Steve Jobs Pitches Massive Apple Spaceship Cupertino Campus (Video)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs spent some of Tuesday evening pitching the Cupertino city council on an enormous new campus for his company. In a 20 minute presentation, Mr. Jobs showed the members of the council plans for a massive circular building nestled in the woods of a 150-acre property just down the road from Infinite Loop, a building that looks like science fiction spaceship that will hold between 12,000 and 13,000 employees.

Apple purchased the land in two transactions. In 2006, the company bought 50 acres off Wolfe Road, and in 2010, the company bought 98 adjacent acres from HP, giving Apple not quite 150 acres. Mr. Jobs told the Cupertino city council that his company wanted to take that space, increase the number of trees on the site by 62% from 3,700 to 6,000 (or “almost double,” as Mr. Jobs presented the math), and plunk down one of the most amazing office buildings on the planet where HP used to do its thing.

You can watch the presentation in full, as posted to YouTube by the city council (via TechCrunch), but for those who can’t, we’ve put together highlights, slides, and quick facts for your convenience, which you will find below the video.

Steve Jobs presents Apple’s plans for an office building in Cupertino

The first thing we’ll note is that Mr. Jobs was putting on a show every bit as masterfully as he would a keynote event. His tone was much more folksy than a keynote (at one point he called himself a “simpleton”), but he was playing the room every bit as much as he plays the developers at WWDC or a Macworld crowd back when Apple supported Macworld Conference & Expo.

The second thing we’ll note is that the entire city council appeared to be made up of massive Apple fanboys and fangirls. They did their best to ask a couple of softball questions, but Mr. Jobs was more than their match in every conceivable fashion.

For instance, when one councilwoman asked Mr. Jobs if Apple would provide the city of Cupertino with a free WiFi network, like Google did for the city of Mountain View. Mr. Jobs flat out said no, noting that his company is the largest tax payer in Cupertino.

“I’m a simpleton,” he said, putting on his most folksy moment. “I’ve always had the view that we pay taxes and the city should do those things. That’s why we pay taxes. Now, if we can get out of paying taxes, I’ll be glad to put up a WiFi network.”

It was exactly the right thing to say, and the council members and audience laughed and smiled. More importantly, the point was almost immediately conceded, and it was clear that not only would Apple not be building said network, but that it was not necessary for Apple to do so to get fast track approval for its plans.

Mr. Jobs also made it plain that his company needs this new space. He said that the Infinite Loop campus can hold some 2,600 people, and that Apple has had to lease more and more space outside the main campus as local headcount has exploded to more than 9,500 employees (he actually says 12,000 early in the presentation, but a slide makes it clear that current local headcount is actually 9,500).

In the near future, or “Tomorrow” as all the slides say, Apple will need as many as 13,000 employees. Mr. Jobs said that his company would like to keep Apple in Cupertino where it was founded, but that if they can’t get this new space, it will have to move to Mountain View or some other place where it can build a big enough space for all these people, taking all those taxes and high income earners with it.

It was not stated as a threat, but the threat was still crystal clear. Mr. Jobs is one of the toughest negotiators in business today and he has regularly hammered together deals with all manner of companies used to getting their way (To wit: the record labels and movie studios), and those skills are on display throughout his presentation.

Another thing that was clear is that this building, as envisioned, will be something to behold. Mr. Jobs talked about how Apple has hired some of the best architects and engineers on the planet to work up these plans, and he touted such things as the fact that there are no straight pieces of glass because Apple has learned how to do things like make a bunch of curved glass from all its retail experience.

“I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world,” he said, with the passion evident in both his demeanor and voice. “And I really do think architecture students will come here to see this. I think it could be that good.”

Quick Facts:

  • The campus will use underground parking for most of its employee parking, some of which will be under the spaceship itself. There will also be a separate parking structure off to the side.
  • The entire building will be four stories tall. “There’s nothing high here,” Mr. Jobs said. “We want the whole place human scale. It’s about the same as we have in Cupertino right now.”
  • There are cafés in the facility. Mr. Jobs said that there were multiple cafés, but when he showed one of them in a concept drawing he said that it alone would sit up to 3,000 people at one time, “because that’s what you need when you have 12,000 people on campus.”
  • Apple currently has 20 biodiesel powered busses that it runs all over the Bay Area for employee shuttles.
  • The campus will have its own power generator on site and use the grid as its backup. He said that Apple can generate electricity that is both cleaner and cheaper than what it can buy. Take that, PG&E.
  • Apple wants to submit its plans for official approval “rather quickly.” From there, “We want to break ground next year, and we want to move in in 2015.”
  • Apple tried to buy the 15-acre apartment complex at the southwest corner of its land, but was unable to do so.
  • Mr. Jobs made it plain that he is proud of Cupertino and that he really wants Apple to stay in the city where he grew up.
  • The city council wants an Apple Store retail location in Cupertino, but Mr. Jobs said there wasn’t enough traffic to support one. “If we thought it would be successful, we’d love to,” he said.

Some of the slides culled from the presentation:

Map of the space

Infinite Loop is on the left, while the new space is on the right. The proposed building is the circle.

Layout with structures

Another view of the proposed space, but this one includes all of the proposed facilities, including underground structures

Below are several artist’s renditions of the building, including three aerial shots, a closeup of the outside of the building, and the employee café.

Aerial Shot #1

Aerial shot #1

Aerial Shot #2

Aerial shot #2

Aerial Shot #3

Aerial shot #3

Building Closeup

Building closeup


Employee café