to give Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. (AAPL) points when it comes to
style. Not only does the company make some of slickest
packaged electronic devices in the industry, it also has diverse, but
I. A New Home For Apple
CEO Steven P. Jobs, currently recuperating
on medical leave, took some time to present a new plan to the Cupertino
city council, which they posted video of on YouTube.
Currently, Apple has between 2,600 and 2,800 employees working at its Cupertino
headquarters (Mr. Jobs seemed a bit hazy as to the precise current number --
Apple is known for a high
burnout rate). But most of Apple's employees work at other office
buildings in the area.
"We're renting buildings... not very good buildings either... at an ever
greater radius from campus," Mr. Jobs describes, "And we're putting
people at those."
The CEO says that with 12,000 employees Apple was reaching a breaking point --
revamp its Cupertino work situation, or relocate to a town like Mountain View,
Hoping to stick in Cupertino, Mr. Jobs instead bought 150 acres of land on the
east side of town, which were long ago home to Apple orchards. The area
was currently home to a major office of rival computer maker Hewlett-Packard
Despite being business rivals, Mr. Jobs is quite fond of Hewlett-Packard, due
to his own history with the company. He states, "When I was 13 I
think -- Hewlett and Packard were my idols -- I called up Bill Hewlett because
he lived in Palo Alto and there were no unlisted numbers in the phonebook --
which gives you a clue to my age. And he picked up the phone and I talked to
him and I asked him if he'd give me some spare parts for something I was
building called a frequency counter."
"And he did, but in addition to that he gave me something way more
important. He gave me a job that summer -- a summer job -- at Hewlett Packard
right here in Santa Clara off 280, in a division that built frequency counters.
And I was in heaven."
Around the same time he was given this job, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard,
walked through those apricot orchards in Cupertino and decided to buy the
property. Over time it became a major headquarters, but recently the
company has been consolidating, so it sold the land to Apple.
Mr. Jobs sounded a bit bitter about being unable to acquire a certain apartment
complex, stating, "We tried to buy the apartments in the corner, but
they're not for sale, so we couldn't buy those, but we bought everything
Apparently even in Cupertino, some can resist Apple's sorcery.
II. "Spaceship" Prepares to Land
Apple's Cupertino offices are located on Infinite Loop Drive -- nicknamed for a
program loop with no termination conditions; a common cause for operating
system crashes back in the "old days".
Ironically Apple's new building with be the physical manifestation of that term
-- nature's perfect infinite loop -- the circle. The company has hired
architects with the reputation for being the "best in the world" to
design the exotic campus which Mr. Jobs says he hopes will be "best office
building in the world", and which city council member Barry Chang remarked
would be "most elegant headquarters in the U.S."
Mr. Jobs describes it, quipping, "It's a little like a spaceship
Located on the north end of the campus, the planned building is a four-story,
3.1 million square foot office building, with a 1 million square foot improvement.
This is a major improvement over HP's building which covered 1.4 million
square feet of footprint, but only had 2.6 million square feet of office space.
Apple hopes to use the building to house 12,000 employees (up to a maximum of
13,000) -- much more than the 9,500 HP housed (Mr. Jobs referred to this as an
increase of "20 percent", but he was apparently having a bad math
Mr. Jobs describes, "It's a circle. So it's curved all the way around. As
you know if you build things, this is not the cheapest way to build things.
There's not a straight piece of glass in the building. It's all curved."
"And we've used our experience in making retail buildings all over the
world now. We know how to make the biggest pieces of glass in the world for architectural
The building forms a closed arc, with a large inner courtyard. It houses
offices and a cafeteria that feed 3,000 employees at once.
Parking is largely underneath the building, but there's a supplementary 1,200-car
garage to the south of campus. Next to that garage will be a generator.
Due to local brownout issues, Apple says it hopes to make that generator
its primary power source. It says it will look to produce power from
"natural gas and other ways that can be cleaner and cheaper."
III. Enriching the Area
When asked how the plans would enrich Cupertino, Mr. Jobs argued that it would
improve the local environment.
Currently the plot of land is mostly asphalt, as Mr. Jobs puts it -- parking
lots. Only 20 percent is landscaped. Apple plans to expand the
percent of landscaped grounds to 80 percent. They plan to increase the
trees on the land from 3,700 to 6,000, including some of the "apricot
orchards" Mr. Jobs fondly remembers.
He says that Apple has hired a senior arborist from Stanford
University to help plan the tree planting and landscaping.
Many employees will be able to bike to campus. And the CEO brags that his
company provides 20 biodiesel-powered buses,
which pick employees up from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.
He says that smoking will be prohibited inside the new building, which appears,
in part, to be a personal stand by Mr. Jobs. He relates that smoking is a
sensitive subject as both of his parents died of lung cancer.
When asked about the heavily polluting nearby Kaiser Concrete Plant, Mr. Jobs
commented that the plant bought the land "fair and square" so there
was nothing he could do about it for now. He commented, though, "If
you kicked Kaiser out, I wouldn't cry."
Several city council members fished for whether Apple might provide the city
free Wi-Fi, as some corporations like Google Inc. (GOOG) do for their hometowns.
Mr. Jobs scoffed at this notion stating, "We pay taxes, the city
should do those things."
If Apple's plan is approved it will break ground next year and employees will
move in by 2015.