Notes from the Seattle tech hub. Beyond Microsoft and Amazon
Updated: Jun 30
The personal computing revolution and the tech booms that have followed -- all started when Bill Gates decided to go home to Seattle, and took Microsoft along with him.
An Ivy League dropout, Gates put his big brain to work alongside childhood pal Paul Allen -- and boy, $100-bajillion dollars later, boy did it pay off. Not just for Microsoft -- but for so many companies that sprouted out of the ecosystem that the first tech giant built (and soon enough, Amazon would add its own global-stomping heft to the city).
Today, Seattle now ranks as the most attractive metro area in the US for STEM jobs in a tech industry report, thanks to Amazon and Microsoft, and more companies’ relocation from Silicon Valley.
Amazon and Starbucks may have brought the IT crowd and coffee lovers to the city, but this is where a Seattle tech PR agency can lend a hand. When it comes to telling many innovative companies' stories, that seems to be lacking (and if you're the CEO of one of those startups or scale-ups -- hey, let's chat).
Without further ado, here's a roundup of the interesting stories we're following for the Seattle tech hub.
Adversity breeds creativity for the tech hub of the Pacific Northwest
So what is Seattle doing right? In light of the pandemic, Seattle tech startups and companies have adapted products and services to better serve the ‘new normal’. New features and research collaborations are happening at an unprecedented speed.
Though the tech giants remain, quick innovation seems to be a startup speciality for this Pacific Northwest tech hub, and funding for startups has allowed them to innovate on a larger scale. Home to Microsoft and Amazon, Seattle is benefiting from the talent and finance the city attracts.
Telehealth and biotech are in demand now more than ever, acting fast to address the healthcare pressures. Undergoing software development and research combined with investment from the neighbours, some of the biggest companies in the world, means we can expect to see a healthcare revolution in the Pacific Northwest.
The end of doctors’ visit equates to the rise of telehealth
The irony of not being able to visit a doctor during a pandemic is not lost on the tech world. But rather than succumb, this challenge acted as a catalyst. Telehealth was already booming internationally.
Why disrupt your day to physically visit the doctor when you can reach them on the phone?
In five years the global telemedicine market is expected to exceed a value of $130.5 billion, according to a 2019 report. The number of physicians that now report telemedicine in their skillset was increasing by 20%, and that was before a worldwide health crisis.
The message to health professionals is clear -- get online, or get out. Age bears little impact, with 50 percent of American physicians interested in telemedicine aged 41 to 60.
Startup Saykara was leading in telehealth long before Covid-19 showed us how technology could mitigate a chunk of doctor visits. Their pioneering ambient AI voice assistant, Kara, was supporting medical professionals by writing up clinical notes, ordering diagnostic tests and prescriptions, referring patients, freeing doctors up to focus on their patients.
When the pandemic hit, like all other companies Saykara had to shift their business model. Kara was integrated with Zoom, allowing physicians to continue with online appointments with the AI’s support as before. Saykara was able to adapt fast, maintaining the efficiency Kara provided while adhering to social distancing protocols.
The new normal doesn’t negate successful pre-pandemic business models. It’s difficult to imagine what the future of telehealth could be -- but by pandemic-proofing system systems in use, it’s hard to imagine they’d fade away. Being able to adjust a business model as quickly as Saykara was able to is the key to surviving the economic crisis and rescuing revenue.
Productivity software companies power up for remote workers
Remote workers were once rumoured to have to the best of both worlds -- a stable income that could be earned unshowered, in pyjamas. A pre-pandemic survey showed that though 99% of workers aspire to be remote for at least part of their career, they faced a unique set of challenges.
The top three problems identified were work/life balance, feeling lonely, and collaborating/communicating, and despite being a few months into remote working, many employees still find they struggle with productivity, relying on technology to get them back on track -- problems that tech experts Uplevel have recently addressed.
This startup uses data insights and analytics to determine how software developers and engineers can work more efficiently. Through the analysis of communication and organization tools used, Uplevel can determine how to optimize time, reduce execution risk, and develop team members’ skills.
To combat issues brought on by remote work, Uplevel introduced three new features to their product: ‘Always on’ to protect work-life balance and ensure employees aren’t constantly doing overtime, ‘Isolation’ to maintain connections throughout a team ensuring collaboration and social time that could be lost, and ‘Throughput’ to address issues and bottlenecks that are harder to solve outside the office, and maintain effectiveness.
Remote working is on the rise across the tech sector, making software like Uplevel a popular stand-in for a physical workspace and team. Productivity software companies across the city address every aspect of remote working from training to prototype-making, ensuring a smooth transition from a workspace to a kitchen table.
Amazon’s offspring: the startups that benefited from a big, friendly giant
It’s hard to talk about Seattle without mention of the e-commerce leader. Amazon is starting to disperse some of that wisdom across the startup scene, as previous employees use their experience as a springboard for new ventures.
Convoy launched in 2015, with previous Amazon General Manager Dan Lewis, leading the way in efficient freight.
The middle ground between Airbnb and hotels appeared in the form of Domicile, launched by ex-Amazon General Manager Ross Saario to monopolize the business travel market.
Co-founder, CEO and Chairman Jeff Lawson of business communications experts Twilio, was one of the first product managers of Amazon’s Web Services.
And a little company called Hulu was formed by a group that included founding CEO Jason Kilar, a previous employee of, you guessed it, Amazon.
Amazon, amongst other Seattle-based companies, is cultivating startups through funding and passing on of talent. An abundance of finance and ideas has set the stage for the future of tech.
Understanding health data through Microsoft’s biotechnology collaboration
Amazon’s not the only big player boosting their neighbours. Adaptive Biotechnologies’ work with Microsoft recently made for a big tech PR splash: ImmuneCODE, a realtime immune response database from thousands of COVID-19 blood samples across the world.
This biotech company has been the pioneer of immune-driven medicine, transforming the way diseases are treated through a better understanding of our adaptive immune systems. Though they aren’t technically a startup anymore, the niche they exist in means that mainstream media isn’t always their jam.
One of the biggest differences between Adaptive Biotech and other companies, aside from the scientific methodology, is their open dataset. ImmuneCODE shares a detailed, population-level database with the public, and offers a newsletter that alerts subscribers of any new developments. The public is invited into the meeting room, and offered a chair.
Travel tech in a socially distanced age
The number of startups either born out of or catalyzed by the pandemic may be one of the only positives about our current circumstances. Adversity breeds creativity. Started in late 2019, Cabana combines travel and tech to develop a mobile and self-contained holiday. It’s more fun than it sounds.
Conventional travel is a struggle at the moment. Cabana’s ‘mobile hotel amenities’ mean consumers can work remotely, travel, and stay out of public accommodation at the same time. The startup has been converting cargo vans into comfortable and well-equipped mobile-hotels, accessible to rent through the Cabana apps. Between stays, the vans are thoroughly sanitized and prepared for new occupants.
A recent $3.5m investment means the company can expand their business beyond Seattle. What may have been a small startup on the west coast may soon be a new national form of travel.
The headline you need? Seattle, the tech hub of the Pacific Northwest
Despite the endless ventures coming out of Seattle, some tech investors suggest that many innovative companies, including a few would-be unicorns, aren't telling their stories well enough. Indeed, tech PR is the missing key to the city’s success. As it happens, we can help you with that.
Is your innovative company looking to build your brand? Get in touch with a tech public relations agency for Seattle, USA