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Samsung opens doors on new Silicon Valley offices

The South Korean company has built a 1.1-million-square-foot campus in San Jose, California, about 12 miles from rival Apple's headquarters.

Samsung's new office in San Jose houses the company's semiconductor business. Samsung

SAN JOSE, California -- Samsung on Thursday officially opened its newest US offices, giving the company a bigger presence in Silicon Valley.

"We really want to leverage the [new site] as the foundation for our presence in Silicon Valley," Jim Elliott, corporate vice president of memory marketing at Samsung, said Thursday during the company's opening ceremony.

The $300 million campus, located north of downtown San Jose, houses research and development and sales operations for Samsung's US semiconductor business, which counts Apple, Nvidia and other companies among its customers. Samsung is the world's biggest vendor of memory chips and the second-biggest processor maker overall after Intel.

Global architecture firm NBBJ designed the 1.1 million-square-foot site, located about 12 miles from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino. The facility includes a 10-story office tower, seven-story parking garage and a green space that links the campus together. "The design seeks to encourage interaction among staff, foster connections with the community and provide a space to attract employees in the highly competitive tech market," Samsung said on a website about its new campus.

The company broke ground in mid-2013. The campus consolidates more than 700 Samsung employees into one location, and the company can ultimately base up to 2,000 workers there.

The electronics giant opened the offices during a ceremony with Oh-Hyun Kwon, Samsung Electronics vice chairman and co-CEO; Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose; and Chuck Reed, the former mayor of San Jose.

Samsung's new offices in San Jose can have up to 2,000 employees. Shara Tibken/CNET

The new offices are part of Samsung's expansion in Silicon Valley, the heart of the tech world and the backyard of rival Apple. Samsung isn't new to the San Francisco Bay Area. It has run research and development and sales operations for displays and semiconductors in the region for more than 30 years. But the company has been making a bigger push over the past couple of years. Being here means Samsung can tap into local talent and have chance encounters with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, partners and startups looking to innovate in areas where the company has struggled, such as software and services.

In Silicon Valley, where spontaneous meetings and random encounters on the street, at restaurants and on hiking trails are a part of daily deal making, Samsung has been seen as missing in action. Apple, its fiercest rival in the market for smartphones and tablets, meanwhile is building a 2.8-million-square-foot circular campus in its hometown of Cupertino. That's so it can gather employees and partners under one roof and increase the odds they'll have the "serendipitous personal encounters" Apple co-founder Steve Jobs believed was key to success.

Samsung largely remains a mystery, even though it's the world's biggest maker of TVs and mobile devices. (Nearly one in five smartphones sold today is made by the company.) Most people can't tell you the businesses it's in -- it makes everything from toasters to tablets. Its executive team doesn't have any household names like Apple's Jobs or Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Walk down any street in the US and ask a tech worker to name the CEO of Samsung and you'll get a blank stare. By building its presence in Silicon Valley, Samsung hopes to change that, as well as be closer to partners and customers.

"With this we are positioning ourselves very well for decades of future growth," co-CEO Kwon said Thursday. "Today, Samsung Electronics is laying the groundwork for a more aggressive rate of growth over the next two decades."