Wow, what a year!
From Amazon drones to Steve Ballmer’s retirement to spectacularly performing IPOs, the tech industry took some wild twists and turns in 2013.
Here’s our look back at the action, with some of our favorite quotes of the year. What are your favorite (or least favorite) moments of the year?
“I know this looks like science fiction — it’s not.”—Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos on 60 Minutes discussing the company’s plans to deliver packages by aerial drones.
“I thought Seattle wanted innovation”—Lyft co-founder John Zimmer commenting after seeing the City of Seattle’s proposed regulations for ride-sharing startups, regulations that could restrict services such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar.
“We’re now a year into it and the question is, will it work or not? [I’m] very concerned it’s not going to work.”—Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who lost his bid for reelection, expressing concerns that the Gigabit Squared project to provide high-speed Internet connectivity in parts of the city may not get of the ground.
“It’s a complex business that the new CEO will have to lead, and they’ll have to drive across fundamental transitions to create new growth and attract and manage top talent. We’ll have to build on our strengths while addressing areas that we’ve got weaknesses or challenges.”—Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates speaking at the annual shareholder meeting in Bellevue about what the company needs in its next CEO.
“I don’t think it changes our focus on the customer or mom being number one.”—Zulily CEO and co-founder Darrell Cavens commenting after the Seattle online retailer’s initial public offering, which valued it at $4.5 billion.
“A forced distribution wasn’t getting at the teamwork principles that we really want to get at related to One Microsoft.”—Microsoft’s HR chief Lisa Brummel on the end of the controversial “stack rank” system for evaluating employees.
“You get some space to take some chances and make some mistakes and get some hits, and still be a little unpredictable.”—Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman commenting on why the online real estate company raised a $50 million VC round, rather than make the IPO leap.
“If it can get to the point where my Dad is like, ‘Hey, tell me about this Bitcoin thing, I’m really intrigued by it’ — then I’ll be like, ‘OK, all right. That’ll be the moment.”—Reddit co-founder and angel investor Alexis Ohanian speaking in Seattle about the rise of Bitcoin.
“I believe we lead the world in IPD right here in the state of Washington. It’s throughout our geekdom — it’s in aerospace, in energy, in transportation, in software, in the gaming industry.”—Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaking at GeekWire Startup Day about a new term he coined called IPD or innovation per dollar.
“Conceptually, the canopy is born out of the idea of an unfolded catalan sphere. When unfolded, the loads of the skin system
can be supported in a much more efficient manner than by using the heavy catalan module used inside the Spheres.”—A design document presented for Amazon.com’s massive, three-part biodome structure just north of downtown, which won approval from Seattle’s Design Review Board.
“When you hear that argument, replace the word ‘shopping,’ and ‘retail,’ with the phrase ‘having sex.’ [Shopping and sex] have a lot of similarities. More and more people are going online to have sex — I mean, sex sites are growing faster than Amazon. And, it’s available 24/7. Now, do we really believe that … you can finish the thought.”—Hointer CEO and former Amazon VP Nadia Shouraboura speaking at the GeekWire Summit about why she doesn’t think physical retail will be going away anytime soon.
“It was a mistake.”—Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates admitting in a talk that the command ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ was a mistake.
“I have not answered that question more than any other question I have not answered in my entire life.”—Venture capitalist and Twitter investor Bill Gurley responding to a question at the GeekWire Summit about when the social media powerhouse might go public. A few hours after Gurley appeared on stage, Twitter said it planned to go public.
“I would guess 70 to 85 percent of VCs add negative value to a startup in advising them. This is why I don’t show up to board meetings, usually.”—Legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla speaking about why he’d prefer to meet with entrepreneurs one-on-one.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time.”—Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announcing his retirement from the company after 33 years.
“There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.”—Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos in a memo to staffers of The Washington Post, which he purchased in a surprise move from the Graham family for $250 million.
“As of Friday Contour is CLOSED. Ya, it shocked all the employees even more. Incredibly hard to just walk away from something you put so much energy into.”—Jacob Hase, the former social media manager at Contour, in a post on his personal Facebook page explaining the troubles at the helmet-mounted camera maker. In November, an investment firm bought the assets of Contour for $1.9 million.
“Today, we are announcing a far-reaching realignment of the company that will enable us to innovate with greater speed, efficiency and capability in a fast changing world.”—Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in the opening line of a memo announcing the company’s “One Microsoft” strategy.
“There’s a lot of talk about how Amazon is a great place to work. They have showers in the basement. You can get your bike serviced while you work. And there’s food trucks! But if you really want to create a positive work environment and generate productivity and employee loyalty, give your employees some job security.”— Former Amazon worker Steve Barker in his “Open Letter to Jeff Bezos.”
“I’m just taking a video.”—Seattle’s “Creepy Cameraman” responds to an individual angered by the surveillance video.
“We’re so grateful to Mr. Doppelt and the team at AMD to be one of the beneficiaries of this unique arrangement.”—FareStart’s Christina Starr commenting on Seattle entrepreneur Adam Doppelt exchanging his Twitter handle — @amd — to computer giant AMD for a $25,000 donation to the Seattle non-profit, one that teaches restaurant job skills and serves meals to the homeless.
“It is extremely rare in the history of business software, going back decades, that a company has grown like Tableau has from bedroom to $100 million while being cash-flow positive and profitable.”—Tableau Software CEO Christian Chabot in an interview with GeekWire shortly after its blockbuster IPO, one which valued the company at nearly $2 billion. It now is valued at $4 billion.
“Market Leader stands alone as a clear leader in the highly fragmented real estate software sector.”—Trulia CEO Pete Flint announcing the online real estate company’s $355 million purchase of Kirkland-based Market Leader.
“Team Xbox is on a new mission. Design and build an all in one system to light up a new generation of games, TV and entertainment.”—Microsoft Interactive Entertainment chief Don Mattrick introducing the new Xbox One in Redmond.
“We have seen a pretty big transition in our audience from desktop to mobile, and we are going to continue to see that for years to come. We need to restructure the company to be set up for that.”—Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh commenting on layoffs at the online comedy network.
“It’s been a long trip. I’m starving. I don’t suppose those barges to the south of me could spare any dirt. You know, just a little snack.”—A Tweet from “Bertha,” the largest boring machine in the world that arrived in Seattle to dig a new two-mile Highway 99 tunnel underneath Seattle. Bertha got stuck on Dec. 6th by a mysterious object.
“Salary: $15,000.”—A line from Bill Gates’ 1974 resume which was displayed at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle.
“Within computer technology, the system of granting patents works reasonably well. The system of getting an inventor paid isn’t that great because historically speaking giant technology companies steal a lot of inventions and don’t pay for them.”—Intellectual Ventures co-founder Nathan Myhrvold in a chat on Slashdot.
“There’s not a goddamned person in the world besides a wireless industry person that would understand why the hell this mess works this way! And the worst fear of the wireless industry is that somebody from outside Oz comes in and starts looking at their industry. … It doesn’t make sense.”—T-Mobile CEO John Legere in one of his frequent expletive-laden tirades about the broken wireless business, an industry he’s trying to fix through the Bellevue company’s “Uncarrier” strategy.
“For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban in advance Google Glasses. And ass kickings will be encouraged for violators.”—A message posted on the Facebook page of The 5 Point, the Seattle dive bar that banned patrons from wearing Google Glass.
“There’s a lot of things like cell phones where we didn’t get out in the lead very early. … We didn’t miss cell phones, but the way we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership. So it’s clearly a mistake.”—Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates responding to a question by Charlie Rose about the performance of Steve Ballmer, just a few months before Ballmer announced his resignation.
“I’m not so scared about consoles, but about Apple. They have device scale and a natural path to the living room.”—Valve co-founder Gabe Newell speaking about the video games business at the DICE 2013 Summit in Las Vegas.
“I think Seattle, frankly, from our own perspective has not been as good of a market as we expected. We are hoping that that will change. But if it changes. It is going to change on the basis of entrepreneurship. Not on the basis of venture capital. I mean, come on. If you are an entrepreneur, do you really deeply care about the zip code of your venture investors? I don’t know why you would.”—Seattle venture capitalist Cameron Myhrvold of Ignition Partners commenting on the lack of quality entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest compared to the Bay Area, setting off a firestorm of commentary.
“I am troubled that a company and a CEO that has for so long enjoyed a prosperous and beneficial working relationship with the State of California and its taxpayers would blatantly engage in activities which are clearly and measurably detrimental to our State’s job and revenue base – not to mention use profits earned through business with our State to appropriate a California-based asset.”—California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg speaking about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s involvement in an effort to purchase the Sacramento Kings, a buyout deal that fell apart in April after the NBA relocation committee rejected a buyout bid.
2013 image via Shutterstock.