I’ve tortured a lot of my friends with the recommendation to try Quartz, the app that gives you the news with a messaging UI. It really gives you a view (among other apps, like WeChat) of how the messaging UI will come to be a major factor for many, many use cases.
This article isn’t about that, though. Today on Quartz, there was a long-ish article indicating that Amazon is hiring more MBAs than any other tech company. According to the article, Amazon hired more than twice the number of MBAs as Microsoft (#2 in tech hiring of MBAs) and even more than McKinsey at some schools. This is significant for three reasons.
One, as Fred Wilson pointed out in his blog this weekend, business model innovation is at least as (or maybe more) important than technology innovation — “new business models are even more disruptive than new technologies” he writes. As a lawyer by training, I’ve been trying to make this point for years — partly to make lawyers seem as relevant to building companies as engineers! But MBAs fill the bill, too.
Second, because “Amazon teams run like small startups,” Amazon’s MBA hires are in effect learning rapidly how to found and run startups. Tenure at Amazon is a barbell by most accounts. Some people love it and become lifers while others treat it like extended (but kinda miserable) graduate school where they learn a TON but can’t wait to get out. No one denies that it delivers top notch experience. So, this huge influx of MBA talent, running a startup (or a series of start ups) inside Amazon, will undoubtedly fall into these two categories, as well, which means some of them will leave — and gee, what will they do? Go work for another big company that isn’t as intensively innovative? Probably not.
Finally, we’ve long recognized that we don’t have as many great startups in Seattle as we “should have.” While Seattle is chronically short of engineers (isn’t everyone), we have more than anyone else (and many of them are at Amazon — see barbell comment above), so the technical talent is here. My thesis has been that we don’t have enough entrepreneurs. The reason I’m so excited is that I now think (please, please, please be right) that the MBAs that Amazon is bringing to Seattle will meet some nice engineering talent, fall in love with the Pike Place Market and the mountains and seed a never-before-seen-in-Seattle field of ambitious, home-run-seeking startups.
P.S. Please stop the rain. That might scare off some of these shiny new MBAs.
Heather Redman is an executive at Indix Corporation, and an angel and early stage fund investor and board member. Her civic involvement includes serving on the boards of the WTIA, the Seattle Chamber, Forterra and the Finance Committee of the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy.