There’s been a lot of debate and discussion in recent months about Seattle’s technology industry, and how it compares to other spots like Silicon Valley (See: Seattle and Silicon Valley, the inside view from the startup world) and New York City (See: Hey, NYC: There’s a tech hub out here called Seattle).

Now, take a look at this. Richard Florida, a senior editor of The Atlantic and director of the Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, has released his latest index ranking the top tech hubs in the U.S.

Amazingly, Seattle ranks on top of the list, beating out Silicon Valley (ranked second) and San Francisco (ranked third). Interestingly, Portland came in fourth place, ahead of better known tech hubs like Austin (fifth) and Boston (ninth).

And what about NYC? Well, they didn’t make the list.

Now, as we’ve noted before, you have to take these surveys with a grain of salt. (Some readers in the comments of the blog post announcing the index are taking issue with the fact that New Hampshire, for example, would rank ahead of NYC). The ranking from the Martin Prosperity Institute weighs heavily on patents, measuring patents per capita and average annual patent growth. (Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon helped here for sure, but I wonder what role patent holding firm Intellectual Ventures played?)

In addition to patents, the researchers also investigated concentration of high-tech companies, using the Milken Institute’s Tech-Pole Index. From what I can tell, the study did not look at venture capital investments, which in recent quarters (though not the current one) has been weaker in the Seattle area.

Nonetheless, this is a report that many in the Seattle area likely will be touting, applauding and shouting from the rooftops. After all, asked last month what the biggest weakness Seattle faces as a tech community, Madrona Venture Group’s Matt McIlwain noted that it was lack of awareness of the awesome stuff going on in the Northwest.

“People don’t fully appreciate how good the talent and early-stage companies are, and it is only getting better because we are right at the intersection of so many important trends,” he said. “Our wonderful Pacific Northwest culture of humility and understatement works a little bit against us.”

Here’s more from Florida’s analysis:

Technology is the first of my 3Ts of economic development, the other two being Talent and Tolerance. Each one on its own is a necessary but insufficient condition for growth. For real innovation and sustained economic growth, a community must offer all three. That means that some cities and metros may still fail to grow at a high rate, despite their deep reservoirs of technology and world-class universities, if they lag behind on the other two T’s – if they are exporting talent or are relatively closed to outsiders.  Conversely, the interactive effect of the 3T’s helps explain why some cities and metros may fail to grow at a substantial rate, even though they are lifestyle meccas: they lack the required technology base.

At the end of the day, the most successful cities and metros are more than just technology leaders; they put all of the 3T’s together.

Previously on GeekWireThe top 25 startup hubs in the world: Seattle ranks 13th

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  • Craig Olson

    I’m a Seattle native and I heard again the other day when you say “Washington” people on the east coast equate that to DC most of the time. I guess if you’ve never been here you’d think we still ride horses to work : )

  • Ben Mullins

    There’s a lot of hiring going on out here as well, into compelling technology companies of all stages.

    Of course, per the first post, relocation will be provided by wagon train…

    If you are looking to relocate to a progressive city, an outdoor mecca and exceptional technology hub, get in touch via LinkedIn.

    Seattle-based career consultant and placement professional assisting talented people find exceptional opportunities.

  • algard

    No grains of salt taken. This is why I moved up here from the Bay Area in the first frickin’ place. Like you said John, “applauding and shouting from the rooftops.” Go Seattle!

  • Oli

    I’m loving the tech scene in Austin, fast paced, with warm weather ;)

  • Joshua Camp

    I have to call this article out for ignoring the trends and looking at static data exclusively. We presented on this subject in Nashville about 6 weeks ago and our data did’t even put Seattle in the top 25 – largely because of the lack of VC and the downward hiring trend. Technology changes fast and I’d argue that looking at legacy data like patents filed and current tech-related employment is EXTREMELY short-sighted. I want to be where those companies are moving to or where they are starting, not where they are starting to die…

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment Joshua. There has been a downward VC trend in Seattle in recent quarters, though the 2nd quarter is going to be pretty big based on some huge financing rounds.

      However, not sure where you are getting the data on a “downward hiring trend.” That counters almost everything we’ve been reporting on in recent months, including news that Amazon has 1,000 open positions in the Seattle area. Other companies such as Tableau, Zillow, SEOMoz and others are actively hiring.

      Also, not sure companies are dying in Seattle. There’s certainly a healthy startup ecosystem here, not to mention the fact that Facebook, The Climate Corp., Zynga, Splunk, etc. are all establishing engineering centers here in order to attract talent. (Full list here:


  • subduedjoy

    Clearly, you do not live in Silicon Valley, or you would know that Silicon Valley is bigger than the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area. Since Silicon Valley is not equaled to the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area, you cannot conclude that Seatle’s ranking is greater than Silicon Valley’s ranking based on the fact that Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area’s ranking is greater than San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area’s.

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