American Express tech hub to add 200 people in Palo Alto


More details have emerged regarding the American Express takeover of the former Zibibbo restaurant space in downtown Palo Alto. The company announced that its new technology hub will employ about 200 people in a Dec. 11 press release.

A company spokeswoman confirmed the move in June. The corporate venture arm of American Express Co., American Express Ventures, moved into a small office location at 102 University Ave. in 2011, and the move into the 15,999-square-foot site will greatly expand American Express's presence in Palo Alto.

The new team will focus on innovations in big data, cloud computing and mobile infrastructure, the company said. American Express Ventures, as previously reported, will also move into the new location and will continue its investments in early-stage start-ups in digital commerce, data and analytics and security and servicing, the company said.

Chief Technology Officer Nik Sathe, who previously served in executive roles at Google and PayPal, will be the senior executive based at the Palo Alto hub, the company said.

"The Silicon Valley is rich in technology talent who will be instrumental in building the platforms that enable the delivery of products and services that continue to enhance our customers' experience and address their ever-evolving needs," Sathe said.

"Engineers at American Express have the opportunity to scale their impact across hundreds of our developers and millions of our loyal customers around the globe. We're excited to be able to tap into the Silicon Valley talent pool to grow this team and set up our business for long-term success."

The buildup to 200 employees will be "over time," the company said.

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8 people like this
Posted by Michael Vilain
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 25, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I haven't worked in downtown in over 2 years, but the daily parking situation never stopped bothering me. I never did find a solution for parking in the neighborhoods for my 2-3 days/week.

Now 200 more employees will be joining the parking fray "over time".

Unless AMEX razes the building and digs a private parking garage, I wonder what the City's Parking committee is thinking now about adding 200 MORE spaces that don't exist to the parking fray.

And what about 'service' people like me who work at the restaurants or shots or Whole Foods or even Apple? What about them? At the time, I asked a couple in my wanderings around town.

"I'll just work at another store."

That might be a solution for some, but what if you work at a local mom&pop place?

Now I understand why University Art Center chose to relocate.

3 people like this
Posted by the tech label
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Can we just face it?

Palo Alto is becoming a service outpost and innovative companies are DYING here. Slapping "tech" to everything is a trend, and a labeling thing.

You have to have a lot of money to operate here, so by definition the stage of companies that are here are geriatric at this point.

Adding "tech" to everything and having an address in Palo Alto is like dying your hair, or getting Botox anymore.

1 person likes this
Posted by JJ
a resident of University South
on Dec 26, 2014 at 12:25 am

Good luck in finding a decent affordable place to actually live. Oh, that's right, it's all about the "spirit" of unbridled capitalism now. Pardon me.

3 people like this
Posted by bad outcomes
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2014 at 7:24 am

The design modifications at the former Zibibbo site are hugely
disappointing, especially on the Waverley St side. So the negative
impacts keep piling up on this change of use, which basically just
continues the trend in place in Palo Alto.

3 people like this
Posted by CP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 26, 2014 at 8:40 am

Amex Tech Hub? More like a vanity shop for developing their app to check ones Amex card balance.

But no doubt Amex can afford the rent.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The inbound commute into Palo Alto is an interesting one. I would imagine that these high tech workers are the later arrivals in the day and tend to stay later than others.

I have no idea of numbers, but one of the highest employers in town is possibly PAUSD. Unlike other places of work, these employees are time sensitive in their commutes. They probably arrive earlier and then leave earlier than many other inbound commuters. For the most part, they get parking provided except for the elementaries which do not have enough offstreet parking for all the staff.

The other aspect is that many teachers, PAPD, PAFD, etc. or even medical workers, do not have a high preference for living where they work. They choose to keep their home/family life private from their working life. These workers will never aspire to live in Palo Alto. Then of course there is always the spouses of those that work here who may prefer to live close to their jobs.

5 people like this
Posted by Pack um' in there!
a resident of Mayfield
on Dec 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

Current Downtown Parking requirement for General Business Office is one space per 250sf. If the space is 16,000sf and there are 200 employees planned that comes out to one employee per 80sf. The occupancy will be over three times that anticipated by the Downtown parking code.

4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 29, 2014 at 11:42 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Accurate parking analysis? Who needs that? We'll just build more garages for the under-parked buildings the city keeps approving.

Just like who needs accurate traffic analyses or common sense. Of course traffic won't back up a bit when you switch from Cal Ave from diagonal parking to parallel parking and take away a lane of traffic because cars can levitate around the the car being parked.

Nope, no backups from Cal Ave onto El Camino, no parking problem in PA.

Want to buy a nice bridge?

6 people like this
Posted by Really
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Remember when retail had to remain retail? Isn't that what Zibibo was? All you need in Palo Alto to change the rules is to be a big developer. The City Council never met a developer it didn't like. Here's hoping that our new council members will change the atmosphere of the CC. Now, if they can make some changes with the city attorney and the city manager, maybe we will get the change we voted for.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jordan
a resident of University South
on Dec 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm

@Michael Vilain, Palo Alto has figured out a way to alleviate the parking shortage - permit parking. They will soon charge $$$ for downtown employees to park, and somehow everything will magically fall into place and be just fine. What you are seeing is the end result of many years of questionable governance and deeply flawed policies.

@Really, simply mandating that ground floor space had to remain retail no longer works. Thanks to growth being stifled, and absurdly low height limits imposed on downtown structures, there is a very acute shortage of both office space and housing. That makes prices go through the roof, to the point that most mom n' pop retailers cannot afford the rent. Others are barely holding on, and might soon join the exodus to Mountain View, Los Altos and elsewhere. If you are looking for a solution from the Residentialists, don't hold your breath. The very limited growth movement has strangled retail business in the downtown area with their growth-limiting nonsense. The new parking permit tax program only makes things worse. Or does the City Council seriously believe that minimum wage earners can afford to pay for expensive employee parking permits? Mom n' pop businesses and their employees are not the enemy, so Palo Alto should stop enacting policies that hurt them and encourage them to leave.

5 people like this
Posted by the tech label
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2014 at 10:46 am


"The very limited growth movement has strangled retail business in the downtown area with their growth-limiting nonsense."

Office hubs have strangled retail in the downtown area. The colonizers are not start ups of 1-3 people, but packs of hundreds like this new "venture", more like mini campuses. Adding more space for them will do nothing for the type of retail residents or anyone would want. Retailers apparently cannot make up the rent from the office crowd so they are keeping their Palo Alto customers by moving. I have driven to University Art about six times this Fall/WInter and it's much easier than when it was here.

There is no such thing as being half pregnant on the issue of scale and livability for a town this size. You either destroy the "old" version or you work with the constraints in a responsible way to preserve what you want about it. The 50 foot height limit is the type of constraint you will find in hundreds of cities around the world that draw a line at where cultural values and heritage are important enough that it's not worth making another office tower or 10 more office hubs.

The question that needs to be answered is what type of "hub", "tech" and "venture" Palo Alto wants to be. Large scale, all we can withstand, service outposts and mega office space center. Or not.

Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Dec 31, 2014 at 11:30 am

"Colonizers"??? Really???

3 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2015 at 9:10 am

Rainer is a registered user.

@Really wrote:
"Remember when retail had to remain retail?"

In their Economics 001 wisdom the City Council eliminated this rule in 2008 in order to prime the economy in Palo Alto. Changing the rules/ordinances making it easier for large companies to replace small restaurants and shops never seems to be a problem in Palo Alto.

Reverting to the old ordinances disallowing conversion from Retail to Office: impossible. Too many unforeseen consequences to consider. Let's wait for the update of the Comprehensive Plan, there are never unintended consequences to think about. The lobby pays well.

The Pat Burt's of this world will always delay it to the next City Council meeting or next year because it has not been discussed enough, while the citizens are sick and tired of the discussion, which they have had among themselves, and remember the vote they have taken in November. But there are still Councillors who are not going to be bullied by the voters.

So we lost Zbibbo, Rudy's Pub, University Arts, .... who counts.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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