Is Seattle in a Paradigm Shift?

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Cloud computing and software development are transforming Seattle. The changes are shocking, but are they unprecedented? A colleague who worked many years in New York finance before returning to Seattle thinks this is a paradigm shift.

What separates this from Seattle’s gold rush booms in the 1890s? The population growth is identical, with each era adding 15,000 residents per year. The derivative change was much greater for the gold rush, going from 43,000 to 350,000 residents versus present day going from 600,000 to 700,000 in 10 years.

However, Amazon will define the next growth stage. Seattle already had the highest concentration of software developers in the world before Amazon. Now it’s getting easier to recruit the best data scientists, software engineers and Python developers because Seattle has an ecosystem of world class technology companies.

It’s clear that enterprise technologies are consolidating into cloud infrastructure and hosted software and that most of this will happen in Seattle. The question is how long will it last. The prospectors left the city on steamers to Skagway. Will the Python developers start families and settle down? Will Amazon continue to hire at such a prodigious rate?

That’s the question everyone’s asking. Amazon may define Seattle’s ascension to growth and prosperity. Or a collapse that craters finances for developers and homeowners. I’m long on the size of the software and enterprise IT industries and Amazon’s transformative power on these trillion dollar markets.  

One might argue the gold rush was a paradigm shift for Seattle since it formed the basis of the city for the next 50 years until Boeing took off. This shift may bring a more global, highly educated workforce as well as Manhattan-sized mortgages. It becomes a paradigm shift when it sticks around rather than board a steamer to Skagway.