As one of the nation’s largest cities, Chicago has the sixth-largest pool of tech workers, with about 140,000, just behind Seattle. But it doesn’t have the cachet of Seattle, Boston or Austin, Texas—which have fewer tech workers overall but are popular choices among big West Coast tech companies for engineering offices.As home to nearly three dozen Fortune 500 companies, Chicago has been more of a sales hub for tech firms, such as Facebook, Salesforce and Amazon. Even Google’s Chicago operation, which anchors the Fulton Market area that’s become a hotbed for tech, started out as primarily a sales office.
Salesforce, which plans to move into a new office tower on the Chicago River and add 1,000 jobs by 2023, has more than 1,500 employees in Chicago, where it has acquired several tech companies. It has some tech staff here, but most of the headcount is non-tech. Facebook, which signed a lease for more than 250,000 square feet of space downtown a year ago, has a few hundred workers here, mostly in sales and recruiting, but it has not opened an engineering office.
Other tech companies, however, are adding tech staffers to their Chicago offices. Google declines to disclose specific numbers, but people familiar with its local operation estimate the tech staff totals about 300, or nearly one-fourth of the workforce. Four years ago, it had about 100 engineers out of a Chicago workforce of 600. Glassdoor, an online platform for crowdsourced information on employers and job postings, opened a Chicago office three years agofocused on sales. The company, based in a San Francisco suburb, recently announced it would add software engineering jobs in Chicago.
Last year, ServiceNow, a software company based in Santa Clara, Calif., opened an engineering office in Chicago with plans to hire 150 by the end of 2020.