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SlideshowSlide Show: Moto Mobility's New Chicago Digs
Sarah Thomas

Two years after Google announced it would move Motorola Mobility's headquarters to downtown Chicago, the handset company is finally opening the doors to its sprawling new digs.

But a lot has changed since the big move was announced. After acquiring the struggling handset maker for $12.5 billion in 2012, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced in January that it was selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo Group Ltd. (Hong Kong: 992) for $2.9 billion. (See Google Closes $12.5B Motorola Deal and Lenovo to Buy Motorola From Google?)

The acquisition will probably close in the coming months, but in the meantime, Moto's new pad is all Google, from the layout to the art to the game room. Light Reading was on hand for the grand opening festivities on Tuesday. Click the image below to start your personal tour of the 75,000-square-foot facility on the Chicago river.


Meet the New Moto
Local graffiti artists inked up the Merchandise Mart to give itthe Google-esque vibe Moto was seeking.
Local graffiti artists inked up the Merchandise Mart to give it
the Google-esque vibe Moto was seeking.

The company has moved 2,000 employees from its previous headquarters 40 miles away in Libertyville, Ill., to the new spot in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, not far from where the company was founded more than 80 years ago.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who addressed reporters at the official grand opening Tuesday, said that Google wasn't deciding between Libertyville and Chicago for Moto's headquarters. It was Chicago or Silicon Valley. He is making a big push to make Chicago the digital destination.

Motorola's huge presence in the city will be a big boon to that, provided nothing changes under Lenovo's ownership. The Chinese company will take over the lease as part of its acquisition, but the building is clearly a product of Google's ownership, at least for now. And Google itself sets up shop nearby Moto's new digs, though the company plans to move to the city's West Loop next year.

Motorola has struggled to compete in the handset market in recent years, including under Google's wing, but President Rick Osterloh pointed out that it managed to ship 6.5 million devices in the first quarter, a 31% increase from the previous quarter and a 61% increase from a year earlier. It's also betting big on wearables with its new smartwatch, the Moto 360.

"This move comes at a very meaningful time for us," Osterloh said. "We are, as Motorola, really changing. In a similar way to how Chicago is going through a dramatic transformation, Motorola is going through a dramatic transformation."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
4/30/2014 | 8:37:30 PM
Re: Re. Rooftop
Ok, I'm just going to point out that it's not lost on me that you have become Light Reading's "Person to Go Visit Cool Work Sites." 

I don't know what to say about that, other than "Jealous."  

And, I'm hoping that this post hasn't blown your cover and you're able to go tour many more.
User Rank: Light Beer
4/26/2014 | 8:26:53 PM
Re: Re. Rooftop
@eurichardson and @sarahreedy - if you just gave that employee the bad review - depending on how bad it was - you actually might not mind having them on the roof! just a little dark humor for the weekend  ;-) 
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/24/2014 | 2:12:35 PM
Re: Re. Rooftop
haha good point. Although reviews or any meetings on the roof during the summer would be just lovely.
User Rank: Light Bulb
4/24/2014 | 2:10:00 PM
Re. Rooftop
You don't want an employee who just got a poor annual performance review on the rooftop.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/23/2014 | 3:42:24 PM
Re: Food glorious food
The theory with regard to gamerooms is that employees can discuss business problems while they're playing. Or blow off steam while their subconscious works on problems. Or something like that. 

As for the amenities, it keeps employees from having to go off-campus and allows them to devote more time to work. Need to exercise? Your office has as gym right there. Why go home to eat? We've got better food here.

The writer John Scalzi worked for AOL in the 90s, then left and started a career as a successful science fiction writer and blogger. In that capacity, he was asked to speak at Google, and got the tour. They proudly showed him the luxury amenities -- spa, gourmet cafeteria, all that -- and were chagrined when he said, yeah, we had all that at AOL. _Sic transit gloria mundi._  
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/23/2014 | 2:57:27 PM
Re: Food glorious food
Yeah, snacks and problem solving are not mutually exclusive! But if you visited any of these startup type places, you'd think the key to attracting talent was cool amentities and game rooms, which seems counterproductive. But, I'm sure there are studies that prove me wrong. Google's built its business on it after all. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/23/2014 | 2:55:32 PM
Food glorious food
Needs more food photos.

I want the job of testing phones to see if they can be destroyed. I'd be very good at it.

"Smart people don't care about snacks. They care about working on important problems"? What, you can't have a snack while working on important problems? Albert Einstein never had a nosh?

I love the cover on the notebook the bowtie-wearing guy is using. It seems to be something like this. Very nice!
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/23/2014 | 11:18:54 AM
Re: Bob Galvin
Which part is the indignity?
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/23/2014 | 11:11:30 AM
Bob Galvin
Bob must be spinning in his grave.  One more indignity piled on the remains of a once-great company.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/22/2014 | 6:39:46 PM
The Lenovo effect
Interesting that there was very little mention of Google today and absolutely no mention of Lenovo. I asked our tour guide, who is with the architecture firm that designed it, and he said there have been discussions with Moto's new parent about what kind of presence and influence they want to have on the HQ, but nothing concrete yet. My biggest concern would be what influence they want on the size of it and if they'd plan to downsize or relocate at all. I hope not!
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