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Apple Ready To Take a Bite Out of SoMa

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The company went 40 years without significant presence in San Francisco

It’s strange to think of Apple as a newcomer to San Francisco. But if, as Reuters reports, the company is set to move into a 76,000-square-foot space leased at 235 Second Street this summer, it will be their first real office foray into the city, and a small but significant departure from the culture created by late founder Steve Jobs.

Rumors began swirling about the lease deal last summer. The building is occupied by CBS Interactive, who offered a two-floor sublease through 2022. It’s not much space in the grand scheme of things, enough for about 500 people if you go by a 150 square feet per worker standard.

But Apple has always been very particular about how and where it does business. Last year’s sort-of biopic movie Steve Jobs emphasized the company co-founder’s rigid insistence on using "closed systems," an approach that didn’t apply only to computers. The now iconic Apple Store chain, for example, was founded because Jobs wanted direct control over how products were presented to retail buyers.

By a similar turn, the company long insisted on concentrating as many employees as possible in and around their Cupertino campus. As Silicon Valley gave the rest of us more ways to live and work remotely, the computer giant stuck by the increasingly old-fashioned idea that coming to work meant driving to a particular patch of land. The campus was the company; if you wanted to work for Apple, you got in your car and drove to Apple.

But times have changed. SoMa is now the place where San Francisco and Silicon Valley merge in Borg-like symbiosis. Almost every major Valley company has an outpost there, both because it’s practical and because it’s simply what’s done these days.

Fourteen percent of Apple’s Bay Area workforce lives in San Francisco, as Reuters reckons it, a demographic that’s only going to grow. The company as a whole is still growing too: Today, Apple claims 66,000 employees around the world, 4.7 times as many as it had just a decade ago. You’ve got to put those people somewhere.

At the end of the day, it’s still only 500 employees. But it’s always been the Apple credo that the little things mean a lot.