Alza Corp. leaving city after 17 years


Last October, Mountain View officials and community members gathered in Alza Corporation's lobby to celebrate a groundbreaking partnership with the city. Harnessing methane gas from the landfill under Shoreline Park, Alza planned to generate power for its corporate office, bringing in revenue for the city and helping the environment for years to come.

But no one guessed the longtime local company would be leaving town within a year.

Johnson and Johnson, the company's owner, announced late last month that Alza, one of Mountain View's largest employers and philanthropic donors, will be leaving Mountain View along with sister company Scios, laying off 600 employees in the process.

The company's headquarters next to Google on Charleston Road will be up for sale by the end of the year.

"It's a drag," said city finance director Bob Locke. "They've been here a long time."

Since moving to Mountain View in 1990, the company has donated to local nonprofits such as the Community Services Agency and Rotacare, commissioned the "tetra helix" statue in North Bayshore, partnered with the Mountain View Whisman School District to provide a hands-on science program called "Science at Shoreline" -- all while employing hundreds of people locally.

"Alza will have no presence in Mountian View after next year," said Nancy Noe, government relations director. "I'm sure that will be felt."

The company's generosity was significant enough to prompt a Voice article in 2003 titled "Could the giving stop?" -- probing whether Johnson and Johnson's 2001 purchase of the company would affect its local philanthropy.

Founded in 1968 by Dr. Alejandro Zaffaroni, Alza's main business is producing timed-release medication capsules used to treat attention deficit disorder and other illnesses. The company's name comes from the first letters of the founders first and last name. Noe said community involvement was always one of Zafforoni's goals.

"It's always been a part of the corporate culture," she said.

The company shares its building with Scios, another Johnson and Johnson company facing cutbacks. Scios specializes in a treatment for congestive heart failure. Besides the 600 layoffs, about 200 employees from both companies will be transferred out of the Bay Area, and Alza's research and development efforts will discontinue, reports say.

Johnson and Johnson bought Alza in 2001 for $10.5 million and Scios in 2003 for $2.3 million. At the time, Alza's corporate communications director, John Liu, said the company had no plans to change its Mountain View operations and hoped the merger would boost Alza's marketing efforts here and abroad.

Like other companies in the pharmaceutical business, Johnson and Johnson faces reduced profits, in particular as a result of expired patents and slow drug sales. The company is reportedly laying off 4 percent of its global workforce -- a total of 4,820 jobs -- in order to save $1.3 billion.

Alza was named an outstanding company by the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce in 2005. The company employs former council member Noe as government relations director. She will remain on at another Bay Area Johnson and Johnson company.

Locke said the company's contribution to the city budget in sales tax dollars was in the tens of thousands. But the real loss is the people, he said.

The company has donated money locally to the Rotacare clinic at El Camino Hospital, the county's Healthy Kids medical insurance program, the annual Diversity Youth Forum, the Mountain View-based group For Those in Pain, and numerous other organizations and projects.

The company's Science at Shoreline program was of particular interest to Noe. "I'm hopeful that another company will pick that up and keep that going," she said.

Many wonder what will happen to Alza's building at 1900 Charleston Road, and its methane gas generation plant, when the company leaves. The generators were lauded as an environmental "win-win" by taking the landfill's methane gas and turning it into electricity, resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 1,500 cars off the road annually.

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3 people like this
Posted by Alfred
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Actually, Johnson and Johnson bought Alza in 2001 for $12 Billion, not million as reported in this story from the Wall Street Journal last week.

"Late yesterday, J&J said it would close the Mountain View, Calif., headquarters of Alza, a company it bought for $12 billion in 2001, eliminating 600 positions and moving 200 others from Alza and another company, Scios, to other J&J locations."

3 people like this
Posted by GSB
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 9, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Sad to see a good neighbor go.

3 people like this
Posted by starriderrick
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 21, 2007 at 1:24 am

A sign of the times, it's not a good sign.The Alza building looks like a ghost town.

3 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2007 at 4:18 pm

I have read that a number of young beagle dogs that were reportedly used in some type of research are being left without a place to go and are reportedly in danger of euthanasia. Perhaps those of you who live in the area can verify that and if necessary, adopt one of those adorable little doggies.

3 people like this
Posted by Mona
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:36 am

Here is the paragraph being circulated to various rescue groups....

Alza Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson Company is closing their
Mountain View facility. The animal test facility has 40, 16 month old
beagle puppies that DESPERATELY need good loving homes. These dogs
were NEVER tested. If you know of anyone, a rescue /or/ are interested in helping give these puppies homes, please contact Rick Bible at


3 people like this
Posted by Nobody
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:31 pm

This information is inaccurate, please disregard. The company already had an adoption program in place and dogs have been placed in good homes. They were never in danger of euthenasia, and it is peoples jobs to take animal care very seriously. Such a need would be met well in advance of an imagined deadline.

3 people like this
Posted by ger
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 4, 2007 at 12:58 pm

where is the shelter that the dogs are placed? can people still go and adopt one of the puppies

3 people like this
Posted by Allison
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2007 at 10:18 am

This is a false statement. Please see the Alza website:
Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by Patt Wilson
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2007 at 2:42 pm

It's not the dogs in risk of euthanasia, it's the employees. As a career counselor, I am always surpised at how indifferent and desensitized that we have become to this sort of thing.

I have discussed the people cost of Alza's closure and impact to the talent base caused by mergers and acquistions in my blog Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by Henry McDowell M.D.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 10, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Animal testing is old cruel and very very unproductive.
Are the puppies really save ?
Alza? Ha! They don't care about their employees.
Why would they care about the puppies ?

5 people like this
Posted by Truth
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2009 at 6:07 am

ALZA was an amazing place to work and the people dedicated everything to the work that was being done. It's a once-in-a-lifetime career experience that I wish everyone could have. I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn from the best.

3 people like this
Posted by Michele
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 9, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Hi does anyone know if Aliza is still around? If so where and can I please have the phone, if not just wondering what happened to the company

3 people like this
Posted by michele
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 9, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Sorry meant to say *alza

3 people like this
Posted by TJ
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2015 at 11:50 am

@ Michelle- Alza had 2 locations that were purchased by JNJ. One location in Mountain View was closed. The other location in Vacaville has not closed and is currently operating. The name of the Vacaville facility is now Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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