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Retailer cultivates tech talent

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SAN BRUNO, Calif. — Walmart’s growing operation here is evidence of the retailer’s commitment to make the investments necessary to compete and win in e-commerce.

Walmart’s growing operation here is evidence of the retailer’s commitment to make the investments necessary to compete and win in e-commerce.

The company currently employs about 2,200 people in its offices in Silicon Valley, and about 3,600 worldwide. And those operations continue to grow.

"We’ve chosen to situate ourselves here in Silicon Valley for what I think are obvious reasons, including the fact that it’s really the best area in the country for tech talent," says Michael Bender, Walmart executive vice president and chief operating officer for global e-commerce.

Bender says he is sometimes asked whether Walmart is really able to compete with the other big e-commerce businesses in Silicon Valley in terms of attracting top talent.

The answer is a definitive yes, he says.

"One of the things that folks really love about joining Walmart, and one of the reasons that they cite for wanting to come here, is that they really like to solve hard problems," Bender explains. "Particularly hard problems that scale. That is something we can definitely offer. And there’s no bigger set of data out there than what’s available for our people to glean insights from and use to quickly develop tools that will help us reach our millions of customers in more significant ways."

Walmart has grown its Silicon Valley operation organically, through the constant hiring that goes on at its San Bruno offices, and also through the acquisition of start-up companies.

"We’ve made a total of 14 acquisitions in the past three years or so," Bender says, "and that’s an important factor in the way we go to business as well. It has allowed us to pick up some exciting new capabilities, and also to bring on some really talented people."

Bender points out that Walmart occupies a unique position, as the world’s largest retailer and one of its fastest-growing online retailers. And its global e-commerce business has a unique culture of its own.

"What people here like about us is that even though we’re a large company, we situate the teams in small working groups that function almost like start-ups that operate within a large organization that also has the resources to be able to get things done," Bender says. "So many of the things that are attractive about working in a start-up environment also exist here, in addition to the ability to leverage the business at scale. We think of ourselves as building a technology company inside the world’s largest retailer."


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