SANTA CLARA -- Square, the mobile payments company, said Monday it has signed a lease for space in Santa Clara that will be its first Silicon Valley office, a move aimed at recruiting experienced tech engineers.

San Francisco-based Square has leased more than 6,500 square feet on Great America Parkway, just south of Highway 237. It expects to initially employ about 50 people there, a combination of existing Square employees and new hires.

"Square is quickly growing and we are actively hiring industry-leading engineers and designers," said Lindsay Wiese, a spokeswoman for Square. "Expanding our presence to Silicon Valley will help us recruit candidates in the South Bay."

Square says it currently has no plans to expand in Santa Clara beyond the current lease, but said the building where it will move would allow for more growth should that become necessary. The company is a tenant in the Santa Clara Gateway project, a newly constructed office complex whose tenants include high-profile tech companies such as Square, GlobalFoundries, Dell and Arista Networks.

In October, Square moved its corporate headquarters to a new location in San Francisco and says it can accommodate nearly 2,000 employees at its Market Street offices. It also has offices in New York, Atlanta, Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada and Tokyo. The company has more than 800 employees worldwide.

Square's most visible product is a square-shaped card reader that serves as a portable device for credit and debit card transactions. The company also offers other payment services for mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.

San Francisco-based Twitter last year leased space for a satellite office in Sunnyvale that initially totaled 8,000 square feet and then later more than doubled to 18,000 square feet. That's enough for about 90 employees of the microblogging social network.

"Some of the companies that want to be looked at as being cool have chosen San Francisco," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, a market researcher. "But the talent pool is here in Silicon Valley. And the costs of housing and apartments are cheaper in Santa Clara County compared to San Francisco."

Plus, by being in Santa Clara County, Square, Twitter and other companies may be attempting to make employment with them more attractive to talented recruits or their current tech workers.

"A lot of the tech engineers have bought homes in Silicon Valley," Bajarin said. "So commuting to San Francisco is not high on their list."

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos.