companies would rather fold than continue confronting the aggressive backlash from the city's community activists and municipal officials.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon's corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world."
Behind the scenes: A source familiar with Amazon’s deliberations told McCabe that serious conversations about pulling back on its New York plans started in the last two weeks, sometime after a second contentious City Council hearing with its executives.
- The source said that another key moment in the company’s decision came when New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a critic of the deal, was nominated to a board in early February that would have had to have approved the project.
- News that its commitment to New York was wavering broke in the press last week.
- Amazon’s leadership made the final call to back off the project on Wednesday night, the source said.
- Jay Carney, a former White House press secretary and Amazon’s top policy executive, called Cuomo and de Blasio this morning to deliver the news. The company went public hours later.
Coming later today: Axios' Erica Pandey is on the ground with NYC residents on how the decision has induced whiplash for locals.