SAN FRANCISCO -- Salesforce.com said Friday it has rented 714,000 square feet in San Francisco, the largest lease deal in the city's history, becoming the primary tenant in an office tower where the company could move 2,800 to 3,500 employees.
The software company says it expects to hire more than 1,000 employees in the Bay Area this year, expanding its footprint as the largest technology company in San Francisco. Salesforce.com already has more than 4,000 employees in the Bay Area and more than 13,000 employees worldwide.
The office project is currently under construction and will be renamed Salesforce Tower, according to Cushman & Wakefield, which arranged the lease. The 61-story skyscraper is expected to be the tallest on the West Coast.
"Salesforce Tower represents an incredible milestone in our company's history," salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said in a prepared release. "It will be the heart of our global headquarters in San Francisco."
By 2017, the company expects its downtown San Francisco footprint to exceed 2 million square feet -- which would be sufficient space for 8,000 to 10,000 employees in San Francisco alone.
Despite the presence of high-profile companies such as Salesforce, Twitter, Zynga and Square, San Francisco won't be able to challenge Silicon Valley as the dominant tech hub in the Bay Area, analysts said.
"People who say San Francisco is the new tech center rather than Silicon Valley don't know what they're talking about," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies, a market researcher. "San Francisco tech companies have the ability to draw from a rich talent pool up and down the Peninsula. But to say San Francisco is a rival of Silicon Valley is silly."
San Francisco has about 59,700 tech jobs, or 27 percent of the 219,500 tech jobs in Santa Clara County, according to state Employment Development Department figures cited in a recent Bloomberg News report.
From 2010 to 2013, however, San Francisco added tech jobs at a faster pace than Santa Clara County. During that stretch, San Francisco's tech job totals grew 57 percent, while Santa Clara County tech jobs grew 14 percent, the EDD survey found.
"San Francisco can always say it is a rival to Silicon Valley," said Rob Enderle, a San Jose-based tech analyst. "But San Francisco will never reach the point of being dominant. If you are going to launch a startup, it's much more likely to be in Santa Clara County."
Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow at twitter.com/georgeavalos