So Where Should Amazon Build HQ2?

Amazon has outgrown Seattle. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you build your company in a downtown core, rather than take over some unused farmland in a far flung suburb like Redmond. So now it’s time to find HQ2. Where should they go?

There’s no doubt that every city from Anchorage to Yuma will make a bid. But if I worked at Amazon, with a chance to be transferred at any moment, here are my top 5 picks.

  1. Raleigh, NC: The Carolinas are fantastic. Since most Washingtonians haven’t made it that far southeast, you might not know this. But Raleigh is especially comparable to the Pacific Northwest. In fact with Raleigh you get a more educated population, more universities, and closer access to a warm beach. You’d give up Uber access to an NFL or MLB team, and day trip access to Double Diamond ski runs. But you coud still get a Daisy run in if you need it. Plus you could buy a 5,000 square foot house for a year or two of salary.
  2. Pittsburgh, PA: If a company is interested in AI, cozying up to Carnegie Mellon would be a pretty good way to do so. It would have plenty of opportunity to build a downtown campus, and still be close to New York and Washington D.C. As an employee, if you can deal with a Seattle winter, you could probably deal with Western Pennsylvania.
  3. Nashville, TN: Far enough east to give you access to New York, Boston, etc… and far enough north to keep you safe from hurricanes. Several great universities in driving distance, so there is a huge talent base to draw from. Plus, it’s great a place for distribution. Didn’t FedEx make its HQ in Memphis?
  4. Charleston, SC:  Full disclosure, I have an affinity for Charleston. I think it’s the most underrated place to live in the country. You are giving up major league sports for friendly southern living. But you’d have Clemson, USC, and College of Charleston all in spitting distance. Oh, and if you are a current Amazon employee, its another place where your mortgage payment for a monster 5 bedroom estate would be the same price you now pay for your 800 sq ft apartment in Seattle.
  5. Detroit, MI: Detroit? Detroit?! Who wants to live in Detroit? Well several decades ago, the auto industry decided it was a good place to dominate an economy. So why can’t Amazon repeat that? Easy access to New York, Chicago and Canada. REALLY REALLY cheap downtown real estate. Employees could buy McMansions for nothing. Heck, Amazon could buy entire neighborhoods, develop them and sell them to employees. Plenty of professional and collegiate sports teams to support. And you could always escape the Midwest winter with a quick trip to Florida.

Your thoughts? If you were a current Amazonian, where would you be ok being transferred to?

* Image used without previous permission from https://www.designboom.com/architecture/seattle-approves-amazons-biosphere-headquarters-by-nbbj-10-25-2013/

Some Fun Trivia to Celebrate Mariners Opening Day

It’s the home opener of our favorite hometown 9, the Seattle Mariners. So let’s take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and review some stats and trivia since the day the Mariners were bounced from the last playoff game in which they participated, October 22, 2001.

Things that did not exist the last time the Mariners were in the playoffs:

  • Xbox (launched 11/15/01), Century Link Field (2002), Facebook, Instagram, iPhone, Amazon Web Services, Seattle Sounders, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tesla, Uber, Snapchat, Link Light Rail.

Notable stats from October 2001:

  • U.S. President: George W Bush
  • 2001 U.S. House of Representatives: Democrats 213, Republicans 220
  • 2001 U.S. Senate: Democrats 50, Republicans 49, Independent 1
  • 2001 Seattle Mayor: Paul Schell through November, then Greg Nickels elected
  • 2001 Washington Governor: Gary Locke
  • 2002 Oscars (for movies produced in 2001):  Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind | Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Training Day) | Best Actress: Halle Berry (Monsters Ball)
  • Top 10 TV shows, 2001-2002 season: Friends, CSI, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Law & Order, Survivor, Monday Night Football, The West Wing, Will & Grace, Leap of Faith
  • 2002 Grammy Awards (for songs produced in 2001):  Song of the year: Fallin, by Alicia Keys | Record of the year: Walk On, by U2 | Album of the year: O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack
  • 10 Richest People in the World: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Karl and Theo Albrecht, Paul Allen, Larry Ellis, 5 heirs to Sam Walton – Jim, John, Alice, S Robson, Helen

Sports Champions since the day the Mariners lost in 2001:

  • World Series winners: Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston (3),  Chicago White Sox, St. Louis (2), Philadelphia, New York Yankees, San Francisco (3), Kansas City, Chicago Cubs.
  • Super Bowl winners: New England (5), Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh (2), Indianapolis, New York Giants (2), New Orleans, Green Bay, Baltimore, Seattle (YAY!), Denver
  • NBA Champions: Who cares, the league ceased existing to me in 2008.

Statistical Points of Interest:

  • Seattle Population:  2001 – 570k | 2013 – 652k
  • Cost of Super Bowl Ad: 2001 – $2.2 million  | 2017 –  $5.0 million
  • Internet Advertising Revenue: 2001 – $7.2 Billion | 2015 – $59.6 Billion

Meet Your New 2017 Sounders

The MLS season is a long one, running a full 9 months from early March to early December. So before the ink was even dry on the papers forever documenting the 2016 Sounders MLS Cup win, the wheels of progress were underway to form the 2017 version. Many of the players who played a decent sized role in the title run found themselves trading their Rave Green uniforms for flights back to their home countries. Meanwhile, a new set of Sounders filled out change of address forms, and made plans to move to Seattle.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the turnstyle over the last 3 months. (For a full review, read this article from SounderAtHeart.)

Who’s Out?

The MLS has some pretty onerous salary cap rules. Add in 2 new expansion teams this year in Minnesota and Atlanta, and it makes it hard to keep a team together. Here are the 18 names you won’t see wearing a Sounders uniform this year:

  • Nelson Valdez (released because he was too expensive and signed with a team in Paraguay)
  • Tyrone Mears (released and signed by Atlanta)
  • Dylan Remick (released and redrafted by Houston)
  • Erik Friberg (released and signed by a team in Sweden)
  • Andreas Ivanschitz (released and signed by a team in the Czech league)
  • Zack Scott (retired)
  • Herculez Gomez (retired)
  • Some guys you may or may not recognize were also released and signed with minor league teams (or retired): Darwin Jones, Charlie Lyon, Jimmy Ockford, Victor Mansaray (loaned out) Michael Farfan (retired), Nathan Sturgis (still unsigned), Oalex Anderson (still unsigned)

Who’s New?

New Sounders are often guys we’ve never heard of. So, for these 8 new players, I’m sharing the 0-100 ratings the video game FIFA 2017 gives them.

  • Clint Dempsey, F, (Back from Disabled List): 80
  • Gustav Svensson Mid, / Def (from Sweden and Chinese League): 72
  • Will Bruin, F, (from Houston): 69
  • Harry Shipp, Mid, (from Montreal): 68
  • Bryan Meredith, GK, (from San Jose): 61
  • Nouhou Tolo, Def, (Sounders 2): NR
  • Henry Wingo, Mid, / Def (Homegrown): NR
  • Seyi Adekoya, F, (Homegrown): NR

Who’s Back:

Check and make sure your favorite players are still here. Just 14 remain from the team that won in Toronto, but 9 of them started that night.

  • Tony Alfaro, Def: 62
  • Osvaldo Alonso, Mid: 79
  • Brad Evans, Def / Mid: 70
  • Alvaro Fernandez, Mid:  70
  • Oniel Fisher, Def: 61
  • Stefan Frei, GK: 73
  • Joevin Jones, Def: 66
  • Aaron Kovar, Mid: 62
  • Nicolas Lodeiro, Mid: 78
  • Chad Marshall, Def: 74
  • Tyler Millar, GK: 58
  • Jordan Morris, For / Mid: 68
  • Cristian Roldan, Mid: 65
  • Roman Torres, Def: 72

Now I’m no math genius, but if you lose 18 players and add 8, you should still have some roster space available. In fact, an MLS team can carry 28 players on their roster at one time, so since the Sounders only have 22 on the current sheet, logic dictates you’ll see 4-6 more players either get signed from Sounders 2, or come in a late transfer window signing. The primary MLS transfer window runs from Feb 18 – May 11.  Then, the secondary one opens from July 10 – August 9.

The Sounders still do have one ‘Designated Player” spot available, meaning they can essentially sign a player for any amount of money they want and not have it hit the salary cap. (Dempsey and Lodeiro are the other two. Valdez was the 3rd, so they cut him to get that Designated Player spot back.)

So there you go; that’s your 2017 Sounders squad. See you at Century Link.

Stories You Missed – January 2017

We all can’t read everything, and our Facebook feeds are now overrun with political arguing. So to make things easy for you, I’ve assembled some of the stories from last month about tech, marketing, sports and Seattle that you may find interesting.

  1. Three Sounders FC Departments Honored with 2016 MLS Club and Executive Awards: Congrats to the team members who don’t wear jerseys. Sounders FC tied for the lead among all clubs with its three awards: Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year, Marketing Team of the Year and Public Relations Team of the Year. I don’t know how these awards are judged, but if you enjoy your time at Sounders games, these groups probably play a big role.
  2. After Buyouts, Layoffs, 23 Staffers Exit ‘Seattle Times’: Well if you think that the national newscasts are a series of partisan wonks arguing talking points back and forth, then you won’t like this article. The newspapers still can’t figure out a business model, which means more cuts to local journalists. If you have an idea for how to save local news, you’re running out of time to share it.
  3. Dramatic video footage shows drone circling and then crashing into Seattle’s Space Needle: Well I guess this is why we can’t let everyone just fly their drones around all the time…
  4. The latest Amazon-occupied building sale shows how far Seattle real estate has come in last decade: If you think your house or apartment is expensive, imagine trying to buy an office building in Seattle these days. One of Amazon’s 290,000 square foot office buildings just sold for $269 million – or about $925 a square foot. That compares to $1.85 Million for your 2000 square foot house.
  5. Venture Investment in Seattle Area Companies Falls 27 Percent in 2016: It was a mixed bag of news about how much money investors poured into Seattle companies in 2016. On the downside, for the full year, investors poured just over $1.5 billion into 282 local deals, down 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively, from 2015. But on the upside, the fourth quarter of 2016 saw 77 local deals completed, totaling $561.3 million, compared to 81 deals totaling $190.6 million in the same period of 2015, and the final six months of 2016 saw a combined 157 deals, up 26 percent from the first half of the year, and $919.7 million invested, up 58 percent.

Oh and the Seahawks lost. But we don’t need to rehash that.

Have a good story to share? Email me and let me know.

What is Performance Psychology?

Russel Wilson has one on staff. Most college and pro teams have several. But what does a Performance Psychologist actually do?

Elizabeth Boyer, PhD, describes it this way:

  • Develop strategies to build consistency and satisfaction in sport and life
  • Identify solutions for challenges and concerns.
  • Get support to successfully navigate set backs, injuries, and transitions.

You can learn more about this field by checking out her site, Northwest Performance Psychology.

 

A Few Thoughts About Sigi Schmid

It’s the end of an era. Quite literally.

The Seattle Sounders have only known one head coach in all their days. Through 250 MLS matches, a host of playoff games and some lengthy runs through the U.S. Open Cup and Champions League, Sigi Schmid has been the only man driving the bus. And now that ride has ended.

While Sigi was alone in compiling 115 wins, 69 losses and 66 draws from 2009-1016, the Seattle Mariners are now on a 5th manager to pull them out of their 573-660 streak.

Sigi will get criticism for not winning the MLS Cup, a compliant that seemed to heat up after the Seahawks got their ring three Super Bowls ago. And the cry of, “Well we’re still an expansion team” fell on deaf ears as soon as the hatred Portland Timbers raised the cup ahead of the Sounders. At that point, the knives were out.

But Is 2016 Sigi’s Fault?

The Sounders had a run of bad luck last year that stretched them thin, so they stocked up on some guys who were supposed to plug the holes and then provide depth in 2016. At this time this year, here is what the Sounders lineup was “supposed” to look like:

Forwards: Starters: Obafemi Martins, Dempsey, Valdez. Bench: Jordan Morris.
Mids: Alonso, Evans, Ivanschitz. Bench: Kovar, Roldan, Friberg.
Def: Mears, Torres, Marshall, Jones. Bench: Scott, Remick.

Instead, Torres is hurt and Martins is sitting on a bench in China. Dempsey missed a month on National team duty. The Sounders were trotting out a lineup of role players and hoping Jordan Morris could dramatically exceed any reasonable expectation of a rookie. Evans got shoved back to defense and couldn’t contribute on offense. When Dempsey was here, he had no one to pass to. The team was so slow that defenses could push high up the field and pressure guys like Scott into turning it over in front of goal.

A lot of things went wrong this year, and I’m not sure if any coach could make that lineup work. The Sigi detractors have a fair point – that with the players we ended up with, he stubbornly stuck to a formation that didn’t seem to fit them. It’s really a double edged sword. If he was switching formations every few games (the way we all would playing FIFA on XBox) and it didn’t work, we’d be yelling about that.

And so that leaves Sounderland in a little bit of a quandary. Sigi was “our guy” from the get go. Adrian is “our guy.” GM Garth Lagerway is a Real Salt Lake guy. “Our guy” took a fall because the coaching staff and management team couldn’t get results in 2016 with the product they put together. Now we have to trust in Lagerway to find the right players and the right coach.

I’ll miss Sigi. I’ll miss wondering how a guy who spends every day on a soccer field and eating meals specially prepared by a scientific driven training team could possibly weigh in at 3 bills. I’ll miss standing behind the bench trying to figure out what crazy substitution is coming next.

But this is a reminder that nothing lasts forever. The storybook start to the Sounders franchise, with Sigi leading us to a 3-1 win over New York, still hasn’t had the magical payoff moment we’ve been waiting for. I hope it comes soon enough that Schmid’s fingerprints are still on the team. I hope we get to see Brad Evans and Ozzie Alonso lift a cup and we can remember Sigi’s original influence.

So long sir. I feel lucky that we had you take the reins at the beginning and lead us to where we are today. Best of luck in whatever challenge you take on next.

Join me at the Seattle Interactive Conference November 3

Over the last few years, I’ve had a few amazing chances to get in front of a large audience and either speak on, or moderate panels full of smart people. In about two weeks, I’ll get the opportunity to moderate a panel at one of my favorite events – the Seattle Interactive Conference.

The panel is focused on the changing role of online advertising. Here’s the description:

Game of Screens: The Rise of Multi-Screen Marketing
The rapid evolution of consumer behavior as it relates to their media consumption has rendered many of advertising’s traditional targeting and measurement metrics difficult or obsolete. So how do you accurately measure results when Device proliferation is making even basic reach and frequency management nearly impossible? How can you balance the new expectations amongst consumers that messaging to them should always be relevant and timely? And what are some recent technology advancements in targeting and measurement to help address some of these challenges? In this panel, executives from Choicestream, GoDaddy, Logitech and Sharethrough will share their experience and expertise in delivering successful behavior-driven marketing to consumers who live on multiple screens.

The panel will be on Nov 3 at 11:00am. If you’re attending the event, please come on by and check out our session. And if you have questions you want answered, shoot me an email and I’ll add them into the queue.

I’ve Become One of “Those” People, and You Guys Can’t Drive

I like to think that at my advanced age, I have the ability to shift opinions. To change my mind. To “evolve,” as it were.

For years, I did not understand the concept of riding a bike to work. I found it non-sensical. Foolish and childish even.

But then about 3-4 weeks ago my doctor explained some things that were going to happen to me in the coming years if I did not lose a fairly significant amount of weight. And he wasn’t saying things like, “Wow you are going to feel great!”

So I left his office, went to the bike store, and bought myself a new way to commute to the office. I’m now one of “those people” who are in the way when you are driving to work.

What I’ve learned

Now I’m in no way an expert yet. I’ve maybe done the Wallingford to Downtown Cannonball Run about 8-10 times. But here are some initial impressions.

1) You people can’t drive. I never noticed it before, but there really is no consistency from one driver to another. You make crazy left turns out of nowhere, pull over in bike lanes (it doesn’t matter if your hazards are on, I still can’t jump over you), block interceptions at red lights, and nose your car out into the middle of the road. Bring on the driverless cars.
2) Texting and driving is seriously dangerous. There aren’t a lot of things a biker finds scarier than seeing someone in a car with their face buried in their cell phone. We have no idea where you are headed, if you see us, or what you are going to do.
3) We need more bike lanes. On my way in, I zip down Stone to 34th to Dexter to Bell to 2nd and it’s a breeze. On my way out of town, inexplicably you can’t head back UP 2nd very far. So I have to weave through buses, cars and/or pedestrians on 3rd and Blanchard to get back to a safe path.
4) Some bikers are really decent humans. Contrary to my previous belief about bikers being traffic-causing, egotistical, stubborn jerks, a lot of bikers are pretty nice. We usually end up in a nice little pack around stop lights. There’s safety in numbers and we’re all more visible when we’re traveling in a flock. Usually everyone is following traffic rules, being courteous to drivers, and being safe.
5) Some bikers are total jerks. Nothing is more frustrating to a rookie biker like me than seeing some yahoo zipping through traffic, slinging between lanes, ignoring street signs and signals, and generally creating chaos. For the record, I’m the guy following every rule, doing everything like you’d expect the guy on the bike to do. Bikers who flaunt the fact that they are on a bike scare me because they make you unpredictable.
6) The time is comparable. On an average day at rush hour, driving 6 miles downtown plus parking takes me about 25-30 minutes door to desk. On a bike, 30-35.

Ok, I’m a cheater
So here’s the thing. I’m not in good enough shape to get up Stone Way. And I don’t like the idea of being stuck at 8mph in traffic. So I bought an electric bike. I’m an absolute believer in these things.

The electric bike is great because you really only use it up hills, or if you need to maintain a consistent speed of 15-20 mph. You can shut it off if you’re by yourself and can go at your own pace. And maybe one day when I’m in better shape I’ll be able to keep it off altogether. But if you are considering becoming a bike commuter, look into the electric bike. It will help get you off the fence.

So there you go
So I’m a convert, at least when I can be. It’s still totally impractical for anyone who needs to wear a suit or pick up the kids after work. But there might be a good number of you who could pull it off.

And try that electric bike.

One Human, One Block, One Year: An Idea for Solving Homelessness

So file this under pie in the sky, hopeless ideas that have no chance of coming true.

Unless, that is, one person tries to get it going.

NPR published an interesting article the other day about Homelessness in Seattle. One stat stood out: “According to the latest count, in January, more than 3,700 people live on the streets of King County. The number of people sleeping outside shot up by 20 percent in just the past year.”

3,700.

Via NPR

That number sounds enormous when you are thinking about how a government agency could fix the problem. And the government has proven it can’t do it. Here’s another stat from the article, one that should make you pretty mad. “All told, under a 10-year plan put together a decade ago by a public-private partnership called the Committee to End Homelessness, roughly $1 billion has gone to the cause.”

$1 Billion spent in 10 years. 3,700 homeless. At $100 million spent per year, we could just pay every homeless person an annual salary of $27,000 and just close down whatever services are trying to solve the problem.

But 3,700 is also a really small number.

King County has 2.044 Million people. For every 1 homeless person in Seattle, there are 550 non-homeless. This is the math I use to think there’s an opportunity at fixing this problem.

One Human, One Block, One Year
The idea is simple philosophically. Homelessness stops being a macro issue that we need “leaders” and “organizations” to try to solve. Homeless people need to stop being nameless, anonymous shadows that we can easily ignore on the side of the on ramp.

Let’s make homelessness a neighborhood cause. And not just a neighborhood cause, but a block cause.

I’m going to guess that almost every city block contains the following things:
– A house with an unused shed, mother-in-law attachment, garage or other structure that could be fitted with a simple bathroom. (And if not, a group of 20 people who’d split the rent on an apartment for someone.)
– At least one if not more people who hire part-time help.
– Someone who is or knows a psychologist, therapist or life coach.
– A teacher.
– A retired person willing to occasionally give someone a ride.
– Someone who’d spring for a bus pass.
– Neighbors with extra clothing they can give to a specific human.
– People who will donate money to make sure someone they know is well fed.

When you think of the idea that 550 people working together could help a single person get off the street, it seems almost mathematically insane that we have homeless people in the first place.

Now yes, I know that there are gigantic holes in this idea. Addiction, dementia, stubbornness, safety. These are all issues that would have to be dealt with. Then you’d have to get through the government red tape of permits, zoning, etc…

But doesn’t it seem doable? Doesn’t it seem like if everyone who lived on your block assembled for two hours one Sunday afternoon, you could come up with everything you need to get someone a home, a part-time job, a wardrobe, counseling, a bus pass, some education and tutoring, addiction treatment if necessary, and most of all – friends in a neighborhood. Friends who want to see their guest succeed and move on to successfully re-start their own life in 12 months.

That’s my utopian idea. One human, being helped by one block of neighbors, for one year.

Does Pronto Have Their Pricing Wrong

Since I work downtown a lot, and I am always rooting for startups, I’ve been keeping an eye on the bike-renting service “Pronto.” I think it’s a cool idea, and with enough manipulation, you can kind of shove this square peg into the circle hole of The Collaborative Economy. So that intrigues me as well.

Via DowntownSeattle.com

So this week I wanted to use the service to get about 9-10 blocks across downtown. And here is where I found out that I think they may have a simple to fix problem – pricing.

Pronto will let you rent a bike for 24 hours for $8. It seems like a paltry amount to spend. But I don’t need a bike for 24 hours. I need a bike Car2Go style – for 5 minutes to get to my meeting across downtown, and then an hour later I need it for 5 minutes to get back.

For $8, I can hop in an Uber. For $8 I can buy a sandwich and eat it as I enjoy a 15 minute walk. Sure 8$ is only $.33 an hour. But I only need the bike for 4% of the time in which I can have it. I’d rather pay 5-10x that $.33 per hour rate, and get closer to 70-100% efficiency.

That’s my use case. Maybe I’m unique. But I really want this company to succeed, so I’m curious why the pay by the hour model isn’t a viable alternative. Regardless, there seems to be more and more Pronto stands popping up all over town, so they must be doing something right.