Weekly Roundup: VMWare, Lowes Hiring, and More Good Job Stats

Dice News Roundup

In one of Silicon Valley’s biggest real estate deals in years, cloud-computing pioneer VMware confirmed that it’s expanding its headquarters in the Stanford Research Park. It’s taking over another 1 million square feet of building space. The move brings with it as many as 2,500 new jobs, and could make VMware the largest employer in Palo Alto, outside of Stanford University and its hospitals.

Lowe’s plans to fill up to 300 IT jobs, including 150 new positions. The jobs, which cover a variety of IT areas, will be based in Mooresville, N.C., the home improvement retailer’s headquarters. The company wants to support the operations of more than 1,750 stores nationwide, create user-friendly processes and applications on Lowe’s.com, ensure secure data sharing and storage, and prepare for future platforms that will help Lowe’s better serve customers. It now has more than 1,000 full-time IT workers.

Each week seems to bring a new set of encouraging employment stats from the  trenches of Silicon Valley. The region’s unemployment level dropped in April to its lowest point in more than two years, the State of California reports. Santa Clara County’s unemployment rate stepped down to 9.9 percent, the first time it’s been below double digits since February 2009. San Mateo County’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in April from 8.4 percent in March. As one recruiter put it, “It’s gone from companies having their pick of candidates to candidates saying ‘Where do I want to work?’” In the San Jose metro area, the information sector — which includes Internet search and Web portals — has added 5,600 jobs in the past 12 months, a 13 percent gain.

IPO fever in the tech sector continues. Zynga, the biggest maker of games on Facebook, may file for an initial public offering by the end of June to capitalize on demand for shares of social-media startups. This comes in the wake of LinkedIn’s dramatic IPO last week, which was followed by Yandex NV, Russia’s most popular Web-search provider. It surged 55 percent on its first day. On deck may be Pandora Media, HomeAway Inc., and Chinese company Cloudary. With 61 offerings so far this year, action is hotter than in 2010, but still lower than 2007, when there were 83 by this time. And it’s much lower than 2000, when 185 companies went public by the end of May.

How would like to be appointed ambassador from the nation of Facebook? The social media giant is planning to ramp up its lobbying power with the appointment of a set of “international directors of policy.” It’s hiring people all over the globe, from the UK to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, to act as its primary contacts with government officials. Their task: to “build coalitions with other organizations to advance policy goals on Facebook and create innovative programs for outreach to policy makers on the opportunities offered by Facebook.”

In somewhat related news, the City of San Francisco has come up with a bundle of tax breaks for top tech companies to ensure that they stay in town rather than take their new riches and run to a more tax-friendly locale.

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg might contend that the fastest route to success in technology is to drop out of school, and others are more than willing to follow their debatable example. On Wednesday, the Thiel Foundation, funded by billionaire tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, announced the first group of Thiel Fellows, 24 people under 20 who have agreed to drop out of school in exchange for a $100,000 grant and mentorship to start a tech company. More than 400 people applied. The winners include Laura Deming, 17, who is working anti-aging therapies; Faheem Zaman, 18, who is building mobile payment systems for developing countries; and John Burnham, 18, who is working on extracting minerals from asteroids and comets.

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