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Techstars Managing Director Andy Sacks at the 2013 Demo Day.
Techstars Managing Director Andy Sacks at the 2013 Demo Day.

Are more and more Silicon Valley entrepreneurs looking to Seattle as a place to build their startups?

That’s what Techstars Seattle Managing Director Andy Sack is wondering after seeing some interesting stats on the companies that applied to his incubator’s 2014 program that kicks off this fall.

Sack notes that Techstars Seattle saw a 65 percent increase in applications from San Francisco startups compared to 2013. There was also a 34 percent spike in applications from California in general.

Sack writes that this “puzzled” him:

At first, I figured that if you can’t make it in Silicon Valley something must be wrong with the company. Until I looked further into the applicants. The majority of these startups were in fact very talented people with great ideas. Many of them ended up making it to the final rounds of our selection process and some even ended up being accepted for this year’s class. This led to the question: “Are Silicon Valley startups looking to Seattle for greener pastures”?

Perhaps there is a trend here. Although some say San Francisco is the “center of the tech world,” Seattle is a city full of strong technical talent, a place that’s still far more affordable to live in, and has been called the “cloud capital of the world.”

There’s also pressure building in Silicon Valley with tensions growing between the tech elite and the middle class. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff discussed that issue in his keynote speech at the GeekWire Awards in May, saying Seattle has “the right balance of mutants and mortals.”

“The Bay Area is so overrun with people like us that they have attracted the picketers’ pitchforks,” he said.

Seattle skyline and Rainier at sunset
(Photo by Kevin Lisota)

Napster co-founder Jordan Ritter also touched on this topic in an interview with GeekWire earlier this year. Ritter recently moved from San Francisco to Seattle to create a new “innovation studio” because of what he sees as an unhealthy environment in Silicon Valley.

“I’ve been building up a feeling, as I’ve watched the changes in Silicon Valley over the past 14 years, that things aren’t actually going in that great of a direction for society, for people, for the middle class,” Ritter said. “I don’t feel like it is a healthy place to be.”

Entrepreneur Tom Dale noted the same thing in his post that detailed reasons for moving his Bay Area company to Portland.

“In Portland, my mortgage payment will be the same price as the rent I pay in San Francisco,” he wrote. “The only difference is that, instead of sharing a small house with two other dudes, I can have a larger house to myself. Portland offers all of the great restaurants, coffee shops and bars that I love about SF, without having to overhear conversations about Series A rounds or monetization strategies.”

So maybe that “Seattle Freeze” isn’t so cold — or at least not chilly enough to keep away out-of-state entrepreneurs from building companies here.

Related: How San Francisco maps to Seattle: A reference guide

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