Holy smokes. When I first glanced at the headline, I saw the company name "G...." and saw they were looking for 350,000 SF, and at first assumed this was another article about Groupon
. But Google
looking to add hundreds of employees downtown, and maybe launch another tower, is totally another matter.
Maybe this has to do with relocating Motorola from Libertyville, if their acquisition goes through. I would be doubtful about them moving a lot of Android software people from the Bay Area to Chicago to work with the Motorola hardware people (though any software business in Chicago would be fantastic). But down the line, you can picture Motorola/Google shops, like Apple Stores or the Microsoft Store in Oakbrook, and Chicago would be a good place to roll out a retail chain from.
Or maybe they have a plan to go head to head with Groupon and either want to be able to poach workers right out of Groupon or think Chicago is a perfect location for basing such a business (though I don't know that is a type of business where having ORD/MDW is a critical advantage). I wonder if the company's overall ad sales people are going to come to be based in Chicago.
Normally, you could get some insight from the fact that they're talking with premier developers, about premier locations, about launching a building, and not just soaking up Class B space or going the Fifield route in a new West Loop econo-box. At least in the past, that would probably suggest it's not engineers etc., but more client-facing positions that will go into the new building. But post-internet, engineers and all kinds of positions in leading internet companies get as good treatment as executives etc. used to, so it's harder to tell. Maybe Google is even shooting for a signature/branding building. You know, to show up in Transformers 4 or something, or maybe to announce "Google" to every visitor riding a river tour boat. They could even add a Times-Square-like ticker showing popular searches of the last 15 minutes, etc. Ok, I'll stop fantasizing for now.
Either way, I'm surprised River Bend / 444 Randolph wasn't in the list of towers mentioned. The article link went into a paywall - if anyone has access, maybe some of these questions are addressed there.