By CARI TUNA
Business software developer Salesforce.com Inc. said it is paying $278 million for 14 acres of undeveloped land to build a new headquarters in San Francisco, the costliest land purchase in the city in years.
The company said it will use the land in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood for a nearly two-million-square-foot campus. That represents more than double the space Salesforce.com now occupies across five buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area, including its headquarters in San Francisco’s financial district.
Salesforce.com, under Chief Executive Marc Benioff, is one of the best-known exponents of a business model known as software as a service. The company, which makes software for managing sales and customer service, has grown steadily since its founding in 1999, with $1.3 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ended in January and about 2,500 employees in San Francisco.
Mr. Benioff said the company looked at locations in Silicon Valley and Oakland, Calif., but decided to stay in San Francisco because of the city’s growing status as a technology hub, among other reasons.
“San Francisco really has become the home of the next-generation Internet companies,” Mr. Benioff said. He added that San Francisco has “a tremendous labor pool” and that having a San Francisco campus allows the company to attract workers from the East Bay and Silicon Valley.
The deal is biggest land purchase by total price “in recent memory,” said Colin Yasukochi, director of research at real-estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s San Francisco office. “There just really aren’t such large pieces of commercial land for sale” in the city.
In terms of acreage, the deal is the largest since the seller, Alexandria Real Estate EquitiesInc., bought a slightly larger parcel of Mission Bay land in 2005, according to San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Mission Bay is a redevelopment zone south of downtown that includes a campus of the University of California at San Francisco, which focuses on education and research in life sciences and healthcare. Mr. Benioff has already shown an affinity for the neighborhood; he and his wife Lynne earlier this year pledged to donate $100 million to help build a new children’s hospital there, as part of a $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center complex currently under construction in the area.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom welcomed the company’s move, calling it a boon to the local economy and to the city’s status as an innovation center. “This is a big deal for our city,” Mr. Newsom said. “I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this announcement.”
Mr. Benioff said he believes the development will be the largest corporate campus ever built in San Francisco. “This will be an extremely large facility that will let us grow unencumbered,” he said, calling the new location “a fantastic spot.”
Salesforce.com already has broken ground on the new headquarters and hopes to start moving into its first building there within two years, Mr. Benioff said.
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