A Seattle tech all-star team: Madrona Venture Group Managing Partner Tom Alberg, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman and Flying Fish partner Heather Redman. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)
It seems everyone has an opinion on Amazon’s splashy announcement that it plans to build a second North American headquarters, and that includes Seattle’s tech leaders.
During a panel about venture capital at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor conference, a meeting in Seattle this week meant to further connections between tech and civic leaders in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., the topic of Amazon’s big announcement came up. The panel featured heavyweights in the Seattle and Vancouver tech scenes, with the Seattle side including Tom Alberg, Madrona Venture Group managing director and Amazon board member; Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman; and tech investor Heather Redman, managing partner at Flying Fish Partners and incoming chair of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Kelman called Amazon’s move to open a second headquarters “inevitable,” and he said he was surprised it took this long. Because of Seattle’s explosion as a tech hub, the cost of recruiting and retaining talent has risen sharply, and companies are starting to look at lower cost areas, Kelman said. At Redfin, for example, the company used to pay engineers fresh out of school about $80,000 annually. That number has spiked to $120,000 to $130,000 thanks to all the competition for talent.
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)
“The main problem is we have become a victim of our own success; the cost of labor has gone through the roof,” Kelman said. “Even if you can pay, the sheer ability to hire that many people in this region and house those people has strained the region. I think for Amazon just to scale it needs another place in North America.”
Redman though, was puzzled by the …read more