Silicon Valley North? How America’s two tech hubs are converging

Yes, there is kind of a rivalry between SF and Seattle, one that the Seattleites do not want to acknowledge (also maybe because Seattle is much more peripheral and provincial).
But the number of people that appreciate the quality and the potential of the northern location is continuously increasing, or the number of people that consider moving here. Yes, difficult not to notice, given that the number of cranes in Seattle is the same as SFO, Chicago & NY combined ;)

Here comes a new article from the Economist that provides a different view: the 2 hubs are actually converging, because of the exchange of capital, brainware and people.
There are 25+ flights daily between SFO and SEA, 10+ between SEA and SJC, 10 between Oakland and SEA. Can you figure how many people daily that means?

Seattle and Silicon Valley are now joined at the hip.
The best approach is to make that connection as efficient as possible, says Rich Barton, a serial entrepreneur. He not only started Zillow and Expedia, a giant online travel site, among other Seattle firms, but is a partner at Benchmark, a leading VC firm in the valley.
Rather than relying on flights, which are often delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, he says, someone should build a high-speed rail line.Or an hyperloop? ;)

Why Seattle startups have an advantage

Nice comments from Microsoft M&A Exec Bob Kelly at the last Mile9 cohort graduation event: “Here’s the ‘dirty secret’ about Silicon Valley, and why Seattle startups have an advantage”.

Bob Kelly arguments that Silicon Valley startups typically gain early sales momentum because they sell to other startup or mid-tier companies in the Valley.
But in Seattle — which lacks that sort of dynamic startup ecosystem and robust buying and selling environment —startups need to find real customers who fork out cash because the technology solves a real problem.

“That is a huge asset. It may not feel like the bootstrapping mechanism you get in the Valley,” said Kelly. “But, boy, I’ll tell you what, you get a different kind of company coming out of Seattle. And that is a really, really powerful platform to build from.”

The flip side of that is that the Valley tends to create companies forged with entrepreneurs who have “a bit more of the killer instinct,” while “Seattle is just so nice,” said Kelly.

Nice and better founded? maybe.


Seattle again in the top tech cities in America

Again, Seattle is at the top in the ranking for tech cities in America.

A new article from Bloomberg, based on the 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, shows San Jose (eg the Silicon Valley) as the top city, followed by Bridgeport CT, then SF and Seattle.

More than the ranking per se, it is the overall growth of the West (including Portland, LA, SLC and Denver) that is interesting. As well as how growth is even accelerating in some of these metro areas.

That is where Seattle is definitely showing its muscle: the number of tech ventures that are growing around the usual suspects (Microsoft, Amazon, and now Tableau, Expedia, Inrix, Parallels, Concur, Apptio…) is abundant and covers some of the most fun new tech areas (cloud, IoT, etc.).
And yes, this will lead to population growth, traffic, increase in real estate values, all good problems to tackle. And technology will hopefully help in addressing them!

From startups to VC perspective

You may want to read this article, where Ryan Sarver (previous platform guru @Twitter and other) describes his transition from being a startupper to a VC, and what difference it makes in the perspective of risk, time, success factors.

The reason this is important if you are on the startup front is because you have to think in this terms to optimize your value story, and determine what are the most relevant components of your idea; how a balanced, well thought approach provides a better assessment of a business idea. Put your innate optimism away, look at your plan critically, attack it from various angles.

And if it stands all your critics and doubts, be proud, just make the best presentation ever!

Smart Cities

There is a growing number of people that try to define a city to be “smart”:

smart cities find ways to become more efficient, to deliver more services via mobile technology, to optimize existing infrastructure, and to leverage citizen participation to create better land-use decisions and to break down bureaucracy in order to stimulate a creative, entrepreneurial economy. In short, smart cities are innovative cities.

Yes, I think that ranking them year after year, as if incredible changes affect them so often, it’s a bit of stretch; but it is interesting to read the reasons behind, and check how comes that Seattle ranks #1 in North America.

Read the article “The 10 Smartest Cities In North America”, and see what it says on how

 Seattle (..) is also a quality hub for startups and is one of the only North American cities with more than 1,000 open data sets which are offered for transparency but also to support the growth of startups and introduction of mobile apps to improve mobility and quality of life in the city. In the 2012 publication of the Global Startup Ecosystem Index, Seattle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was ranked fourth in the world.

“Mountains and salmon and coffee and rain” of Seattle

Tableau (DATA) is top on the economic news these days, thanks to the great success of its IPO, that even few days after keeps humming at +75% vs. the initial offering price – kudos!

Well, ten years ago Tableau’s founders decided they needed a change of scenery and chose the “mountains and salmon and coffee and rain” of Seattle, in what CEO Christian Chabot has called one of the best decisions the company has made.

This is an unequivocal endorsement of the Seattle area as a place to build technology companies in general, and of the region’s leadership in big data (as well as cloud, mobile apps, gaming…).

“Seattle is in the catbird seat—because of the ‘big guys’ (Amazon, Microsoft, and a significant Google presence) and also because of smaller companies like Tableau, Zillow, Inrix, Sage Bionetworks, and many others,” says University of Washington computer science professor Ed Lazowska in an email. “We can ‘own’ this.”

Two things then: a great pool of talents, and a culture for innovation that is facilitated by a higher than average adoption of technology.

Seattle startups ride cloud of innovation

Once again, an article describes that Seattle and its tech start ups are alive and kicking, and driving innovation and economic growth.

Different from the past in fact,  the Valley’s been fretting about a slowdown in venture funding for consumer Web companies: “consumer behaviors are starting to ossify on the Web, and it is harder than ever to build a large audience from a standing start.” (Fred Wilson, VC)

In Seattle there is a very interesting and different situation, since the specific areas of start up focus (namely, cloud computing, biotech, mobile) make for a healthy and growing ecosystem, and capital aligns better with their opportunities and timeline.

“These companies don’t get the buzz of the Valley’s groovy consumer startups. But those that survived the recession and steadily built strong businesses are moving into position for big breakouts over the next year or two.”

What is definitely sure is that the sentiment of most people in the tech space is positive to excited, the rate of companies looking for hiring folks is increasing, Microsoft says they cannot hire fast enough for the new job openings, Amazon is planning to break ground on the 3 towers for its new HQ next to Lake Union.

This looks all positive, and helps a bunch in these months of wintery gloomy weather!


Seattle the #1 Best City for Technology Jobs in the US

This is the news that Forbes publishes, based on high-tech employment data collected from EMSI and charted by the Praxis Strategy Group.

During tough economic times, technology is often seen as the one bright spot. In the U.S. this past year technology jobs outpaced the overall rate of new employment nearly four times. But if you’re looking for a tech job, you may want to consider searching outside of Silicon Valley. “


The study articulates how this is the product of long- and short-term jobs generated by the local powerhouses: Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing.

Well, Microsoft is still hiring, even if they are reshuffling their workforce more often now then ever, and they lay off more and more people as the product of a HR process.
But the number of jobs at Amazon, or all other growing gaming, mobile, biotech, cloud computing companies is now growing with increasing speed, and their total number is amazing. More than other, the vibe is good.

Microsoft Partner Network: membership vs. guidance

The Microsoft Partner Program (MPN – PartnerNetwork now) has its cycles and now, as any other year, all partners are asked to check and renew their credentials; see here the support plan from the Partner Team to help out partners in need.

Given the impact of the cloud and the business transformation it necessarily drives (yes, I am talking again of the cloud and its opportunity, see the recent study from Unisys if you wish to gauge how important it can be for you) – shouldn’t they help you more in addressing the challenge  at hand?

The move to the cloud it’s not only about products and features and programs, but mostly about planning the business in a new and strategic way! Microsoft should step up and provide more guidance for its partners

Where taxes hit the most

A new and updated report on Tax Revenues has been published from OECD.
Some good news: taxes are decreasing a bit (“driven downward by declining economic activity and tax cuts”), in average; but these good news are not consistent across the world though, and 8 countries in Western Europe are above 40%:

  • Denmark has the highest tax burden, closely followed by Sweden. The Danish tax burden was 48.2% in 2009, closely followed by Sweden at 46.4%.
  • Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy and Norway also have tax burdens over 40%.
  • Mexico, with a 17.5% tax to GDP ratio, and Chile, with 18.2%, have the lowest tax to GDP ratios amongst OECD countries, followed by the U.S. 24.0% and Turkey 24.6%.
  • The tax burden declined more than 5 percentage points between 2007 and 2009 in Spain from 37.3% to 30.7%, Iceland from 40.6% to 34.1%, and Chile from 24.0% to 18.2%.
  • Greece, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States showed declines of 3-4 percentage points from 2007 – 2009.

Definitely, taxes are not the same for everyone!

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