Apple to expand San Diego engineering hub, boosting workforce to 5,000 over five years

Rendering of one of Apple’s San Diego office locations. Apple said Monday it is boosting its San Diego workforce to 5,000.
Rendering showing the interior design of one of Apple’s existing San Diego office locations. Apple announced Monday morning that it would boost its San Diego workforce to 5,000 over the next five years.

The iPhone maker increases its hiring plans for the region with additional hardware and software engineering jobs


Apple plans to vastly increase its engineering footprint in San Diego, pledging to grow its local workforce to more than 5,000 employees over the next five years.

The iPhone maker laid out its growth blueprint for the region on Monday, April 26, as part of a commitment to invest $430 billion and add 20,000 new jobs across the U.S. by 2026.

Apple’s move to accelerate U.S. investment includes a new $1 billion, 3,000-worker campus in North Carolina focused on machine learning and artificial intelligence. It also plans to expand an existing corporate center in Culver City to accommodate 3,000 workers.

Boston and Seattle are targeted for growth — as is Austin, which is in the throes of a $1 billion campus expansion. Iowa will be the home of a new data center.

But San Diego has a significant role in Apple’s ambitions. In late 2018, the Cupertino company unveiled plans to open a San Diego engineering hub focused on wireless technologies. A few months later, Apple said it would hire 1,200 workers in the region.

Now the company has boosted that number to 5,000. The San Diego job target represents a 315 percent increase over Apple’s prior projections.

“We are creating jobs in cutting edge fields — from 5G to silicon engineering to artificial intelligence — investing in the next generation of innovative new businesses, and in all our work, building toward a greener and more equitable future,” said Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook in a statement.

Apple previously confirmed leases for about 300,000 square feet of office and lab space in two buildings on Towne Centre Drive in University City. It also reportedly leased an additional 197,000-square-foot building in Rancho Bernardo from Bay Area developer Jay Paul.

Apple would likely need significantly more real estate, however, to house a 5,000-employee workforce based on the standard square-feet-per-employee metrics common in the tech sector.

“We are proud to be part of the San Diego community and contribute to the city’s long-term job creation and economic development as we continue to build our team here,” said Kristina Raspe, vice president of global real estate and facilities at Apple, in a statement.

A company spokesperson declined further comment regarding Apple’s current leases or potential future buildings.

Apple currently employs close to 1,000 workers in San Diego. It said most jobs are focused on hardware and software engineering.

There were 278 openings in San Diego listed on Apple’s website on Sunday, April 25 — with more than 200 of those posted over the past few months. Many involve cellular processors and radio frequency engineering.

Not all jobs, however, are related to mobile hardware and software. Apple is also advertising for a security software engineer, a touch sensor designer, an audio firmware expert and a patent portfolio manager, among other positions.

“Apple is a bedrock of our community, and we couldn’t be happier they have chosen to significantly expand and accelerate their growth here,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria in a statement.

With its amped-up hiring plans in the region, Apple will further compete against San Diego-based Qualcomm to lure local wireless talent.

In 2017, Apple launched a two-year legal battle against Qualcomm over patent fees. The companies settled in 2019 — with Apple agreeing to a six-year patent license and multi-year smartphone processor supply deal that returned Qualcomm’s chips to 5G iPhones.

But Apple is working to design its own cellular silicon to oust Qualcomm as a supplier — an effort that includes setting up shop in Qualcomm’s backyard.

Apple is not the only big tech firm expanding in the region. Google recently said it would double its office space in San Diego. Amazon and Walmart Labs also have put down roots locally over the past few years to gain access to science-savvy graduates from the region’s universities.

But Apple has made the largest push to date. “Apple bringing thousands of high-skilled jobs to San Diego County is a tremendous addition to our innovative economy,” said Nathan Fletcher, chair of the County Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “I fully support this Apple initiative and stand ready to assist their San Diego growth.”

— Mike Freeman is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


7:59 a.m. April 27, 2021: This story was updated at 7:30 am to include how many workers Apple currently employs in the region.