The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

With new technology center, Microsoft expands its turf on 'Silicon Beach'

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Microsoft opened new offices in Playa Vista Thursday, adding to its presence in the technology zone known as Silicon Beach.

Elected officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congresswoman Maxine Waters were on hand to cut the ribbon on the new Microsoft Technology Center.  The center will be the base for about 130 Microsoft employees and replace offices in downtown Los Angeles.

“If you think through where our offices have resided, it’s always been where growth is,” said Mark Kornegay, the new General Manager of Microsoft, Southern California.  He said the company opened offices in downtown Los Angeles during a period of revitalization there.  “Now, Silicon Beach is where a number of companies have invested, a number of our customers are, so this is the area where there’s a tremendous amount of growth and Microsoft continues to follow that growth.” 

Scott Case , the Director of the new technology center said the company needs to be closer to its customers in the entertainment industry. The list of those customers will look familiar to anyone who follows Hollywood.

“SONY Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Disney, these are all entertainment companies and large organizations, and we want to enable their thousands of employees,”said Case.

The Playa Vista offices are also closer to Microsoft’s own entertainment venture: the Xbox Entertainment Studios,  which opened earlier this year further north on the shores of ‘Silicon Beach’ in Santa Monica.  There, the company is working on interactive TV and other original content for the Xbox console. 

The new offices feature several spaces where business customers can experience Microsoft's software and gadgets and make plans for how to use them.  Meeting rooms are named for Los Angeles County beaches:  Hermosa, Zuma, Venice.  The offices and cubicles are all unassigned and available to employees on a first-come, first-served basis.  

YouTube, Google, Netflix and Facebook are among the well-known tech names that have set up shop within Silicon Beach, along with hundreds of lesser-known start-ups. Amazon is also reportedly working on a deal to move its studios to Santa Monica. 

“Silicon Beach is absolutely the real deal,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the ribbon cutting. “More and more in technology, people are looking at the content of technology, and we know content in Los Angeles.”   

Garcetti said he’s focused on helping video-game maker Riot Games  move down the beach from Santa Monica to Playa Vista.  That would bring at least 1,000 more employees. Garcetti said he wants to “create the infrastructure for technology to succeed in L.A.," so he’s also pushing to get computer coding taught in public school classrooms.   

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