Inside Zynga's new Pioneer Square office

Silicon Valley tech giants have been flocking to Seattle in recent for months, with companies such as Facebook, Salesforce.com and Zynga choosing the region for new engineering centers. Now, the trend is getting some national attention with Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal writing that “top tech workers in the Seattle area are seeing Bay Area Web companies come to them.”

We’ve certainly been watching the trend develop with great interest, including the arrival of social gaming powerhouse Zynga in April.

Wingfield writes:

In the past several years, as recruiting top-flight engineers in Silicon Valley has become even more cutthroat because of the boom in Web start-ups, tech companies have begun looking for engineers anywhere they can find them. Seattle is one such engineering hotbed because of companies like Microsoft and Amazon, along with the city’s University of Washington.

The Journal piece is certainly high-profile validation of Seattle’s tech community. And the region certainly could use a little good news, since Seattle hasn’t seen as many high-profile successes as Silicon Valley in recent years. Sure, Amazon.com has performed well, and continues to hire. But the region’s top tech employer, Microsoft, has been stuck in neutral.

The startup community also got a slap across the face last week when Polaris Venture Partners closed its Seattle office , a move which sparked some outrage since one of partners reportedly said that the market “never developed.”

But the arrival of Google — which set up operations in the Seattle area in 2004 and now employs more than 800 people here — and others certainly is creating a new dynamic to the tech industry in Seattle.

And, despite their heft, prestige and big balance sheets, the companies are not always welcomed here. I’ve heard from a few startup CEOs who said the likes of Facebook, Google, Zynga and others makes tech recruiting in Seattle that much harder.

Comments

  • Firestorm

    Is there a particular reason you seem to hate Seattle more than the WSJ? That WSJ piece feels like they have an office in South Lake Union, and you’re writing the story from the Mission District.

    • johnhcook

      I don’t hate Seattle — not at all. I want to see the region become a top-tier technology hub. I think we are very close to reaching that goal, and the fact that Zynga, Salesforce, Hulu, Google, Facebook, etc. are choosing the region speaks volumes. 

      But we shouldn’t be complacent. And we shouldn’t rely on branch offices from Silicon Valley companies for our success. 

      We need a new crop of homegrown technology success stories on the scale of Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, F5 and Isilon. It has been a while for one of those style of companies to emerge. 

      I am not sure pointing that out equates to me “hating” Seattle. I’d counter it is the exact opposite. 

      • http://blog.CascadeSoft.net @CascadeRam

        I agree with what you’ve said, but I’d go one step further.

        Sometimes, it seems like GeekWire is a cheerleader for the Seattle startup community and (as someone in that community), it does feel good.

        However, there are other times when I feel that GeekWire shouldn’t see itself as a cheerleader. It seems like GeekWire would be more valuable (to readers) as an an objective news site that asks tough questions (even at the risk of alienating some supporters) and reports good news and bad news (without a bias for good news)

        I’m curious to know if you think that being a cheerleader for Seattle area startups is one of the roles that GeekWire should play.

        • johnhcook

          It certainly is a balance. First and foremost we are journalists telling the important stories of this region, hopefully selecting the most relevant topics of the day. I like to say that we tell stories of the good, the bad and the ugly.

          Sometimes there’s more good, other times more bad an on occasion the ugly. We will cover all of those, and mix in a little offbeat fun along the way too. We’re not afraid of asking the tough questions. Never have been, and will continue to do so. That’s part of what this journalism thing is about. You can count on that here at GeekWire, and if you ever feel like we are missing the mark (and I know many of you feel that way sometimes) I am sure you and others will let us know.Now, all of that said, I am not a reporter who actually likes when bad things happen (people go to jail, cut staff, sue rivals, etc.).   So, would I rather have stories to tell of inspirational comebacks, blockbuster IPOs and huge successes for the region? Sure. I would. There are also times when I think it is appropriate to say when something good has happened in the region (just as I do when something bad happens).Does that make me a cheerleader, maybe to some degree.  But I think you have seen media entities take this role throughout their histories. The most important thing for us at the end of the day is that readers respect what we do, and turn to GeekWire’s coverage for trusted news, insight and analysis. Todd Bishop and I have been doing this a long time (more than 20 years combined) and hopefully we’ve earned your trust. We love what we do, and are pouring every ounce into GeekWire as we build a new type of news community. Thanks for your support, and for coming along for the ride. Sorry for the long ramble, but this stuff gets me pumped up. Onward!  

          • Anonymous

            Just to add to what John is saying, another way to put it is that we practice tough love. We want the Seattle tech community to do better, but the only way that happens is by being frank and candid about where it stands. That’s a big part of our role. Our intent is to report the facts — good, bad and in between — as we see them. 

        • johnhcook

          It certainly is a balance. First and foremost we are journalists telling the important stories of this region, hopefully selecting the most relevant topics of the day. I like to say that we tell stories of the good, the bad and the ugly.

          Sometimes there’s more good, other times more bad an on occasion the ugly. We will cover all of those, and mix in a little offbeat fun along the way too. We’re not afraid of asking the tough questions. Never have been, and will continue to do so. That’s part of what this journalism thing is about. You can count on that here at GeekWire, and if you ever feel like we are missing the mark (and I know many of you feel that way sometimes) I am sure you and others will let us know.Now, all of that said, I am not a reporter who actually likes when bad things happen (people go to jail, cut staff, sue rivals, etc.).   So, would I rather have stories to tell of inspirational comebacks, blockbuster IPOs and huge successes for the region? Sure. I would. There are also times when I think it is appropriate to say when something good has happened in the region (just as I do when something bad happens).Does that make me a cheerleader, maybe to some degree.  But I think you have seen media entities take this role throughout their histories. The most important thing for us at the end of the day is that readers respect what we do, and turn to GeekWire’s coverage for trusted news, insight and analysis. Todd Bishop and I have been doing this a long time (more than 20 years combined) and hopefully we’ve earned your trust. We love what we do, and are pouring every ounce into GeekWire as we build a new type of news community. Thanks for your support, and for coming along for the ride. Sorry for the long ramble, but this stuff gets me pumped up. Onward!  

        • johnhcook

          It certainly is a balance. First and foremost we are journalists telling the important stories of this region, hopefully selecting the most relevant topics of the day. I like to say that we tell stories of the good, the bad and the ugly.

          Sometimes there’s more good, other times more bad an on occasion the ugly. We will cover all of those, and mix in a little offbeat fun along the way too. We’re not afraid of asking the tough questions. Never have been, and will continue to do so. That’s part of what this journalism thing is about. You can count on that here at GeekWire, and if you ever feel like we are missing the mark (and I know many of you feel that way sometimes) I am sure you and others will let us know.Now, all of that said, I am not a reporter who actually likes when bad things happen (people go to jail, cut staff, sue rivals, etc.).   So, would I rather have stories to tell of inspirational comebacks, blockbuster IPOs and huge successes for the region? Sure. I would. There are also times when I think it is appropriate to say when something good has happened in the region (just as I do when something bad happens).Does that make me a cheerleader, maybe to some degree.  But I think you have seen media entities take this role throughout their histories. The most important thing for us at the end of the day is that readers respect what we do, and turn to GeekWire’s coverage for trusted news, insight and analysis. Todd Bishop and I have been doing this a long time (more than 20 years combined) and hopefully we’ve earned your trust. We love what we do, and are pouring every ounce into GeekWire as we build a new type of news community. Thanks for your support, and for coming along for the ride. Sorry for the long ramble, but this stuff gets me pumped up. Onward!  

        • johnhcook

          It certainly is a balance. First and foremost we are journalists telling the important stories of this region, hopefully selecting the most relevant topics of the day. I like to say that we tell stories of the good, the bad and the ugly.

          Sometimes there’s more good, other times more bad an on occasion the ugly. We will cover all of those, and mix in a little offbeat fun along the way too. We’re not afraid of asking the tough questions. Never have been, and will continue to do so. That’s part of what this journalism thing is about. You can count on that here at GeekWire, and if you ever feel like we are missing the mark (and I know many of you feel that way sometimes) I am sure you and others will let us know.Now, all of that said, I am not a reporter who actually likes when bad things happen (people go to jail, cut staff, sue rivals, etc.).   So, would I rather have stories to tell of inspirational comebacks, blockbuster IPOs and huge successes for the region? Sure. I would. There are also times when I think it is appropriate to say when something good has happened in the region (just as I do when something bad happens).Does that make me a cheerleader, maybe to some degree.  But I think you have seen media entities take this role throughout their histories. The most important thing for us at the end of the day is that readers respect what we do, and turn to GeekWire’s coverage for trusted news, insight and analysis. Todd Bishop and I have been doing this a long time (more than 20 years combined) and hopefully we’ve earned your trust. We love what we do, and are pouring every ounce into GeekWire as we build a new type of news community. Thanks for your support, and for coming along for the ride. Sorry for the long ramble, but this stuff gets me pumped up. Onward!  

        • johnhcook

          It certainly is a balance. First and foremost we are journalists telling the important stories of this region, hopefully selecting the most relevant topics of the day. I like to say that we tell stories of the good, the bad and the ugly.

          Sometimes there’s more good, other times more bad an on occasion the ugly. We will cover all of those, and mix in a little offbeat fun along the way too. We’re not afraid of asking the tough questions. Never have been, and will continue to do so. That’s part of what this journalism thing is about. You can count on that here at GeekWire, and if you ever feel like we are missing the mark (and I know many of you feel that way sometimes) I am sure you and others will let us know.Now, all of that said, I am not a reporter who actually likes when bad things happen (people go to jail, cut staff, sue rivals, etc.).   So, would I rather have stories to tell of inspirational comebacks, blockbuster IPOs and huge successes for the region? Sure. I would. There are also times when I think it is appropriate to say when something good has happened in the region (just as I do when something bad happens).Does that make me a cheerleader, maybe to some degree.  But I think you have seen media entities take this role throughout their histories. The most important thing for us at the end of the day is that readers respect what we do, and turn to GeekWire’s coverage for trusted news, insight and analysis. Todd Bishop and I have been doing this a long time (more than 20 years combined) and hopefully we’ve earned your trust. We love what we do, and are pouring every ounce into GeekWire as we build a new type of news community. Thanks for your support, and for coming along for the ride. Sorry for the long ramble, but this stuff gets me pumped up. Onward!  

    • http://www.jrotech.com/ Jeff Rodenburg

      I didn’t get that from the WSJ article at all, and certainly don’t interpret any dislike from John’s take either. I personally prefer John’s approach to his support for Seattle — he’s not sugar-coating his opinion, and doesn’t want Seattle to play younger sibling that gets Bay Area hand-me-downs.  Nothing wrong with that at all.

  • http://www.wac6.typepad.com William Carleton

    Polaris closing its Seattle office says volumes about Polaris and not much about Seattle.  Also, I know the tax initiative last year was a spectacular failure, but partisans (myself included) for WA State have to do better with convincing the citizenry that public education at all levels has to improve. It’s not just a matter of supplying the talent that emerging companies need but also a quality of life issue for younger people here as they establish themselves and want the best for their own kids. 

    • Guest

      Improving my children’s education is not a function of asking some Washingtonians to pay for it. I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

      Entrusting a government entity to educate your children is as futile as is entrusting one to clear snow off your streets or to sell you alcohol. Do it yourself, with your hard-earned money, and realise benefits.

      • http://www.wac6.typepad.com William Carleton

        Wow! That is exactly the kind of Neanderthal thinking that, if it got too widespread, will usher in the rapid decline of America. Talk about the surest way to defeat meritocracy. All children should have a shot at a good education and all society benefits when merit trumps who your parents happen to be. What is your name, by the way, and why do you comment anonymously? 

        • Guest

          Call me George, William. My children will grow to be better-educated, more fit, and more worldly than their competition. The working world is a game, William, and my family play to win.

          • JH

            George- so what about all the kids with crappy parents? Or parents that are barely scraping by?  Do you think there should be equal opportunity for all kids coming out of high school with decent grades, or just those with uber parents like you? 

          • Guest

            Those parents who want their children to succeed will take a more active role in their children’s education than simply escorting them to a bus stop every morning. 

            Parents of successful children will insist on only the best teachers, not tenured teachers incapable of being fired for their poor performance.

            Parents of successful children will question how the lessons and curricula their children take will prepare them for a successful future, and they will not permit an “educator” to simply run the clock to keep kids busy for a few hours a day.

            You’ll note that none of this has to do with money, James. This has to do with accountability and oversight, two concepts that the American public school system has simply discarded in favor of templated lesson plans and complacency.

    • Guest

      Improving my children’s education is not a function of asking some Washingtonians to pay for it. I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

      Entrusting a government entity to educate your children is as futile as is entrusting one to clear snow off your streets or to sell you alcohol. Do it yourself, with your hard-earned money, and realise benefits.

    • johnhcook

      There is probably some truth to that comment about Polaris. They could have invested in Isilon or Amazon or F5 or a number of other recent successes. They may have missed all of the great deals here. My point, and one I may pursue in a follow-up post, is that there just haven’t been enough of those big deals for Polaris or other VCs to pursue here in recent years. 

      Ask the other VCs in town, and they’ll tell you the same thing. The region has lacked for that next crop of big-time tech companies, and we’ve lost some high-profile chances. (Remember that Flexcar actually was based in Seattle before being sold to Zipcar).  

      There are some companies that may break out still, companies like Tableau, Apptio, Redfin and Zulily. Zillow may get there too, but at $31 million in annual revenue (especially when compared to Groupon’s $644M in first quarter revenue) it seems like they have a lot of work to do.

      http://www.geekwire.com/2011/fast-growing-unprofitable-groupon-files-750m-ipo

      If LinkedIn, Facebook, Groupon and Zynga had started here and received capital from local VC firms, do you think Polaris (even if they had failed to get into those deals) still would have left? Maybe. But maybe not. (I’ve got an email into Polaris to talk to them about all of this. I’ll let you know if I hear back.).

  • Victor

    Seattle feels a lot like Bangalore, with cleaner running water and steady electricity. It has fallen from the center of the tech universe in the 1990s to a glorified outsource center for the Bay area companies. Much of this I blame on the large pool of brainwashed current and ex-Microsofties, with their defensive and closed-mindedness. All one has to do is read the comments section here, Techflash or Seattletimes.com with any story relating to Microsoft and get what I am talking about. 

    I see only two ways for Seattle startup scene to change in a substantive way, massive greed or massive fear. We won’t see massive greed unless we get the late 90s style bubble, and we won’t see massive fear unless Microsoft collapses, neither seems likely in the short term.

  • Dan Levitan

    John- Cheer on! It’s great for the region.

  • http://www.cypressconsulting.net Nate @ Cypress

    I can speak directly to how hard recruiting top technical talent has become in Seattle recently. We have a number of development positions open at Cypress, and it’s been very difficult to hire, particularly if you need to add to the team quickly.

  • http://www.cypressconsulting.net Nate @ Cypress

    I can speak directly to how hard recruiting top technical talent has become in Seattle recently. We have a number of development positions open at Cypress, and it’s been very difficult to hire, particularly if you need to add to the team quickly.

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.
Sr. Product ManagerJulep Beauty, Inc.
Lead EngineerWiserCare Inc