Tech giant Amazon has moved into a new home spanning three floors of Singapore’s Asia Square One office tower, bringing a high tech hipster style to the city’s banker-dominated Marina Bay financial hub.
Occupying over 100,000 square metres (1.08 million square feet) of space in Singapore’s most expensive commercial cluster, the co-working-style office now accommodates 700 of the e-commerce giant’s team members with enough collaborative spaces, recreational areas, seminar rooms and cosy corners to comfort developers working long hours to launch the latest products.
“Our new office at Asia Square demonstrates our ongoing commitment to invest in Singapore, and the long-term potential for the country to be a leader in the global digital economy,” Amazon Singapore Country Manager Henry Low said in a press release on Wednesday. “The way we work has been changed by the pandemic forever so as our teams continue to grow here, the new space will ensure they have the flexibility and ample space to collaborate, co-create and continue to innovate on our customers’ behalf.”
The announcement came one year after news broke that Amazon would be taking over the 22nd to the 24th floors of the 43-storey tower, after Citigroup had trimmed back its nine-level presence in a building also called home by financial giants including Japan’s Mizuho Bank and Europe’s Allianz Insurance.
Tech Companies Flock to Singapore
Amazon’s expansion in Singapore ranks it among the most prominent in a growing list of multinational tech firms using the city’s office towers to manage their regional expansion. E-commerce powers much of this office grab, including Alibaba last year acquiring half of the AXA Tower in a deal which valued the Tanjong Pagar building at S$1.68 billion ($1.2 billion) and China’s Tencent Holdings launching its first Singapore office space a year ago.
Without specifying rental costs and lease terms, Amazon said on Friday the company will be staying in its Asia Square home “for the long-term” as it boosts its presence in Singapore. At the time the Silicon Valley giant signed up for its new Singapore home, grade A space in the Marina Bay area was leasing for an average of $8.40 per square foot per month, which would bring Bezos’ monthly rent bill for the office to around $840,000.
Even with rents having slid over the past year, leasing rates in Marina Bay remain the costliest in the city with net effective rents averaging $8.35 per square foot. That makes Amazon’s new neighbourhood significantly more expensive than other Singapore financial hubs, such as Raffles Place where rents average at $7.07 per square foot, or the Shenton Way / Tanjong Pagar area, which is slightly more affordable at $7.02, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
Demand for office space by tech firms will continue to grow across Asia, according to research published by Colliers International earlier this year, with the consultancy firm predicting that companies in the sector are likely to sign leases for 5.5 million square metres of grade A desk space from 2020 to 2025, which would be equal to more than 20 percent of the region’s total demand of 26.4 million square metres.
The twin tower Asia Square complex was initially developed by a fund managed by Blackrock before tower one was sold to the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for S$3.4 billion (then $2.45 billion) in 2016 and the 46-storey tower two was sold to CapitaLand the following year for S$2.1 billion (then $1.5 billion).
Amazon said its new office in the city-state, dubbed SIN16, is designed to boost learning and collaboration among the 30 teams working from the new location, including squads responsible for Amazon.sg, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Advertising, Prime Video as well as teams looking after regional corporate operations.
Aside from typical office areas, which are named after local streets and landmarks of the city-state, the e-commerce titan said the new workplace will also feature collaboration spaces including 50 breakout areas and five big meeting rooms as well as recreational areas where workers can unwind such as a pantry, mini-cafe, billiards and lounges equipped with wall-mounted interactive game boards.
“Amazon’s office move marks a key milestone in the company’s growth journey in Singapore,” said Ang Chin Tah, senior vice president at the government agency Digital Industry Singapore. “Amazon has been a trusted partner in our tech ecosystem, driving innovation and creating pathways for local businesses to go global. We are excited to continue our partnership with Amazon and for the new opportunities it will bring for Singapore and Singaporeans.”
Amazon said it aims to add more than 200 new jobs in the Singapore office by the end of next year, after hiring 2,000 full-time and part-time workers to date. The tech company chose Singapore for its initial entry into Southeast Asia in 2017 as it sought fresh markets for its e-commerce empire after scaling back its China operations.
Note: this story has been updated to include an image of Henry Low of Amazon. An earlier version included an incorrect picture. Mingtiandi regrets the error.