You may have heard of the “Seattle Freeze.” It’s the notion that those from the Emerald City are less friendly to strangers, particularly to those from another state.
Whether or not it’s actually true is up for debate. But now there’s data from a networking app proving that the freeze may be a legitimate phenomenon.
Weave is an app that allows users to swipe through cards of nearby people that they could potentially meet up with. If two people happen to swipe “yes” with each other, Weave opens up a conversation channel between them to help initiate an in-person conversation. It’s like Tinder, but for networking instead of just dating.
Weave, which raised $630,000 in seed funding led by Vulcan Capital last month, provided GeekWire with some interesting back-end data comparing users from Seattle and San Francisco:
- Seattleites swipe yes (invitation to meet) once for every 10 “no’s.” Compare that to San Francisco and New York, where the yes:no ratio is 1:5.
- The average San Francisco user matches with twice as many people as a Seattle user.
- Seattle has 10 percent more “lurkers” than San Francisco, and 5 percent more lurkers than New York (Lurkers are people who use the app, but only swipe no on people).
Weave founder Brian Ma, who previously co-founded Decide.com, told us that the app is seeing the same level of engagement from users in Seattle and San Francisco.
“But people in Seattle just tend to be less open to meetings,” Ma noted.
Ma, who recently moved to the Bay Area after living in Seattle for 20 years, said the data definitely proves that the “Seattle Freeze” is real. But he doesn’t necessarily think that Seattleites are unfriendly.
“It’s more that people in San Francisco and New York City have a mentality that’s all about networking, all about working, and all about discovering new opportunities,” Ma explained. “Seattle is this smaller, nascent tech community that’s still growing into something like Silicon Valley, but it’s not quite there yet.”
As someone who graduated from the University of Washington, worked at Seattle-based companies like Microsoft and Zillow, and became entrenched in the startup community here, Ma said he’s a huge supporter of Seattle becoming a giant tech center for companies big and small.
Yet his experience living in San Francisco and working with Weave has provided some insight into what qualities Seattleites should have if the city really wants to become a global tech hub.
“When I moved here, one of the biggest culture shocks was seeing how every person is open to networking, to talking about their ideas,” Ma said. “People [in Seattle] need to realize that networking and sharing ideas is what you should be doing. It’s necessary for a giant innovation economy.”
Ma started Weave because he was frustrated with how difficult it was to meet people in the Seattle startup community. “There was a giant discoverability problem,” he says. The original idea actually came from Zillow Digs, which had a “hot or not” type of app for houses. Once he saw how quickly Tinder caught on with users, Ma knew that Weave could work for entrepreneurs and other professionals that wanted an easy way to link up.
In less than a year after Weave launched, the app is now helping set up an average of 100 in-person meetings per day. Ma said that there are two primary reasons for the early traction: Networking has been “traditionally archaic,” and having a strong network is more important than ever.
“People are making job changes five or six times in their career now, and each time you make a job change you need a new network of people who will buy your product, support and mentor you, etc.,” he said. “So your network today has become something that is possibly even more valuable than whether or not you can do the job or not.”
Weave pulls in data from LinkedIn and uses a simple algorithm to help users match up with people that they’re more likely to be interested in meeting. In terms of competition, Ma said there are a few apps doing something similar, but nothing quite like Weave.
“The competition is parties, events and spam emails,” Ma said. “Those are my biggest direct competitors.”