The Reality of Real Estate (BlueRoof Blog)

Thoughts, opinions, and truths about real estate and life as I see it...

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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Salt Lake City isn't Seattle

I was living in San Francisco during the tech boom and it was a total blast. Whether or not you were into technology or cared at all about start-ups or the internet, you could just feel the energy. There was electricity in the air and everyone could feel it. That's how Seattle seems to me now, too, with all the start ups and tech companies and the energy that's swirling around in the air. It's a pretty cool environment to be in if you are interested in technology.

The Salt Lake area (Wasatch Front) is a great place to live and it's growing and it has a ton of potential, and Utah actually was an early adopter state with regards to the internet, with more people per capita online in 2002 than any stat in the nation, so what's the deal? Why isn't Salt Lake, with all of it's incredible recreation, people online, and good working class, more tech-centric?

Here is my Top Ten list of reasons why the Salt Lake area isn't more tech:

1. Salt Lake is a bit cheap. And by cheap I mean people will go out of their way to save every penny they can. People sell their own homes, people sell their own cars, yard sales are everywhere (and every day people are going to them), and there are possibly more fast food places in the area than the rest of the universe combined. Some people are so focused on saving money they miss out on the big opportunities, stepping over a quarter to pick up a dime. And that's unfortunate because there are a ton of innovators in Salt Lake.

2. Too many people doing the same things. Being innovative is not the only quality a business needs. There are a lot of things that can contribute to a company having that critical early success, and one of those things is being first to market. In this area noone can be first to market because everyone here is doing every thing.

3. People are doing pieces of things. Instead of putting together a solid business plan, raising capital, recruiting a top notch staff and implementing a well thought out plan, many businesses here are really just a couple guys thinking they have a cool idea so they register a business name and website and open for business. No focus or direction really, just a cool idea.

4. The city/government doesn't encourage a start up environment. We have weird liquor laws, even stranger bar/club laws, and a spread-out and sparse nightlife. The culture is not a young, hip, fast-moving tech culture. It's a family fun, get home early for the kid's soccer game, work three night's a week for the church kind of culture. That's not a bad thing- just one way the area is different.

5. Utah is the youngest state in the nation. You might be thinking, "Younger people are more tech savvy and bring that into the workplace". You would be right, but also wrong. Young people in general are much more tech savvy and do bring that into the workplace with them, but our youth is largely in children, and many of the brightest move out of state to chase their tech careers- we need to encourage them to stay.

6. Too many tract homes. Cookie-cutter homes are everywhere in Utah. Even many of the custom homes aren't custo, they're "semi custom". So people live in these boxes that are the exact same as everyone else's boxes and that just doesn't encourage creativity. You can't think outside the box if you spend your entire life in one.

7. Not enough people. There's something about being in a highly-populated area that makes people thrive. Maybe it's a competitivness that develops or a wanting to get ahead, or maybe it's that with more people come more ideas and it's just the law of averages and the more people the more chance some will make it. Maybe being stuck in hours of traffic just gives people time to be creative and the road rage gives them the energy to keep thinking.

8. No NFL Football. I don't really know how this could effect things either way, but Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Boston all have NFL teams and they seem to be the most techy (that is a real word) cities in the country and I need some filler.

9. Not enough tourist attractions. Most of the VC money is not here and since most of that money goes to regional, if not local, start-ups, we don't see a lot of it. And because there aren't enough people flying in to Salt Lake to check out the dinosaur exhibits, we have a harder time meeting these people. We do have a phenominal ski industry- maybe the resorts could host some tech events.

10. Not enough coffee drinkers. The LDS religion frowns on drinking coffee, and much of the population is mormon so there aren't enough Starbucks- and we all know that that's where the tech deals are made. Probably has something to do with people who in the tech industry get their brains so wired up on cafeine that they can think of outrageous ideas and then have the energy to actually make those ideas work.

Salt Lake and it's surrounding areas are beautiful and there are a ton of outdoor activites, incuding the best skiing in the country. Low crime, friendly people, big mountains... but not nearly enough people blogging or conspiring to become the next Google. That's not all a bad thing, but it sure would be cool to see Salt Lake grow it's tech sector.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty design! Keep up the good work. Thanks.
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12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
Your perception of the Seattle market place is skewed. The past governor of Washington was a gentleman with strong ties to China. His father hosted about ten business men from China every two weeks that his son was in office.
It is not by random chance the President of China came to the Puget Sound regoin before any other place in the United States.
The regions strong relationship with China is now set in stone.
In the event the United states government decides to open up trade with China and allow Chinese business interests into the United States the Seattle area is positioned to benefit.
Seattle may at that time grow the same way Shangai or Beijing have grown. The future of Seattle is much more based in trade, warehousing, and manufacturing than in technology.
Thanks

6:39 PM  
Blogger gt242 said...

davidlosh,

Okay....

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write as if being Seattle and hosting the next big tech boom is the highest achievement a city could wish for. That is your opinion. I am not mormon and sometimes get annoyed by their assumption that they own this place, but I would rather have a culture that puts family before career than the 100-hour work week, 'must beat the competition at all costs,' 'he who dies with the most toys wins' attitude you're espousing.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...

You're insulting my community because it is thrifty, family-oriented, and uncrowded? Most Utahns are very proud of those qualities.

If you want loose liquor laws, crowded sidewalks and backed-up traffic, megarich empire-builders and dog-eat-dog competition then you know where to find it. We Utahns like who we are.

7:39 PM  
Blogger gt242 said...

Salt Lake City, and Utah is a great place to live, and a good community. I live here by choice because of all the good qualities I enjoy every day. This post is about how great Seattle, and other areas, have done in creating a tech-friendly environment and some of the things that I notice that we, as Utahns could do to embrace change.

Simply pointing out differences does not have to be a bad thing, in fact being proud of our community means embracing it as a whole. Only saying the best things you can think of is not what open communication is all about. Thank you for your point of view...

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article. The business sector is doing better now under governor Huntsman, but we have a ways to go.

PS- Badass coffee is a good substitute for Starbucks until we get more.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks nice! Awesome content. Good job guys.
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8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty design! Keep up the good work. Thanks.
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4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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