On Wednesday, I was on a panel on "How to Find, Fund, Protect and Launch New Technologies" sponsored by WBBA, University of Washington School of Law, and Fenwick & West. The panel was moderated by Fenwick's Stephen Graham and the other panelists besides me were WRF CEO Ron Howell, supernetworker Janis Machala, and UW Law's Sean O'Connor.
Luke Timmerman reported it under the title "Seattle’s Lifestyle Keeps Us Trailing the Bay Area, Says UW Startup Maven Janis Machala." That pretty much sums up Luke's take-away from the meeting. Luke certainly reported the most newsworthy event of the panel: Janis saying that quality of life gets in the way of startup success in Seattle. “There’s a lifestyle element here. People want balance. People in Silicon Valley don’t know what balance means.” Janis specifically faulted Microsoft Millionaires for not starting enough new companies.
My comments on the panel were in a different direction. A big problem Seattle has starting companies is lack of a ready bench of people in all roles who have started companies. Seattle is just barely big enough to really make it, or maybe not quite big enough. Seattle has bobbled just above or below critical mass for decades without really breaking out or really failing. Also, the current crisis is a potential opportunity for Seattle. The current uncertainty gives us a chance to redefine Seattle's role in the nation’s and world’s biotech community.