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The Seattle Freeze is Holding Back the City's Tech Revolution

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Seattle might be home to Amazon and other big tech companies but a recent study says it's lagging other major cities thanks to a lack of collaboration in the startup community

Sometimes it seems all we hear about is the tech revolution going on in Seattle and how it's transforming the city. The growth and success of companies like Amazon and Microsoft have far-reach effects on development and affordability while the growth of companies such as Google, Facebook, and RealNetworks adds to the pile.

Turns out, while we might have a strong tech and startup community, we're not even in the top ten of major U.S. cities when it comes to readiness for the tech revolution.

According to a new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Seattle checks in at No. 11 overall.

The good news is that Seattle's growing population is high on highly-educated young residents and a skilled tech workforce that combine to give it one of the top talent pools in the nation. The bad news is that while Seattle has the nation's best IT company collection, it ranks low on "collaborative community" and "cultural foundations," both of which are critical for long-term success. In other words, the Seattle Freeze has seeped into the way our tech companies interact with one another.

A high concentration of tech startups means that Seattle should feel like a dense community, but local entrepreneurs don't perceive it that way. The strong disconnect between the indicators of general startup density (5th) and perceived density (21st) suggest that there is a lot of activity on the ground, but that activity may be occurring in isolated pockets. Only New York City recorded a similar trend.

The study specifically makes a comparison between Seattle and Raleigh, NC, which doesn't have the kind of A-list companies that Seattle has but spreads it's tech success across a broad region. Seattle, meanwhile, is keeping most of the tech revolution confined to the South Lake Union region.

As Chris DeVore, managing director of TechStars Seattle, recently said, Seattle can't rest on it's laurels as the home of Amazon if it wants to keep up with the rest of the revolution.

"Let’s not pat ourselves on the back too much for having really great companies in Seattle," he said. "Let’s build dozens of Amazons here."

· Innovation That Matters [USCoC]
· Seattle ranks only No. 11 among U.S. cities on readiness for ‘tech revolution’ [ST]