Jeff Reifman http://jeffreifman.com Lookahead Consulting, Seattle, Washington Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:16:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Amazon’s Seattle Headcount to Nearly Triple in Five Yearshttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/12/04/amazons-seattle-headcount-nearly-triple-five-years/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/12/04/amazons-seattle-headcount-nearly-triple-five-years/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 07:45:39 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4089 Shortly after ‘Amageddon': How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future went viral over at GeekWire, Amazon dropped a bombshell. It’s building enough office space to nearly triple its Seattle headcount by 2019. If you like the current dose of Amazon on our city, how would you like two more doses of equal size? Well, it’s coming our way. ...

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Shortly after ‘Amageddon': How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future went viral over at GeekWire, Amazon dropped a bombshell. It’s building enough office space to nearly triple its Seattle headcount by 2019. If you like the current dose of Amazon on our city, how would you like two more doses of equal size? Well, it’s coming our way.

During Thanksgiving week, GeekWire and the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Amazon plans to have 10 million square feet of office space within five years – enough for 71,500 employees (typically, tech companies budget 140 square feet per worker).  In May, I estimated that the company currently hosts 24,669 employees in Seattle, a bit below the current capacity of its existing 4.1 million square feet of office space. That means that Amazon’s building capacity to have 2.9 times the number of employees in Seattle than it currently has.

headcount

To get a sense of what Seattle may be like in five years, consider all the impacts on Seattle I wrote about in “Amageddon” and triple them – don’t worry, the next Bolt Bus to Portland probably still has space.

Traffic and Diversity Nightmares

The two things that most concern me about Amazon’s plans are its impact on Seattle traffic and on diversity:

1. Traffic: GeekWire reported that Amazon says “it needs developers to build 30 new residential buildings in and around downtown Seattle, with at least 200 units each.” Their hope may be that the majority of these new employees will be able to walk and bus to work but I find the scale of proposed growth shocking. Seattle currently has the fourth worst traffic in the nation and there is very little new transit planned to address much of the inner city core or east – west routes. The city and the state need to step up and revitalize Seattle transportation development now.

office-space

 

2. Gender: The best estimates I’ve found for Amazon’s gender ratio in technology hiring is 75% male via Payscale.com, which is also in line with Microsoft’s. Since Amazon refuses to disclose the gender makeup of its technology workforce, I trust this estimate more than Amazon’s 63% disclosure, which represents its massive worldwide workforce e.g. including warehouse workers. So, if you’re already concerned about Amazon’s impact on the gender ratio in Seattle, imagine what two more waves of this level of imbalance will do to the city.

Here’s how Amazon’s projected 2019 headcount would compare to today’s Microsoft and Boeing, which are no longer rapidly expanding:

company

Is This an Amazon Bubble?

Certainly, Amazon could build out the office space capacity and not fill it within five years. The company has a huge backlog of open job positions in Seattle and can’t seem to find people to hire quickly enough. But, given the company is currently under fire for its prolonged failure to turn a profit, one must wonder for how much longer its shareholders will tolerate this rate of expansion.

One future for Seattle is that Amazon succeeds and the city resembles San Francisco. An overabundance of wealthy white males and a colossal traffic mess. Another possibility is a plethora of empty office towers and bankrupt developers that cast an economic shadow of gloom over the city for decades. The former is probably more likely – but it’s clear that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train of growth which Seattle is ill-prepared for.

 

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Two People that Made Me a Better Writerhttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/22/two-people-made-better-writer/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/22/two-people-made-better-writer/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 17:49:28 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4075 If you liked this week’s “‘Amageddon': How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future,” there are two people that you may wish to follow, unfortunately, one has passed on and you can only read some of her earlier material. Jeanne Sather Back in 2002, I took a UW Extension course on non-fiction writing taught by journalist Jeanne Sather. She ...

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If you liked this week’s “‘Amageddon': How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future,” there are two people that you may wish to follow, unfortunately, one has passed on and you can only read some of her earlier material.

Jeanne Sather

jeanne-satherBack in 2002, I took a UW Extension course on non-fiction writing taught by journalist Jeanne Sather. She taught me how to write well, how to interview, how to pitch and how to get paid. She was tenacious and pushed her students to have backbone. Without Jeanne, I wouldn’t be a published writer. Building skill in my writing has opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for me, and I’m very thankful for her teaching and encouragement.

Jeanne developed breast cancer in 1998 and died in 2013 – that should tell you something about how strong a person she was. In 2003, she wrote about cancer in a cover story for Seattle Weekly, “Running with Fear: Confessions of a breast cancer poster child.” Jeanne hated the hypocrisy of pink cancer promotions and much of the language associated with cancer e.g. “so and so lost their battle with cancer.” For years, she blogged at Assertive Cancer Patient advocating; when I looked today the site was down – at least temporarily. You can see it at the Internet Archive, though I struggled to load recent pages there. She wrote her own obituary which is available at her blog and hopefully will come up again in the archive. You can also read the Seattle Times’ obituary of her.

Chuck Taylor

Chuck’s still alive and will probably be annoyed to be mentioned here (at least on the surface). Jeanne encouraged me to pitch a Microsoft article idea to Chuck at the Seattle Weekly back in 2004. I remember the day we met for coffee to discuss it in person because Google had chosen to launch Gmail with a gigabyte of free storage on April 1st, 2004 – and I thought it might be an April’s Fools joke.

Despite that misjudgment and me being a new writer, Chuck helped mentor me enough to deliver Microsoft’s Sacred Cash Cow, which began a ten year journey reporting on Microsoft’s billion dollar Nevada tax dodge; the impact continues to this day. I also produced two more covers for Chuck and the Weekly that year. Quite a big step for a new writer – I think this shows what great teachers and mentors they are.

Chuck taught me to check all my facts, to back up everything and to be able to definitively explain why I know what I wrote in each and every sentence. It’s an invaluable lesson to a new journalist.

So, thank you Chuck. Chuck’s now at the Everett Herald which has been in the center of some huge stories such as the tragic Marysville shooting and the Oso Mudslide. You can follow Chuck on Twitter @chcktylr.

Personally, I’ve felt this has been a break out year for me as a writer – this past week’s Amazon piece, May’s Too many dudes: Amazon’s growth is ruining Seattle’s dating scene, says single guy and August’s Where are Washington’s K-12 dollars? Just ask Microsoft shareholders – which actually led to protests and Shining Light on Internet Rage, et al.

Teaching and mentoring matters. Thank you Chuck and Jeanne.

 

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Amageddon: Amazon’s Driving Seattle to an Increasingly Obvious Futurehttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/19/amageddon-seattles-increasingly-obvious-future/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/19/amageddon-seattles-increasingly-obvious-future/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 03:25:52 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4048 GeekWire published my latest “‘Amageddon': How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future“. It’s received nearly 10,000 Facebook actions and definitely tapped into unspoken upset in Seattle residents about the company’s growth. Here’s an excerpt: When I arrived in Seattle in 1991, Tim Wistrom’s art playfully epitomized post-apocalyptic Seattle. But increasingly, the city’s likely doom appears much less ...

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Tim Wistrom's Apocalyptic Vision of Seattle

Tim Wistrom’s Apocalyptic Vision of Seattle

GeekWire published my latest “‘Amageddon': How Amazon’s culture is taking a toll on Seattle’s future“. It’s received nearly 10,000 Facebook actions and definitely tapped into unspoken upset in Seattle residents about the company’s growth.

Here’s an excerpt:

When I arrived in Seattle in 1991, Tim Wistrom’s art playfully epitomized post-apocalyptic Seattle. But increasingly, the city’s likely doom appears much less fantastic and closer: an unaffordable traffic-filled metropolis dominated by white males and devoid of independent culture – fueled by Amazon.

In May, I calculated that Amazon’s planned office space would employ five percent of the city of Seattle – but that was before it inked deals to build or lease an additional 1.37 million square feet; it’s now on track to employ 45,000 locally or seven percent of the city.

Columnist Danny Westneat recently wrote that locals are openly asking in jest, “Do you think they’ll let us stay?” Assuming they do, what values do our city’s most populous neighbors share?

During my time at Microsoft during the ’90s, people spoke of “drinking the Microsoft kool aid”. For me, that included turning a blind eye towards Microsoft’s domineering, monopolistic practices; to employees spending their day on the company’s isolated suburban campus, the company couldn’t do much wrong. That changed for me in the years after I left and got psychic distance from the company and ultimately when I reported on the hypocrisy of its executives’ education advocacy in the shadow of its billion dollar Nevada tax dodge.

If Amazon employees are similarly absorbing the values of the company and its founder, Jeff Bezos, just what are those values and what might Seattle look like a decade from now?

Read the full post at Geekwire

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Inconsistent Results with the Twitter APIhttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/12/inconsistent-results-twitter-api/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/12/inconsistent-results-twitter-api/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:40:47 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4039 Getting inconsistent results with the Twitter API? I found this gem in Twitter API documentation: Lastly, there may be times in which the rate limit values that we return are inconsistent, or cases where no headers are returned at all. Perhaps memcache has been reset, or one memcache was busy so the system spoke to a different instance: the values ...

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Getting inconsistent results with the Twitter API? I found this gem in Twitter API documentation:

Lastly, there may be times in which the rate limit values that we return are inconsistent, or cases where no headers are returned at all. Perhaps memcache has been reset, or one memcache was busy so the system spoke to a different instance: the values may be inconsistent now and again. We will make a best effort to maintain consistency, but we will err toward giving an application extra calls if there is an inconsistency.

So, I’m not sure there’s a way to definitively tell if you’ve retrieved a user’s entire timeline history. Or, at least definitively determining that you’ve found their earlier tweet is complicated.

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Microsoft At Workhttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/05/microsoft-work/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/05/microsoft-work/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 22:02:47 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4025 My first project at Microsoft was to guide the requirements and end user design for fax machines running Windows. One of the challenges was working with very early, expensive, inaccurate touch screen technology circa 1993. You can learn a bit more at Wikipedia. Microsoft At Work: Ricoh IFS77 Intelligent Fax Machine Commercial from Jeff Reifman on Vimeo.

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My first project at Microsoft was to guide the requirements and end user design for fax machines running Windows. One of the challenges was working with very early, expensive, inaccurate touch screen technology circa 1993. You can learn a bit more at Wikipedia.

Microsoft At Work: Ricoh IFS77 Intelligent Fax Machine Commercial from Jeff Reifman on Vimeo.

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Elise Blaha Cripe: How to Start a New Project – World Domination Summithttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/03/elise-blaha-cripe-start-new-project-world-domination-summit/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/11/03/elise-blaha-cripe-start-new-project-world-domination-summit/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:35:57 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4022 Elise Blaha Cripe gave a great speech at this past July’s World Domination Summit on how to start projects you don’t know how to do. “You just do. You do it before you know the outcome. You start before you know how you’re going to finish. You set the goal before you have the skills to finish it. And you ...

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Elise Blaha Cripe gave a great speech at this past July’s World Domination Summit on how to start projects you don’t know how to do.

“You just do. You do it before you know the outcome. You start before you know how you’re going to finish. You set the goal before you have the skills to finish it. And you get uncomfortable, because that is what pushes you further.”

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Huge WordPress Hosting Promotion at WPEnginehttp://jeffreifman.com/2014/10/30/huge-wordpress-hosting-promotion-wpengine/ http://jeffreifman.com/2014/10/30/huge-wordpress-hosting-promotion-wpengine/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:21:08 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4008 Visit WPEngine and use the code “WPEWSD14″ at checkout. – expires Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at midnight GMT. The personal plan is only $40 annually, a fantastic bargain. Consultants can host 10 large sites for $61 monthly or 25 sites for $186 monthly. If you’re a blogger, WPEngine also has one of the best affiliate programs in the business.

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Visit WPEngine and use the code “WPEWSD14″ at checkout. – expires Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at midnight GMT. The personal plan is only $40 annually, a fantastic bargain. Consultants can host 10 large sites for $61 monthly or 25 sites for $186 monthly.

If you’re a blogger, WPEngine also has one of the best affiliate programs in the business.

wpe-nov14


Huge Promotion at WPEngine

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