back to article Steve Jobs' 'spaceship' threatened by massive cost overruns

It appears that the late Steve Jobs' dream of new "spaceship" Apple headquarters is going to cost far more than the $3bn originally planned – that is, if it gets built at all. That price tag has ballooned to $5bn, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing "five people close to the project who were not authorized to speak on the …


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  1. Herby Silver badge

    Well, they could use...

    ...some of the old HP buildings on the site.

    Then again, while they are thinking, they could make a nice patch of grass in the meantime (after they take down all the buildings that are already there, and rip up the parking lots.

    Just an idea.

    p.s. I had a house a couple of blocks away from the site at one time.

    1. deshepherd

      Re: Well, they could use...

      p.s. I had a house a couple of blocks away from the site at one time.

      Used to live in the area (just other side of Stevens Creek) too when I was in "silcon valley" for 3 years from 1998. Remember one day getting back from work and my wife telling me that there'd been lots of traffic a few blocks down of Stevens Creek and that something had been going on at De Anza college ... turned out from the newspapers the next day that Steve Jobs was launching the first product since he'd come back to Apple and it was something called an iMac.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop describing it as circular.

    It's actually a square; it just has *very* rounded corners.

  3. Philippe

    The cost doesn't matter

    There is something really awe inspiring about those "crazy idea" types building.

    It's only private money being used here, no taxpayer was hurt during the build, and it's not like Apple is bleeding cash anyway.

    I hope they build it, just to inspire the next generation of architects.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The cost doesn't matter

      Yep, and the loudest voices complaining are the shareholders who STILL aren't going to get any dividends.

      Fuck 'em.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: The cost doesn't matter

        If the shareholders say no, then it's no.

        It's their building.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: The cost doesn't matter

      Indeed the opposite is true: the more money Apple disperse to building contractors and suppliers that would otherwise have stayed inert in a bank somewhere, the more money ends up in the tax pot. So given Apple's cash reserves I also think they should build as complicated a building as possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The cost doesn't matter

        But the property taxes will eventually eat Apple alive. But I guess much of the office space will be leased at premium prices.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The cost doesn't matter

      If the cost didn't matter, Apple would spend the same $5 billion to give its hourly employees and foreign factory workers a substantial cost-of-living increase.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: The cost doesn't matter (@Andy Prough)

        That'd be only if the cost didn't matter _and_ the prestige of having a fancy building didn't matter. What's going on here is that the latter has been judged hugely to outweigh the former.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: The cost doesn't matter (@Andy Prough)

          >"That'd be only if the cost didn't matter _and_ the prestige of having a fancy building didn't matter. What's going on here is that the latter has been judged hugely to outweigh the former."

          Is it "cost vs prestige"? Or is it "prestige vs giving every hourly wage chump in your sweatshops an extra buck an hour"?

          Or maybe the company could consider paying more than an average tax rate of 9.8% (

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The cost doesn't matter

      "It's only private money being used here, no taxpayer was hurt during the build..."

      Uhhh, can you prove this? I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was remarkable "tax incentives" attached to this. Companies just don't throw a dart at a board in choosing physical presence.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They could always scale it down to the size of an "iSpaceship S".

    1. samlebon23

      No, they keep the very rounded-corner shape, make it float in the ocean and fill it with Foxsconn slaves.

    2. Silverburn

      If naming convention applies, a "iSpaceship Mini" or "Nano", shurely?


  5. TheOtherHobbes

    If they want to save costs

    they should offshore the build to Foxconn.

    Mind you, they'd have an interesting job shipping it through customs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If they want to save costs

      Fly it

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many times has corporate buildings been a sign the company is about to die. ControlData in Minneapolis and the original Cray in Eagan are part of my CV.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      My thoughts exactly....

      It's like computing wise, aside from what they already have on the market, and how civilisation is collapsing, into cutting off your neighbours heads and eating them, what has Apple Inc. got to sell the sheeple, that can convince the delusionists that the end is not really nigh, if you buy their latest shiny, shiny distractions?

      Repackage the same old shit in a different way?

      Or create something marvelous that is injectable, spices into the replicable gene sequences, brings immortality, and can raise the brains quantum computing power by a magnitude of a trillion or something....

      Otherwise it's the same old power sucking shit, in a different package.

      US / world economy collapsing not withstanding.

      And life goes on, only not as we know it, or expected it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Seems you may experienced the Skyscraper Index

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks suspiciously like ...

    a hardon collider - presumably to warp space-time allowing His Stevieness to return to his adoring supplicants.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Looks suspiciously like ...

      Thumbs up for typo.

      (It was a typo right?)

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: Looks suspiciously like ...

      I thought this latest picture made it look like a lost bicycle wheel.

  8. ratfox Silver badge


    Please correct the typo. I had a hard time understanding what you meant.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow. Proof that suffering vast cost overruns and slippages can happen to private-sector companies too, and not something exclusively endemic to governments.

    The new correlation seems to be "having lots of other peoples money to play with". Whether thats billions of shareholders money, or billions of taxpayers money...

  10. ElectricFox

    $385k per occupant?

    Is that what they pay to keep the in-house engineers, or patent lawyers?

  11. Turtle

    Cheese? It could be worse....

    "although Apple may have hit a pair out of the park with its iPhone and iPad, Samsung and others are now tossing hard cheese at Tim Cook's head."

    It's better than if they were throwing their feces at him, after all, even if it would appropriate considering that the building itself is perhaps just a bit too reminiscent of a toilet bowl...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheese? It could be worse....

      It reminds me of a giant bulls eye target.

      The sort that would make for an excellent high altitude dive into it - within the structural loadings of the airframe.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cheese? It could be worse....

        Except that hitting the 'bullseye' would completely miss the building.

        A trap for clueless terrorists?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rules change

    IF it's not the cheapest way to build something then surely they can't build it, after all we are constantly told that companies have a duty to maximise shareholders profits when they are avoiding tax or screwing the public over.

    Or is it one of those flexible rules that seem to only apply when it's convenient, the "we'd like to do this, but gee we can't" and by the way the dog eat my homework type of rule

    1. Jeremy Allison

      Re: rules change

      So long as they don't screw up the access to Ranch99 Chinese Market on Wolfe+Homestead whilst they're building it I'm good.

      It'll make the house prices go up anyway :-).

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: rules change

      Apparently part of the cost is to get the building as energy-efficient as possible. If the upfront cost is higher but it costs next-to-nothing to run, surely it's a win in the long run.

      In my student days I had a summer job at a brewery*. They had just built a new process block that did not require any cooling even though local temperatures went up to 40 celcius, it relied on relatively low-tech stuff - a very thick concrete ceiling to trap heat during the day and release during the night, and an automatic system of opening / closing windows for ventilation (no fans / forcing required).

      This was 15 years ago tech, I'm sure Apple will have a lot better available. With the possibility of generating power from rooftop solar and doing clever things with glass surfaces and blinds I'm sure they could cover all their heating / cooling needs + basic lighting with no ongoing cost outside of maintenance of the systems. On the other hand, considering average utility cost of office buildings in US is $1.51 per sq foot (source EIA, on a 2.8 million sq ft building they would save $4.2 million a year, peanuts if the extra cost is running into 9 or 10 digit number.

      * unfortunately, they did not allow samples in the office. Even more unfortunately, the stench of the brewing process put me off beer for a couple of months

  13. Adam Foxton

    You can tell Jobs is gone

    He'd just have pushed on, got on with it and built the worlds best Office building. Now cook is in charge theyll compromise and compromise until it's utter crap. And still over budget.

  14. Sil

    Too much cash

    Apple already sits on a pile of cash which by any financial standard is wasteful and would be better given back to shareholders, invested in short term Financial instruments or else.

    A building while not necessarily the best return is a better investment than piles of cash sleeping under a mattress and will probably contribute to employee satisfaction as well as reinforce fanbois/customers association of Apple and exclusivity/design/uniqueness.

  15. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Building and dividends...

    I just have two short and to-the-point points:

    a) Straight up, that building looks virtually useless in terms of being an office building. Even if the goal was to involve all that green space in the middle (and clearly it is), a big square would enclose *more* space. I'm for function over form though, not that I want my buildings utilitarian and ugly but in this case the form seems to reduce the function considerably. Apple has always been more form over function, so this building would reflect that, and they have the money so they should be able to build whatever they'd like.

    b) That said, Apple has NEVER given out significant dividends. Investors are IMHO stupid for buying all this Apple stock, then bitching that they aren't getting dividends. Guess what, if you buy stock from a company that doesn't do dividends, YOU DON'T GET DIVIDENDS.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Building and dividends...

      But it has to be round. You can't take a 90o corner at 88MPH!

      The one with the spare flux capacitor in the pocket, thanks.

      1. Jolyon Smith

        Re: Building and dividends...

        Automan could. :)

    2. Jolyon Smith

      Re: Building and dividends...


      But of course, what you need to take into account is that they bought Apple stock not for dividend returns, but for capital growth. Now that it looks like they have lost that bet, they are clamouring for the divvies. They want their cake and to eat it too.

      Thing is, a lot of them already had their cake and missed their chance to eat it because they were greedily waiting for it to grow even bigger on the plate. Tough titties to them I say.

    3. James Micallef Silver badge

      @Henry Wertz - geometry fail

      "a big square would enclose *more* space."

      If by "big square" you mean a square into which the circle would fit, of course it would enclose more space, that's trivially true. It would also enclose more space if they had a bigger circle, or indeed a bigger triangle.

      On the other hand, for a given size of building (taking the inner edge and assuming a constant buidling 'width'), then a circle is the shape that will enclose the most area inside.

  16. Eddy Ito Silver badge


    2.8 million square foot doughnut? FFSMS the least you could do is include translation into proper units! I've even done it for you, it's 12.5 MicroWales and the inner courtyard is 4.74 MicroWales. Much better and when put that way $5B doesn't sound like quite so much for a d'oh-nut. Of course this doesn't count the two basement levels or the voids on the three levels above the 259 NanoWales restaurant but pobody's nerfect.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: Honestly

      Honestly, isn't it time to give it a well earned rest with these ridiculous "pseudo-units".

      Meaningless shite most of the time.

      1. DF118

        Re: Honestly


    2. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: Honestly

      Area=1 iDonut

  17. Mikey

    Just like the rest of the product line...'s flashy, over-priced, features rather odd design choices and is really of no use to anyone who needs something practical. Given that the original design was to use the central space to house Jobs' ego, I think they could easily shrink it now, and rejig the whole thing to resemble the excellence of their products.

    I'm thinking a large cube on stilts, with a big hole in the top for ventilation...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just like the rest of the product line...

      The large donut hole in the middle is for throwing shareholders' money into, big enough for ALL of it.

  18. Mephistro Silver badge

    That is Steve...

    ... sending the World a Goatse!

  19. bazza Silver badge

    Round buildings don't work

    The furniture doesn't fit...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Round buildings don't work

      That's why it's over-budget : they suddenly realized they needed curved furniture !

  20. praos

    It costs about $386k per occupant. Too many greens for this green building, as it regulary goes with green project. A nice job, with many green jobs, Steve Jobs.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How on earth is it costing them that much to build? GCHQ's building, which is a SUSPICIOUSLY SIMILAR shape, houses about 1/3 the number of workers, but has some very specialist requirements (you've never seen such shiny windows). That was a government project but cost a mere £250m to build. $5b? Someone's taking the piss.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      It's all in the materials

      For the windows, they're all back-to-back pairs of iPads linked via Facetime to show a picture of the outside world to the occupants.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's all in the materials

        Coat or not, let's have a think..

        The building has an outer diameter of 1560ft, giving an outer circumference of about 4770ft.

        The inner diameter of 1250ft gives an inner circumference of about 4200ft, so a total of about 9,000ft

        At four stories, allowing about 10ft per storey, we've got a total window area of about 90,000ft^2, or about 8300m^2

        An ipad has typical dimensions of 240mmx186mm, or about 44600mm^2, or about 0.045m^2 each

        To cover the full 8300m^2 would therefore require approximately 184,444 ipads. To have one on each side for facetime windows would require a shade under 370,000. At a typical retail price of $500 for an ipad with retina (because you can't be skimping on windows!) that gives a cost for the exterior ipads-as-windows of...


        So, er, where's the rest of the money going?

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: It's all in the materials

          > So, er, where's the rest of the money going?

          Good analysis, but you forgot the WiFi/mobile network kit required to connect all these FaceTime sessions. I'm sure it could be frigged with cables between each pair, but that's not the style of elegant solution that St Steve would have wanted, and would result in some fairly exotic antenna systems to provide dedicated bandwidth to each session. This has the added bonus of the possibility for some controlling software somewhere that can change the orientation of the external view - picture it as a sort of carousel of views that someone in the building could move around if they wanted to re-orient their office.

    2. hayseed
      Thumb Up

      Apple needs to talk to GCHQ. I would think that requirements would be similar, considering Apple's attitude towards product development.

  22. Ian Johnston
    Thumb Down

    What the fuck does Apple need a headquarters this size for? They sell about a dozen things, none of which they make themselves. They do no technical development whatsoever, just styling. Some software development, sure, but since iOS has been stuck with the same interface since the start there doesn't seem to be much of that either, and when there is Apple Maps shows the quality of what they do.

    This is clearly goldfish-in-reception territory with bells on. Any company which can contemplate spending $5bn on an office is circling the drain. Sell.

    1. Nigel 11

      Any company which can contemplate spending $5bn on an office is circling the drain

      And the drain is of course right there on the plans. Has to be, or rain would fall in and not get out util water pressure broke the inside windows. One BIG drain at the EXACT centre?

  23. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It's Apple's money

    Frankly I don't see why people are getting all worked up over it - it's not their money after all.

    A private company is welcome to build the stupidest things it wants to, and with well over $100 billion to play with, Apple can spare $5 billion on nonsense like this.

    Yes, I do think it's useless to build a round building. I suspect either a lot of space will be wasted, or a lot of money will be (to buy expensive rounded furniture). No, I am not particularly impressed with the "eco-friendly" claim that is being made. It's a massive building, there will be massive amounts of trucks and Caterpillars and such gas-guzzlers buzzing around there for years, and only time will tell if the build quality is worth it and the temperature-control methods envisioned are really all that efficient. In any case, it is the project of a private company, with private money, that is not going to cause oil spills or massive ecological damage. It's a building, and it's Apple's building. If Apple's shareholders want it, they get it, end of.

    It is no use criticizing billionaire projects - those people don't live in the same world we do. We can, however, point and laugh at shareholders who prefer squandering money instead of getting dividends. Those shareholders being billionairs, it won't be much use either (except to make ourselves feel good).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought.

    "Apple to use only green power for main data center". Remember this from a while back?

    $2 billion will go to figure out where they are going to get green power for this round building.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WOW what a suck up that Cupertino Mayor is!

  26. Silverburn

    Well duh

    oooh look, a construction job that overruns on cost.

    Pope is catholic, bear in woods, etc etc.

    If you want to gouge customers and watch them beg for more, forget Apple...get into construction.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Well duh

      OH SNAP!

  27. Edgar Scrutton

    Virtual Office

    Impressive, and archaic. For a digital company this looks like the Roman Coliseum to my eyes. As usual execs looking backwards to define their view of existance. Steve Jobs is sadly gone.

  28. ecofeco Silver badge


    Maybe they can cut the "frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads," and save some money there?

  29. k9gardner

    Cheesy reference?

    I'm not sure who among you believes that Americans speak in terms of tossing hard cheese at someone's head, but this writer has never heard such an utterance. Perhaps you've lifted it from the marvelous English (not specifically American, however) phrasebook, "English as She is Spoke."

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    based on previous experience with San Jose and Cupetino

    somehow the taxpayers...err.. The City will end up footing a bunch of this. For a couple mil in kickbacks the Bitten Fruit will save a billion or so. Then when the councilman/politician is caught out and convicted, gets the wrist slap and a tiny fine, the city will STILL continue on the path that was approved thru criminal means. Even if the pol gets fined the whole amount of the bribe or more, Apple doesn't end up with any increase in cost.

    See garbage contracts in San Jose or the current Shirikawa scandal for a taste when the media actually dares publish this sort of thing.

  31. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    " dream project..."

    To a good first approximation, a $5B project contains approximately $5B worth of incorporated resources (at the 'cradle' end of the cradle-to-grave total life-cycle environmental footprint).

    Spending vast sums of money is fundamentally and inherently the exact opposite of "eco-friendly".

    I don't mind the expense; it's the BS eco-hypocrisy that annoys me.

  32. jubtastic1
    Thumb Up

    Looks like a spaceship

    Priced like a spaceship,

    Flies like a spaceship

    To infinity loop and beyond!

    1. A. N. Other-Coward Silver badge

      Re: Looks like a spaceship

      Could it be a Stargate or some sort of time portal ? May be they have earmarked the rest of the cash pile for the research. Then they can keep going back in time and get Steve Jobs' opinion on the latest designs/get his input.

      They could also go forward in time, get the cure of cancer, go back, cure Steve Jobs' cancer, rewrite history.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    '...possibly "the best office building in the world"...'

    Carlsberg make Apple HQs now?

  34. Bod

    Suspiciously like a spaceship

    Even more convinced Jobs was the offspring of L Ron Hubbard.

  35. majorursa
    Big Brother

    Megalomania much?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Massive HQ was a sell signal. Always is, like a company getting 'Investor in People' award or announcing they are ISO 9001 compliant.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It would be far easier and cost effective to commandeer a passing doughnut-shaped space creature and make it your new headquarters like in Star Trek's Far Point station.

    Just don't let any passing star ships re-energise it with an energy beam and you're set!

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