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Zillow's Spencer Rascoff
Zillow’s Spencer Rascoff at the Startup Grind event in Seattle.

Seattle has brilliant engineers, huge tech titans and a world-class university that pumps out top computer scientists and engineers.

And, at least this past winter, it didn’t even rain that much.

So, what’s missing in the Emerald City?

A little bit of brashness.

At least that’s the word from Spencer Rascoff, the 39-year CEO of Zillow who spoke Tuesday night at the Startup Grind event at Moz’s headquarters in downtown Seattle.

Rascoff, who now leads a 2,000-person company valued at $5.5 billion, thinks Seattle simply needs to walk with a little more swagger. And ditch some of the humility along the way.

“I still think Seattle is underfunded, and under-respected,” said Rascoff. “I still think there is more innovation here than there is capital or coverage. I think this geography is still an underdog, and is sort of being held back by its own humility.”

So, what’s the Seattle region to do?

Spencer Rascoff speaking with Mike Grabham of Startup Grind.
Spencer Rascoff speaking with Mike Grabham of Startup Grind.

Rascoff said that entrepreneurs and business leaders need to boast a bit more, and get outside the typical echo chambers.

“It is very counter to the overall culture in Seattle of humility, but I think it holds back the community,” he said.

We’ve heard this argument before: Seattle’s low-key roots anchored in immigrants from Scandinavia creates a culture where it’s just not cool to talk about what you do.

Madrona’s Matt McIlwain actually brought up the same argument three years ago when I asked him about any weaknesses he sees in the Seattle tech community.

“Our wonderful Pacific Northwest culture of humility and understatement works a little bit against us,” McIlwain said at the time. “Don’t get me wrong. We are not going to fall into the trap of the hype cycle of the Bay, but I think we have a lot of substance that is underappreciated still, and the more we believe in that, the more amazing success stories will come from here.”

Previously on GeekWire: Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff on what it takes to be an effective leader: Repetitive communication… Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff slams Move Inc. as legal tensions rise, dubs it a ‘crappy company’

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