You Talkin’ To Me? Seattle Tech Scene Takes on All Comers
Beneath the friendly, laid-back veneer, the Seattle tech community is a rough-and-tumble lot ready to throw down at a moment’s notice. That’s what you might surmise after the past week, anyway. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. (Though the heat wave might have had something to do with it.)
Here’s a quick update for those who missed the action:
—We’re getting pretty sick of being compared to Silicon Valley. Most of the time, we defer to the sheer number of startups, entrepreneurs, and venture firms in the Bay Area, taking solace in the quality of our talent and companies. But every once in a while, someone really stirs the pot, like UW TechTransfer’s Janis Machala did last week at a public forum on campus. She said Seattle pays a price for its laid-back, outdoors-y lifestyle, and implied that some of our entrepreneurs don’t work as hard as those in the Valley. To which many local observers, including Dave Schappell of TeachStreet, have taken offense (albeit respectfully), arguing that Seattleites work just as hard.
Silicon Valley readers apparently believe they can learn a thing or two from Seattle’s startup efforts. Case in point: Marcelo Calbucci of Sampa and Seattle 2.0 has taken considerable time and effort to blog about lessons learned from Sampa’s demise, and he’s getting a lot of readership in the Bay Area.
—And don’t even get us started on Portland, OR. We Seattleites hate to be ranked behind Portland in anything. Yeah, so they still have a pro basketball team, and a pretty good Japanese garden and bookstore, but that’s about all we are willing to concede, right? So when Entrepreneur magazine ranked Portland as one of the top cities for startups and snubbed Seattle (at least that’s how it was perceived), this meant war. Even though Gerry Langeler of OVP Venture Partners was quoted as saying Portland is “too small to have competing ventures,” and its entrepreneurs tend to lack a “killer instinct.”
TechFlash went on the offensive, calling out Portland for its relative dearth of venture capital and venture-backed public companies. The Oregonian and Silicon Florist came to Portland’s defense; blogger Rick Turoczy pointed out that Portland entrepreneurship is incredibly diverse, with startups not just in software and cleantech, but in food and drink, clothing, books, comics, and other creative arts. In short, Portland is a collaborative, entrepreneur-friendly town, and its culture is separate from Seattle’s. (OK, it’s not quite Red Sox-Yankees blasting each other in the tabloids, but you get the idea.)
—I say we settle all this bad blood with a Battle of the Tech Bands: Seattle Vs. All Comers. Xconomy CEO and editor-in-chief Bob Buderi has already dropped hints that he wants to stage a Boston vs. Seattle band battle. Judging from the quality and tremendous energy of the bands we saw at the Pyramid Alehouse last week, it could shape up to be quite an epic. (See more photos from the Battle and WTIA party here, courtesy of Kevin Pedraja.)
I don’t know about you, but my money’s on this guy (left), Peter Dixon from the metal band Juda’s Wake (representing Microsoft), winning it all… You want a piece of Seattle? Come and get it.