Farewell, Seattle: A Changing of the Xconomy Guard, and a New Beginning
For my last official post as Editor of Xconomy Seattle, let me tell you a quick story.
It was a warm, cloudy day in June 2008. Two guys walked into an old office on First Hill, but only one guy walked out. That was me. I took the stairs. The other guy was the Qwest cable guy. He took the elevator, and got stuck between the basement and the first floor for 40 minutes before we could extricate him with the help of a repairman.
Our phones and Internet service at Xconomy Seattle didn’t get turned on that day—or the next, as I recall. It was kind of a drag, given that we are an online media startup. So Luke and I improvised a lot, working from home (or wherever we could pick up Wi-Fi) in those early days.
We’ve come a long way in two years. OK, maybe not in terms of our office, which could still be described charitably as “startup space.” But in terms of our editorial content, our events, our readership, our sponsorships, and especially our relationships with people in the innovation community, we have created something we think is pretty special. That’s why today’s news from Xconomy warrants a personal note from me to our readers.
This morning, Xconomy announced our expansion to San Francisco—the fifth city in our growing network of innovation clusters around the country. As part of this expansion, Xconomy’s ace technology reporter in Boston, Wade Roush, is moving to San Francisco to be our Editor there. And my big news is, I am moving back East next month to become Editor of Xconomy Boston. It’s a great opportunity for me. But—and this is important—I plan to keep a strong hand in our Seattle and West Coast coverage by taking on an additional role as National IT Editor of Xconomy. That means I will continue to write stories about technology startups, financing strategies, and big-company research and innovation in Seattle and elsewhere—all from a national perspective.
I will also be an advisor to our latest addition to the Xconomy Seattle team—Thea Chard, our new Assistant Editor, who is my successor on the tech side here. We’ll have much more to say about Thea (pronounced TAY-uh) once she gets started next week. Meanwhile, my comrade-in-arms Luke, who first moved to Seattle in 2000 as a reporter at The Seattle Times, has been promoted to Editor of Xconomy Seattle. He will oversee our Northwest coverage, in addition to his considerable responsibilities as National Biotechnology Editor (which include leading our life sciences coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area).
Those who know me understand that I rarely like being the center of attention. So I don’t want today’s news to be about me—and it isn’t. It’s about the team. I can only begin to tell you how excited we are at Xconomy to be making this nationwide push to redefine technology and innovation journalism. My move back to Boston is part of this push. And, of course, I have roots in Boston, having lived there for 15+ years before coming to Seattle two years ago. So I do have some personal and family reasons for the move.
But it’s also really hard to pick up and leave town just when I’m getting to know lots of amazing people in the Seattle community, and starting to make some real friends. Let’s face it: this sort of thing takes time. There is something called the Seattle Freeze; this town isn’t always the most welcoming place for a newcomer, let alone a new beat reporter for a new publication. But I’ve learned a few things in my time here. One, the business community respects and rewards hard-working journalists who genuinely seek to understand their subjects and have integrity. Two, this community is truly special. It’s a tight-knit place, with a very strong cluster of talent in software, mobile, biotech, and, increasingly, cleantech. Unlike, say, New York (or even Boston), where people come and go all the time, it’s incredibly important here to build lasting personal relationships.
And I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of my job. I know who our supporters are here, and I will work extra hard to keep my Seattle connections strong. Being a far-flung national network of local sites, we already know something about forming strong relationships face to face, keeping them fresh through phone calls, e-mails, and occasional visits, and cross-pollinating ideas from different cities. (Also, I’m not actually moving until July, so I intend to get in as much happy hour mileage as possible before then.)
I am confident that the best is yet to come from the Seattle innovation community. Although the recession hit hard a few months after I arrived, things have already turned for the better in the Seattle tech scene. Back in June 2008, there was no TechStars here, no Founder’s Co-op, no Founder Institute, no FounderDating, no RevenueLoan, no UW Center for Commercialization—not to mention no Seattle 2.0, no TechFlash, and no Xconomy to report on all those developments (no local TechCrunch representation either). On the big company front, Amazon has gotten noticeably stronger, Microsoft continues to reinvent itself, Google keeps growing here, RealNetworks got a new boss, Facebook has a new Seattle office, and Twitter bought its first Seattle company (Cloudhopper).
So, in the end, this isn’t really farewell. It’s hello to a fresh new perspective for Xconomy Seattle from Thea and Luke, and a new perspective from me on how Seattle fits into the national technology picture. While I will be filing stories from the other side of the country, I certainly won’t forget the people here—especially those who have gone out of their way to help us, both personally and professionally. To all of our readers and supporters, I want to say thank you for an amazing couple of years. Now let’s keep it going.