GeekWire turns 10: Reflections on a unprecedented decade in Seattle tech

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“What Happens Here Matters Everywhere.” GeekWire’s refurbished conference room, with our motto about the Seattle region’s tech community, awaiting our return to the office. (BCRA Design Photo)

Anniversaries aren’t news!

This has been our stance for as long as we’ve been business and tech reporters, or at least since we realized that covering arbitrary milestones would leave little time for actual news. As we’ve approached the 10-year anniversary of GeekWire’s launch, on March 7, we’ve heard plenty of ribbing from the GeekWire team about how we’d mark the occasion.

We decided to do what we’ve always done: focus on the people, companies and trends powering the Seattle and Pacific Northwest tech and innovation community.

Looking back, we couldn’t have picked a better decade as GeekWire’s first. This was the moment that Seattle tech came into its own. We’ve covered the rise of the cloud, Amazon’s boom, Microsoft’s rebirth, the arrival of Silicon Valley engineering centers, disputes, mergers, IPOs, and the emergence of thousands of startups. And in the past year, we’ve covered Seattle as a center of the scientific and philanthropic response to a world-changing pandemic.

What happens here matters everywhere. This has become our mantra.

We’ve worked hard, with a great team, and we’ve survived our share of challenges and struggles. But the reason GeekWire is still standing as a profitable media venture is this community, and all of you as readers, sources, listeners, members, sponsors, and supporters. GeekWire has been fortunate to get to tell the world about this place for the past 10 years, and we’re still at it.

A time machine: To put the past 10 years in context, we each spent time reflecting on some of the stories we were covering in 2011 through 2012. It was like reminiscing over baby pictures. Many moments were a glimmer of big things to come. Some were not.

  • Amazon’s first delivery lockers, a story we pursued and chronicled in extreme detail, were an early sign of the massive last-mile delivery infrastructure that it’s still rolling out across the country. A lawsuit from an accessory maker, accusing the company of bullying, was also a prelude. And Jeff Bezos set the tone for the decade when he assured shareholders that Amazon was “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”
  • A 2011 Microsoft video conveniently gave a vision for technology in the ensuing 5 to 10 years. While some details didn’t hit the mark — we’re still waiting for that augmented reality taxi window — the video accurately anticipated the proliferation of information and interactivity across an array of devices and screens, enabled by the cloud.
  • Back in 2011, a 10-year peak in U.S. venture capital investing, at more than $30 billion, sparked concerns about a potential bubble about to burst. In reality, it was just the beginning. The number rose steadily over the decade to top $156 billion last year.
  • The lighthearted “Post-it Wars” among tech companies in downtown Seattle in 2011 seem painfully quaint when viewed through the window of 2021, with many of those offices empty and the streets below reflecting persistent economic and racial inequities.
  • But this 2011 prediction from a certain research firm takes the prize for missing the mark most of all: Will Windows Phone surpass the iPhone by 2015? Gartner thinks so.
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GeekWire’s team: Looking back on the past 10 years, it would be easy to reminisce over the stories GeekWire has broken, reflect on our lunch with the late Anthony Bourdain, or laugh about getting pulled over on our way to be interviewed by Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes.

But what really stands out are the moments with the people who’ve built GeekWire with us.

Todd Bishop, John Cook and Jonathan Sposato at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)
  • We’re grateful to GeekWire’s chairman, Jonathan Sposato, our business partner and sole investor, for sticking with us all these years. True story: Back in 2010 or so, after a group dinner in which TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington ribbed John for working at a big media company rather than launching his own startup, Jonathan pulled John aside and offered his support for such a venture. Later, we took him up on it, and we’re fortunate to have his ongoing input and counsel as we continue to build the company.
  • Speaking of longevity, Taylor Soper joined us eight years ago out of the University of Washington as the first hire on the GeekWire news team, which he now leads. He’s the hardest-working person in tech news, and he exemplifies GeekWire’s core values. We’re grateful to him for enduring two hard-nosed reporters as bosses.
John Cook runs for the finish line, surprising GeekWire contributing editor Monica Nickelsburg (center) and editorial operations director Cara Kuhlman (right) in our 2017 “Great Race” across Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
  • We love group activities with the GeekWire team. Some of them are just for fun, like our annual summer sail on Elliott Bay, led by our editorial operations director and resident boat captain Cara Kuhlman. But the best of them also produce great content, in the true spirit of startup productivity. Our favorites include our multimodal race across Seattle at rush hour, and our month-long GeekWire HQ2 project in Pittsburgh.
  • But the biggest team-building moments, by far, have been our GeekWire events. Some of our best memories of GeekWire’s first 10 years have been working with our small, scrappy team to pull off conferences such as the GeekWire Summit, and celebratory community events like the GeekWire Awards. We’ve learned a lot hosting virtual events in the past year, under the leadership of sales and marketing chief Holly Grambihler and the business and events team. The online experience will continue to inform what we do, but we can’t wait for the day when we can see all of you in person again.
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Our families: Both of us had young kids when we started GeekWire, leading to jokes about taking on multiple startups, but the reality of those early days (and years) could be dark and difficult for our families, and especially for our spouses, Holly Firmin and Amy Bishop. It can still be tough at times. They deserve credit for GeekWire’s success as much as anyone.

John’s late mom, Sallie Cook, a journalist herself, was an inspiration to GeekWire’s news team. Todd’s mom, Peggy Bishop, has listened to every minute of every podcast we’ve ever produced (or at least close to it). And our dads, Roger Cook and Bob Bishop, both entrepreneurs themselves, have provided business wisdom and insight at key moments.

Let’s cut this off before we set an inadvertent precedent for corporate anniversary coverage. Thanks to all of you for your support. Here’s to the next 10 years for this great community. We can’t wait to see (and report!) what happens.

Here’s how you can get involved with what we do.

  • Send us a news tip.
  • Sign up for GeekWire’s newsletters.
  • Attend our one-of-a-kind GeekWire events (virtual, for now).
  • Join the GeekWire membership program.
  • Become a GeekWire advertiser or sponsor.
  • Learn about our Health Benefits Program for tech startups.
  • Submit your startup to our Pacific NW Startup List.
  • Follow the GeekWire 200 index of Pacific NW tech companies.
  • Check out the GeekWire Community Events Calendar.
  • Subscribe to the GeekWire Podcast.
  • Find your next great gig or geek on our GeekWork job board.
  • Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
  • And don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.
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