“Microsoft will never innovate in Redmond, Washington. For that, it needs to move to San Francisco,” reads a Forbes article out Monday that has a few Seattle tech experts laughing.
Should Microsoft move from Redmond to San Francisco? Writer Peter Cohan, who writes from “near Boston” according to his byline, gives all sorts of reasons why Redmond has become conservative and risk averse, and that Microsoft cannot hope to grow unless it leaves town.
“He’s completely wrong,” says GeekWire’s Todd Bishop.
According to Bishop, Cohan contends that Seattle is too soft. The environment inside and outside the company breeds a culture where Microsoft employees are willing to just coast, they’re willing to have people poaching from the outside, and they don’t have people who are aggressively competing in terms of startups.
Bishop says he’s wrong about these assumptions, because Microsoft has spun off Inrix in Kirkland and Expedia, which actually started inside Microsoft.
“So the other thing that the columnist got wrong is that the environment here is actually hyper competitive for talent,” says Bishop. “It’s not as competitive as it is in Silicon Valley, but in the past five years we’ve had Google, Twitter, Facebook, all these giants from down south come up and establish engineering offices.”
The piece also implies that San Francisco has a bigger well-educated pool of talent, and it might be true, that in Washington our weak spot is our support of public education.
“I’ll revise my earlier statement,” says Bishop. “He’s only 95 percent wrong.”
Bishop admits the problem in the Puget Sound is the quantity of our educated, quality workforce. In Silicon Valley that trumps us. What it really comes down to, he says, is that we need to take big risks – and that plays into education as well.
And if Redmond is too conservative a city for Microsoft, perhaps it’s time to give Seattle’s Wallingford and Fremont neighborhoods a try. Anything goes in Fremont.
“They should just start anew in Kent,” jokes Bishop. “It’s a blank slate. You could just knock down the warehouses and you’d be all set.”