Stanford's lovely main campus

Dear Stanford,

First, we want to express our deepest sympathies about the loss in the Fiesta Bowl last night. It was a heartbreaking overtime defeat, and we’d like you to know that we were pulling for our Pac-12 friends. (If you’re familiar with NBA history, you can imagine we’re not big fans of Oklahoma in these parts).

Maybe this isn’t the best time to write. But we thought that we could start out the new year with a discussion, a chat that we think could be more exciting than any gridiron contest.

Here’s what we’d like to propose: Come to Seattle. Build your new campus here.

We know what you’re probably thinking: “Oh, the rain.”

But — as I am sure your research-minded scientists already know — it actually rains more in New York City.

Speaking of New York, sorry about that loss, too. The idea of building a world-class $2.5 billion applied sciences and engineering facility in the heart of the Big Apple was bold, no matter what the critics say. We agree that it was worth the effort, even though Cornell eventually got the nod.

But, as in every loss, new opportunities arise.

And that’s where we think we could work together, bringing together the best of our two worlds. New York may be the finance and media capital of the globe, but East Coasters just view the world differently than we do.

While we know that the parting was difficult, we think it’s best for both of you that it didn’t work out.

When it comes to the people who actually build stuff (engineers, computer scientists, entrepreneurs, developers, etc.) you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place outside of Palo Alto than Seattle.

Innovation runs deep in our veins. We’ve transformed industries — from aerospace to software to mobile to retail.  And many of your graduates have helped make these formative changes right here, working as venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, attorneys and technology executives.

Even one of your best known spin-outs — Google — has found it worthwhile to have dual West Coast locations in Seattle and Silicon Valley. And a number of other Silicon Valley stalwarts are following in their trailblazing path.

Other Stanford progeny actually prefer it here.

There’s also money, maybe not as much as New York. But after all, your new law school and computer science building came courtesy of a couple Microsofties.

We agree that you “don’t make progress by standing still.” We’re ready to move. And we think we have a lot to offer.

One thing we don’t have, however, is a world-class private research university. That’s where you come in. Yes, it might be a Hail Mary at this point in the game.  But we’re hoping for better luck than you had last night.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.



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  • Isaac Alexander

    Just wanted to ask some questions.
    1. Who is the point person(s) in Seattle for encouraging potential research universities in setting up in the Puget Sound region?
    2. Will we just ask Stanford to set up shop, or will we ask other research universities to come to the area as well and set up a “research cluster”?
    3. What specific “research” do we hope that these universities to teach? What degrees will be the focus?

  • Rob Hammond

    Is the potential of UW really exhausted?  What about PNNL?

    • johnhcook

      I don’t think so, not at all. In fact, I am working on another piece related to the UW. There’s some good stuff happening there for sure, and the UW needs to be supported. 

      That said, I think the region would benefit from having a private research university “competing” against the UW, and churning out more engineers and scientists.

      • Rob Hammond

        I’m not sure that “competing” is the right description but, I do agree another top-notch school is always a good thing.  As well, private research institutes aren’t all that private…The EECS department at the private university I attended for my undergraduate studies might as well have been a part of the Department of Defense.

  • davidds  Stanford has some awesome online courses in computer science and entrepreneurship that start this month.  The lectures are being held in real time and posted for later viewing online – ie this isn’t a static set of videos being reposted but a real course with live discussion groups. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Seattle area registrations could surface the need for a Standford North campus. 

  • Ignatz Ratzkewatzke


  • Bigyan Rajbhandari

    Could not agree more! Seattle is a great place to set up shop. We really have a good and rich mix of engineers, scientist and entrepreneurs than anywhere else. 

    Someone from Seattle needs to follow up on this. One of the main reasons Seattle hardly attracts more bright students from outside is lack of well known universities. 

  • Joe Stansell

    You’d think that someone over at the Gates Foundation would be looking long and hard about attracting (or starting) another research university in our area.  

  • Janis Machala

    Let’s put a world class recruiting effort together around this. The time is right. Pete Higgins has been a trustee at Stanford. Jon Staenberg has been active with Stanfird as an alumni. I suspect if we dig into this we will find a cadre of outstanding champions for Seattle married to Stanford who care about both. I completely agree that a private research university would be an outstanding and impactful addition to the Seattle ecosystem. Maybe The Technology Alliance could wrap its resources around a project such as this?

  • clive boulton

    Interesting Seattle/PNNL connections through Stanford spin out companies like
    Tableau Software via Stanford Prof Pat Hanrahan (Oscar win for RenderMan). X2IMPACT and Stanford Football seem well connected (Jim Mora, CMO). Also many Stanford students are spending time studying in Asia. China seems to hold Stanford campus education in highest regard. Follows the SFDU campus expansion occurs in China. (just a swag).   

  • Steveg

    Talk to Jeff Marcell at enterpriseSeattle – if you want a point person/organization that could put something like that together, you couldn’t do better.

  • Clise

    Talk to the Clise family, whose plans for a 13-acre development “akin to Rockefeller Center” fell through in the bad economy:

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