The Amazon Spheres in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
A ploy. A farce. A PR stunt.
Amazon is taking it on the chin this week following reports that it altered course, settling on not one, but two locations — Crystal City in northern Virginia and Long Island City in Queens, New York — for its so-called HQ2 project.
For economic development operatives in the 18 other cities which reportedly didn’t make the cut — from glitzy L.A. to Jeff Bezos’ hometown of Miami to the cheesesteak capital of the world Philadelphia— losing this ballyhooed HQ sweepstakes could be viewed as an unfortunate missed opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime change to land one of the world’s most important tech companies.
A juggernaut by every metric imaginable, Amazon alone could cement a region as a tech hub on the scale of Seattle or Silicon Valley, the proponents say.
But let me offer a bit of homespun Seattle advice. Take a deep breath, and now slowly exhale with a sigh of relief. Count your blessings.
You are going to be OK, if you lost this competition. In fact, your city may have won.
As Boston Globe correspondent Scott Kirsner put it — responding to the latest HQ2 plot twist — “being stiffed by Amazon is a good thing.“
And so it goes with Amazon.
Inside the Battery Street tunnel in Seattle (GeekWire Photo)
Beyond the friendly smile logo, there’s a love-hate affair with this mysterious tech titan, perhaps most noticeable in Seattle where, ironically, tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars exist because of it.
At a conference in Palm Springs this week, an attendee asked me about the HQ2 speculation, and he was shocked to learn that Amazon is not beloved in its own hometown of Seattle.
It’s complex, I told him.
We saw this first-hand when the GeekWire team traveled to Amazon HQ2 finalist Pittsburgh earlier this year, part of our very own month-long HQ2 editorial experiment. A naïveté existed about Amazon, from city hall to startup incubators to the corridors of the universities.
It began to sink in. Outside of Seattle, Amazon is largely viewed as a nimble cutting-edge cheetah that can’t misstep, delivering packages and goods in a speedy manner, with a smile.
In Seattle, it’s not so much a smile, as a grimace.
The anger is everywhere, from the barista lamenting traffic congestion to the graffiti scrawled inside the Battery Street tunnel (See photo above).
And this has been the …read more