Seattle, Washington is known for a great many things including its rainy weather and many pop culture phenomenas. From Grey’s Anatomy to Frasier, Sleepless in Seattle and the band that started the grunge movement in the early 90’s, Nirvana, the city has seen its fair share of recognition and consequentially tourism attraction over the years.
What people may not know is that Seattle is creeping up on becoming the next big center for the tech industry. While Microsoft’s headquarters are just a half hour outside of the city, Seattle can count Amazon, Tableau and Google as tech residents. In this week’s Tech Center tracker, Jon Mann, Executive Creative Director of Artefact, spoke with PYMNTS about how Seattle is becoming one of the top tech places to be.
Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Seattle and its tech scene:
- The city of Seattle had a population of 684,451 in 2015
- The Seattle metropolitan area had a population of 3,798,902 in 2016, which makes it the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States
- Median household income (2015): $70,594
- There are more than 1,890 startups
- The city has a strong entrepreneurial community and great schools along with a large network of financiers and advisors
- Total Seattle funding in the last 12 months: $1,932,630,474
Given all of these numbers and the potential future economic growth of the area, it’s entirely possible that Seattle is becoming the next hot spot in tech.
The Washington Technology Industry Association reports the amount of people working tech jobs has reached 250,000 in the state and is growing at a rate of ten percent each year. It’s also reported that the demand for people to fill tech positions is outpacing the supply. While 2016 saw the need for 4,000 new tech roles, there were a mere 500 qualified candidates, and the remainder were found outside of the state.
Jon Mann, Executive Creative Director of Artefact, a digital experience innovation company that uses human-centered designs to solve intricate issues and create products, discussed with PYMNTS how Seattle is moving into the tech space and how it's being transformed.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation:
PYMNTS: Can you describe your personal and/or professional experience with the tech community in Seattle?
JM: Artefact celebrated 10 years in the design and innovation business in 2016, and we’ve been in Seattle the entire time. Our founders, Rob Girling and Gavin Kelly, come from extensive experience at Microsoft, and as Artefact has grown, so has our portfolio of companies from the Seattle tech sector — and many organizations beyond tech. Seattle has deep roots as a tech community with Microsoft across Lake Washington, but it’s also a city that has made phenomenal new growth in the space with companies big and small. Throughout Artefact’s 10 years, it’s been exciting to see the tech community grow, push new boundaries, and become a leading tech hub for innovation. We like to think we have played a role in shaping Seattle’s design scene as part of this tech sector growth, as well.
PYMNTS: What is Seattle’s FinTech sector like? How has it changed or grown in recent years?
JM: FinTech is a fascinating area to watch in Seattle because the innovations happening in the finance space are coming from unexpected and interesting places. For instance, Amazon’s new initiatives like Amazon payments and the Alexa voice-enabled ecosystem continue to push consumer-facing FinTech ideas forward. You can also see organizations like The Gates Foundation doing tremendous work “banking the unbanked” and searching for creative uses of technology to support people in the world’s poorest regions by connecting them with financial services.
PYMNTS: Which sectors of the technology landscape are thriving in Seattle? How do you see these industries evolving in the coming years?
JM: There is an impressive diversity to the technology landscape in Seattle. I think it’s notable that many companies are focused on cloud and enterprise and providing back-end improvements for cloud, analytics, healthcare and education systems — in addition to consumer-facing companies. And of course, Seattle has a history with aviation, so it’s exciting to think of a future tech sector that includes aerospace innovation as well.
PYMNTS: Is there anything else you think people should know about Seattle's role as a global tech center?
JM: Not only has Seattle steadily become a thriving tech hub, but design in Seattle is stronger than ever. Seattle is full of companies that value the role of design in creating products and services that address the needs of people, feel intuitive an look beautiful. Combined with the great talent, business and consumer challenges, Seattle is poised to be a major source of innovation for years to come.