For Seattle, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman:
Internet guru Michael Arrington often opens conferences by asking audience-members from Silicon Valley to raise their hands and then, if they were born in the Valley, to keep their hands raised. Hands go up and down like The Wave.
And this is what Michael loves about the Valley: that it calls out at dog-whistle frequencies to nerds across America, Russia, India and China. The single-mindedness of their migration belongs in National Geographic. My first roommate spent four years building a company in San Francisco without ever buying furniture. When his startup went bust, he packed for the trip home to Toronto the same day.
Seattle is different. People live in Seattle because they love Seattle. When I was still looking for a reason to be here myself, I often asked Redfin recruits what brought them to town. The answer I always hoped for was “CONQUEST.” But what everyone talked about was something I still barely understand: the lifestyle and schools, the mountains and lakes. “Do you have any idea,” I finally told one candidate, “how bizarre it is to swim in a lake at the center of a city?”
For Silicon Valley, Michael Arrington:
Having literally tens of thousands of bright tech minds around you to listen to and challenge those ideas, as you do in Silicon Valley, gives entrepreneurs a critical competitive advantage ...
Sure Seattle is beautiful (Kelman talks about lakes and outdoor stuff a lot in his post). And if you want to have a balanced, healthy lifestyle, that’s a great place to do it. If you don’t think you have what it takes to make it in Silicon Valley, maybe Seattle or other mini-tech hubs is the place for you. But the best of the best come to Silicon Valley to see if they’re as good as the legends that came before them. It’s a competitive advantage to be here. And if you aren’t willing to take advantage of every possible advantage to make your crazy startup idea work, perhaps you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur ...
The fact is that all those great things about Seattle, or wherever, don’t have a damned thing to do with offsetting the business and cultural advantages of Silicon Valley. Making lifestyle choices is fine, but don’t delude yourself into thinking those choices are anything but a tradeoff. If staring at lakes and skiing after work are important to you, don’t pretend to be surprised when your startup doesn’t cut it.
And Kelman's response.
(H/T: Bert Sperling). I see Kelman's post as a pure play to position Seattle in the battle for talent. Kelman's rationale also sounds a lot to me like the one Peter Jackson told me was behind his move to Wellington, New Zealand - LA is a hyper-competitive rat-race with lots of disamenities, Wellington offers a stable place to work, cheaper housing and an amazing place to live. But the fact of the matter is that there are hyper-driven people who will choose the Valley, and many others who will trade-off in favor of quality of life plus a solid, though perhaps not cutting edge tech network.