nextsiliconvallesWell, here we go again. Another debate on how Seattle stacks up against Silicon Valley — this time from the good folks across the pond at the BBC.

We put a bit of a moratorium on the Silicon Valley vs. Seattle issue here at GeekWire after the debate kept raging, though we do occasionally still like to remind folks that some pretty big tech companies are located here. (See: Hey everyone, Jeff Bezos lives in Seattle and Amazon is not a ‘Silicon Valley’ company).

In an ongoing series titled “The Next Silicon Valleys,” the BBC talks to a cast of characters from the Seattle tech ecosystem, including Cheezburger co-founder Emily Huh; angel investor Chris DeVore and DigiPen founder Claude Comair. GeekWire’s Todd Bishop even makes an appearance, talking about why companies are drawn to the region’s tech talent and how Seattle doesn’t have the cutthroat culture of the Valley.

The BBC calls Seattle a “vibrant and laid-back city” that’s a strategic seaport with strong ties to Asia, making the prerequisite shots of the Space Needle and the Monorail and noting the coffee houses and cloudy skies. But it also notes how “AmazonTown” is transforming the region, and relates how Microsoft has been a “backbone” for the tech industry for a number of years.

Those are good points, some of which were echoed in the GeekWire podcast this past weekend by Madrona Venture Group’s Matt McIlwain who noted that two of the top tech companies in the world by market value are headquartered in Seattle. (Amazon recently slipped behind Facebook in market value, so the list goes like this: Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook and Amazon).

The report does miss the mark on a couple things, noting a mysterious river one must cross to get between Seattle and the Eastside. (Last we checked, that was a pretty big lake). It also noted that Google recently set up shop in Seattle, though it has been operating in the region for more than a decade.

Nonetheless, it is pretty cool to see the BBC’s Richard Taylor touring around the city’s startup community, which he properly notes is still trying to gather its feet.

Chris DeVore of Founder’s Co-op offers the most prescient analysis on that topic. “You need to have a culture where instead of people thinking when they get out of college that ‘I am going to go get a job at a big company,’ the instinct has to be: ‘I am going to build a big company.'” That’s an advantage Silicon Valley has over Seattle, he says.

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  • Guest

    Emily Huh is a worthless piece of poop on her worthless husband’s shoe. Why in the world would they talk with her? Can anyone name one single thing she has accomplished?

  • SeattleMike5

    I don’t know if I’d consider Seattle “laid back” these days. Sound like another media myth, like the flying fish at Pike Place, the “Seattle Freeze” and the tired old “only tourists use umbrellas” line.

    • Seattle Emigre

      I concur. As someone who grew up in Seattle and left, Seattle hasn’t been laid back since the early 80s, and now not so much reflects a Seattle Freeze as Seattle Snark: The place became harsh and self important, and the people distant. (If you want to get sense of how people related to each other before then watch the movie version of Snow on Cedars. Even though it was set in the 40s that Scandinavian worldview carried through until the late 70s.)

      But Seattle could very well complement/supplant/replace Silicon Valley. In a land without shadows, due to an unrelenting overcast, people there embrace the Life of the Mind. They can sit in the midst of a crowd, immersed in their own thoughts for hours, while those surrounding them respect their self imposed aloneness. Deep thought is a profound source of innovation. Maybe that is what mean by the Seattle Freeze? I actually kind of miss it. But not the never ending gray, particularly after the first 100 days when it’s not even January yet. You need to fly out in February if you can afford to, or plant crocuses if you cannot. Those who live there will understand.

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