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.
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