The $15.7 billion sale of Tableau Software is the latest affirmation that Seattle is a tremendous place to innovate, build companies and start careers.
Preserving this business climate, so it continues to create jobs not just for programmers but throughout the regional economy, should be a top priority of Seattle voters in the upcoming City Council election.
Salesforce, the San Francisco business-software titan that bought Tableau on Monday, is pledging to grow the Fremont data-visualization company and Salesforce’s existing Seattle team into a second headquarters. It will start with around 3,000 employees in Seattle and a strong philanthropic tradition at both Salesforce and Tableau.
Seattle companies have a long history of growing with infusions from San Francisco, starting with Bay Area investors who funded lumber companies around Puget Sound after the California Gold Rush in 1848.
More recently, the region’s tech industry has been anchored by a few giant companies — Boeing, then Microsoft and now Amazon.
They have prospered, and the state of Washington with them, in part because the region’s quality of life helps attract and retain talented workers. The area’s natural beauty helps, as does the diversity of housing, including both apartments and single-family houses near employment centers.
Public investments in education, particularly the University of Washington, also produce a steady stream of graduates ready to build the future.
Zillow CEO Rich Barton, a Microsoft veteran who also founded Expedia and other startups, said the Tableau deal validates Seattle being on the forefront of global tech innovation. It’s hard to see what’s happened over the last 30 years “as anything other than a miraculous cascade of tech innovation that has put Seattle on the world stage in way that only grunge rock did, ever so briefly,” he said. “Unless we shoot ourselves in the foot from a public policy perspective, I see no end.”
There are growing pains that must be addressed. They are worsened by city officials who fail to adequately plan for growth they authorize and mismanage rivers of tax revenue that tech companies generate. But those are fixable problems.
It’s far easier to replace shortsighted politicians — and thoughtfully expand police departments, housing and other infrastructure overwhelmed by growth — than it is to lure tens of thousands of jobs creating opportunity across a region.
Seattle must remain a place where companies want to grow and believe they have unlimited potential to improve the world. Their success should be celebrated, not exploited by divisive politicos, and the people they attract should be appreciated for the knowledge, diversity and prosperity they give the region. Then more of these employers are likely to remain locally based and perhaps become the next Microsoft or Amazon.