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Rebecca Lovell.

As part of Seattle’s effort to help support and expand the city’s startup community, the Office of Economic Development (OED) today named Seattle tech community veteran Rebecca Lovell as the new Startup Liaison for the City of Seattle.

The position was created as part of the Startup Seattle program, originally launched by Red Russak as an independent initiative before it was taken over by the city and championed by former Mayor Mike McGinn in May 2013.

“A key part of supporting Seattle’s growing economy is to make strategic investments in our competitive industry sectors, from technology to manufacturing,” said Mayor Ed Murray in a news release. “Nurturing our startups and helping innovative entrepreneurs expand in our city will allow our technology sector to continue to grow and support more jobs.”

The program, designed to help keep more companies around town by acting as a concierge service for startups that need resources, nearly lost the $151,000 in city funds dedicated to the initiative this past November, when the funding was questioned by some City Council members. However, the City Council voted to move forward with the program after a budget amendment failed to gain majority approval.

An OED spokesperson says $90,000 of the budget will be allocated to Lovell’s salary, plus $31,135 in benefits, with the remaining $26,865 going toward programming.

Lovell, previously GeekWire’s chief business officer, was most recently the interim executive director of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, which was acquired by the Washington Technology Industry Association last month. Among other community roles, she has been an instructor at the University of Washington’s Foster MBA program for six years, and serves as a TechStars mentor.

She was selected based on recommendations of a technology industry task force brought together by the city. In her new role, Lovell will work with the OED and Startup Seattle advisory committee to help lay the groundwork for the Startup Seattle initiative.

“I love Seattle and the startup community, and couldn’t be more excited to be an advocate for our city,” Lovell said in news release. “We have so many key ingredients for success, and I look forward to working with community organizations, schools and universities, and future and current startuppers to ensure Seattle is on the international map of innovation where it belongs.”

The city has laid out a few plans for Startup Seattle, including partnerships with local organizations like and Startup Weekend and a marketing campaign to help attract talent to Seattle from across the country.

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  • BobV

    Is this the same city that just constrained the innovative business models of Uber and Lyft?

    • Mike

      nope, their business model was not really innovative as there have been many car services you can get on demand for many years now, legally.

    • Jamie

      It’s not their business model that Seattle government is trying to quash. It’s their bypassing of taxi regulations. That’s not unique to Seattle. Every city in the country has unbelievably strict taxi regulations.

      Seattle is challenging Uber, but so are Chicago, Boston, New York, San Francisco, etc. Having taxi regulations that are incompatible with Uber is in no way contradictory with wanting to encourage entrepreneurship.

      In fact, a Startup Liaison can only help these car services. Previously, a startup wishing to do something incompatible with old regulations had pretty much no choice but to try it anyway and go to court if it was stopped.

      What would you have them do instead? (Drop all existing regulations on the basis that some are bad for startups?) Even if they want to allow Uber/Lyft, a Startup Liaison is a great first step.

  • Nick

    Best possible choice for the job IMO. Rebecca is sharp, hard working and empathetic and she knows everyone.

  • greggottesman

    Great hire by the City!

  • Kevin

    How is this job worth 90k (plus gov’t benefits) with such a minimal budget for programming? Seems like it should be the other way around (part time role with a big programming budget). If it’s for lobbying companies can do that themselves.

  • Lolllrolll

    I hope Rebecca can push through a cap on the number of startups in the city. That would be a gift to the community. Maybe she can work with Sawant to unionize the entrepreneurs too. They work hard and deserve better wages. I’m looking forward to the changes!

    • Guest

      If there were local startups operating illegally and Rebecca could figure out how to make some of them legal without sanctions, that would indeed be a good thing. I hope she spends 0% of her time helping startups in Silicon Valley come here and hire more people for close to minimum wage.

  • Roy Leban

    Congrats, Rebecca! Great hire by the city.

  • Tara Gowland

    Congrats Rebecca – what an incredible boon to the city!

  • daveparkersea

    Glad there’s an insider… @lovelletters, go make some change!

  • Todd Humphrey

    Seattle needs this role, and Rebecca, in so many ways. What a terrific hire, and great things will follow! #GoRebecca

  • Mark

    She sure seems to hop from job to job.. wonder how long she will last here

    • Chris McCoy

      You seem to need a last name a profile photo.

    • Chris McCoy

      Also wondering when you’ll be a real person with a real last name and a real face.

      Not all of us travel a linear path. Rebecca has taken an entrepreneurial approach to hers.

      Do hope she can carry a bit of an iron fist in this role (honestly and what’s right or just anti passive-aggressiveness or anti-politics).

      • balls187

        Also not mentioned: Rebecca is awesome.

  • James Maiocco

    Superb. A good move to support and foster entrepreneurship in Seattle. Rebecca is a fantastic advocate and well respected. Thank you Mayor Murray!

  • Marc

    Hmms looks like Geekwire is moderating posts that don’t support their view?

    • Chris McCoy

      Yeah, I just got moderated on a rather friendly call-out of a call-out (re-trying).

      Support anti passive aggressiveness Geekwire!

      • Todd Bishop

        Hi Chris and Marc —

        Sometimes random comments get caught up in the Disqus spam filter. I went through and cleared it, so all of your comments should be appearing, but let me know if not and I’ll look again.

        We haven’t moderated anything on this thread. (And in general we take a hands-off approach.)


  • James Maiocco

    Superb. Rebecca is a great advocate for startups and a well-needed voice for entrepreneurship in the City of Seattle. Thank you Mayor Murray!

  • Chris McCoy

    Can’t wait till Rebecca is mayor :)

  • hey let’s cap startups

    City of Seattle credibility on this issue right now = 0. And that includes the mealy-mouthed mayor who was zero help in the Uber fiasco.

  • Sanjay Puri

    The city couldn’t have picked a better advocate for the startup community, congrats Rebecca!

  • Tom

    Great. Another overpaid Director. All of us know that $26K in funding for business startup will go nowhere. This program will be bust in the matter of 2 years. I love the idea of this, but really what a half-hazard way of going about it, and setting it up for failure. Really does it make sense to have a “program” where 82.75% of the budget goes to 1 person?

  • Jenny Chynoweth

    Great hire! Congrats, Rebecca!

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