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At TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon and Microsoft. Macklemore and Dave Matthews. Rain. And “that big tower.”

I’ve spent the past few days in the Bay Area, hanging out at TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual conference hosted by the San Francisco-based tech news website.

In between the on-stage panels with folks like Marc Andreessen and Stephen Curry, and the hundreds of startups here pitching their ideas, I spoke to a handful of Bay Area-based attendees to get their thoughts on Seattle, where GeekWire is based.

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Most had never been to Seattle, but knew that it was a beautiful place that they wanted to visit. They cited tech incumbents like Amazon and Microsoft when asked about what comes to mind in regard to Seattle’s technology industry. People certainly were at least aware of Seattle’s burgeoning tech scene, unlike some New Yorkers we talked to last year.

But several couldn’t name any Seattle-area startups, and didn’t think there was much of a startup scene in the city — at least compared to Silicon Valley.

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(Kurt Schlosser / GeekWire)

It was interesting to hear Bay Area folks describe Seattle, given the ongoing debate between Silicon Valley and Seattle, and which place provides a better environment both for everyday life and to start a tech company.

Both areas share similarities. But besides the quality of NFL football teams and amount of winding city streets, there are also differences between the two regions. For starters, the people — one of my favorite infographics is this graphical comparison poking fun at the geek stereotypes of Silicon Valley and Seattle.

An infographic created by GeekWire and Killer Infographics in 2012. Click on image for original story and full version.
An infographic created by GeekWire and Killer Infographics in 2012. Click on image for the full version.

As far as tech ecosystems, the Bay Area is clearly still king, particularly when it comes to startup investments. But Seattle is a big tech hub itself, with plenty of innovative companies and talented engineers, as illustrated by all the Silicon Valley tech giants that now have engineering centers in the region.

Bay Area techies are also increasingly moving north to places like Seattle and Portland, with many feeling the pinch of skyrocketing housing prices. Many people also cite a more relaxed/under-the-radar tech culture in Seattle.

It’s nearly impossible to say one is *better* than the other as a place to live and work. Much of it comes down to personal preference.

But it’s still a fun conversation. Here’s what some Disrupt attendees that live in the Bay Area had to say about Seattle.

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Katie Dahm.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“It’s a hotbed for a lot of companies. You have the Amazon’s and a lot of other companies that have big corporate offices up there, too. T-Mobile and Microsoft are also based up there.”

What about the startup scene?

“I think there is one. It’s up-and-coming, especially in the past couple of years. I have a bunch of friends that either work at the Facebook or Dropbox office, or at startups based in Seattle.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“Rain. Macklemore.”

— Katie Dahm

Wai-Seng Wong.
Wai-Seng Wong.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“Amazon. Boeing. I also really like this factory I visited, Paccar.”

What about the startup scene?

“Not much. We tend to think of the big names. But I’m sure there is an outflow of people and talent starting their own thing.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“Seafood, the market maze, Starbucks, ice cream, nice hotels. It also used to have the only Din Tai Fung on the West Coast. It’s a nice place. I enjoyed my time there.”

— Wai-Seng Wong, Khazanah Nasional

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Meg Rahner.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“I find it erupting in the tech industry a little bit, especially with Amazon. There are also a lot of startups getting started up there, and people moving out of the Bay and into Seattle. I’ve been hearing a lot more of that, especially in the past year. It’s an emerging tech industry.”

What about the startup scene?

“I have heard of the startup scene there. I feel like more and more companies are wanting to get started in Seattle or move over to Seattle, based on the location itself, an emerging tech industry, and the fact that for a lot of people, it’s really hard to live in San Francisco and work here on a startup salary.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to go visit, it’s at the top of my list. It’s not that far from the Bay Area. The location itself is supposed to be beautiful, and a little rainy.”

— Meg Rahner, CircleClick

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Darrell Brown.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“There’s an association and connection with Seattle and technology. Microsoft comes to mind. A lot of tech talent seems to be embedded in that area historically, and it didn’t happen just overnight. It’s been a period of time, and I think that’s well recognized. There also seems to be a lot of talent there, whether it be technology or artistic.”

What about the startup scene?

“Not so much.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“Emerald; green; rain, Starbucks. The Northwest, it’s mystical, it seems like something so different. I would love to visit, but not during the rain.”

— Darrell Brown, MintShow

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Sarah Harris.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“Amazon; Microsoft; Boeing. There’s something in real estate … Zillow.”

What about the startup scene?

“It is somewhat known that there is one, but it’s not just a Seattle thing. It’s happening in other areas like New York, with Silicon Alley, and Chicago. I can’t name any Seattle startups.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“Nature; hiking; water; coffee; dew; rain. Lots of green. I would move there — the Bay is a pain in the ass traffic-wise, and it’s becoming unlivable in some ways.”

— Sarah Harris, HP

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Allister Barretto.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“I do know that Amazon has one of its biggest offices there. Microsoft, as well. The much bigger companies have their biggest operations in Seattle.”

What about the startup scene?

“Startups don’t really come to mind, but I could be wrong.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“It’s beautiful. I’ve never been there, but every time it comes to mind, I remember the beautiful pictures of the skyline, along with that big tower, I forget what it’s called.”

— Allister Barretto, Flock

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Ankita Verma.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“A lot of like big companies like Amazon and Microsoft come to mind.”

What about the startup scene?

“I know there are a couple of startups coming up and Seattle is touted as the next big, cheaper Bay Area because the Bay is getting more expensive.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“Rain; outdoors; Pike Place.”

— Ankita Verma, The Wharton School

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Raj Sarathy.

What comes to mind when you think about Seattle’s technology scene?

“Microsoft.”

What about the startup scene?

“I haven’t heard of it.”

What else do you think about when I say Seattle?

“Coffee; rain; tech; Space Needle; Dave Matthews.”

— Raj Sarathy, StreetEdge Capital 

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