MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Google (GOOG) over the last few weeks has struck deals to rent or buy more than 1 million square feet of offices in Santa Clara County, including the purchase of several Mountain View buildings in recent days, extending a stunning expansion by the Internet giant.
This square footage would suffice to contain 4,600 to 5,800 Google employees, based on an estimate of one employee for every 200 to 250 square feet of space.
"We haven't seen this kind of growth in a Bay Area tech company before," said Tom Foremski, editor of Silicon Valley Watch, an online site that tracks technology trends in the Bay Area.
In the most recent set of deals, Google paid $246 million to buy seven buildings in Mountain View that total 235,000 square feet. The Internet company paid cash for the properties, Santa Clara County property records show. Google didn't return calls about the purchases, which were all officially recorded with Santa Clara County.
Earlier in the month, Mountain View-based Google confirmed it had leased a big Sunnyvale building, also totaling 235,000 square feet, near the corner of 11th Avenue and Innovation Way. And in mid-August, Google leased a 500,000-square-foot Mountain View campus at 100 Mayfield Road near San Antonio Road.
Together, the various realty deals total 1.16 million square feet in a roughly one-month period. In 2010, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing stated that Google at that time occupied about 4.2 million square feet at its Mountain View headquarters. That could soon grow: Google is busy with tenant improvements for a move into 715,000 square feet in Sunnyvale, which could put its current South Bay footprint in the range of 5 million square feet, enough for 20,000 to 25,000 employees in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.
"Google is in very-high-growth mode, obviously," said Phil Mahoney, a Cornish & Carey executive vice president who has handled several major leasing deals on behalf of property owners that were leasing offices to Google in Santa Clara County. "They have to put their employees somewhere."
The only other huge spurt of Silicon Valley growth that experts recalled in recent decades was the big-time growth by Cisco (CSCO) Networks in the past. But that occurred over a much longer period of time than the current Google boom, which began about two years ago with the company's expansion into Sunnyvale for the first time.
By comparison, Facebook's headquarters campus in Menlo Park also totals 1 million square feet, but that complex represents nearly all of the social-networking giant's Bay Area operations. For Google, 1 million square feet, while considerable, would still be only a portion of the company's current or future office space.
Google is still planning a major campus at the NASA Ames research center near the company's headquarters that would total 1 million square feet.
Over the last two years, Google has leased, bought or is actively planning to develop more than 3.1 million square feet of offices in Mountain View and Sunnyvale -- enough space for 12,000 to 16,000 employees. That includes the yet-to-be-built campus on the NASA Ames site.
"Google's growth is unique," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, a market research firm. "The Google search-engine business that's tied to their ads is growing exponentially. Their mobile is growing fast. They need much more staff to code, market and manage what they are doing in advertising, and more offices for those employees."
Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167 or 408-373-3556. Follow him at twitter.com/georgeavalos.