Slide Show: Moto Mobility's New Chicago Digs

There's a lot of Google influence and no sign of Lenovo in Moto's new 75,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Chicago.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

April 22, 2014

17 Slides

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.

Figure 1: 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

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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