This past week, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at the big Rotary Club of Seattle, talking about the Pacific Northwest tech economy with a group of leading investors and entrepreneurs.
We talked about a wide range of issues — hiring, education, the tech investment climate, key startups to watch, and the direction of the economy. But I also threw in some lightning round questions, and one of them brought out an interesting divide in the panelists’ opinions of two Seattle-area tech giants.
The question, in essence: Let’s say you’ve got $100 to invest, and you were forced to choose between Amazon and Microsoft stock. Which would you choose?
Of course, the answer depends not just on your feelings about each company’s long-term prospects, but also on your feelings about each company’s current market value relative to those long-term prospects.
Here are the answers from panelists Jeremy Jaech of SNUPI, Sarah Bird of Moz, Michael Schutzler of the WTIA and Julie Sandler of Madrona (a former member of the Amazon Kindle team).
Jeremy Jaech: I’d put it into Microsoft. … Microsoft is in a really good position with regards to enterprise software and corporate in-house developers. I think that’s a very difficult position for them to be dislodged from over time. I think they’re going to have a nice, steady run for a long time. Of course I think Amazon is a great company, too. It’s a very tough question.
Julie Sandler: I’ve got to be loyal to my former employer. I am long on Amazon. A couple of drivers of that would be the Amazon Web Services business, which is seeing explosive growth, year over year. That will, in my opinion, continue. Also what they’re doing with digital products is extremely compelling. With tablets and phones and television. They’re collecting so much data about you. They’re going to know your fears, your wishes, your hopes, and they’re going to make you buy things you didn’t know you need. I’m very long on Amazon.
Michael Schutzler: Alright, so I’d get fired from the University of Washington if I don’t answer this correctly. I teach finance. The correct answer is, you’re giving me $100, right, and it’s not a $100 bill? I’m going to put $50 in Microsoft and $50 in Amazon.
Sarah Bird: I’m Amazon because that already happens. If you look at what we spend at Moz, who we’re giving money to, and personally, who I give money to, it’s Amazon all the way. And it’s growing. Their share of my wallet, it’s growing. It’s embarrassing. I believe in it. Amazon all the way.
The video below, courtesy of the Seattle Rotary, should start at 17:30, when this question was asked. You can also watch the whole video to listen to the entire discussion, and weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments below.