A Northwest Pipeline to Silicon Valley

Ann McClure's picture

Some budding entrepreneurs and computer whizzes based here in the Pacific Northwest are starting to turn heads down in Silicon Valley.

They are professors and students at the University of Washington, home to what may be the best computer science department you’ve never heard of.

Although Stanford is considered the Hogwarts of techdom, U.W. has quietly established itself as the other West Coast nexus of the information economy. And while Seattle-area tech icons like Microsoft and Amazon have long relied on U.W. — pronounced “U-dub” by locals — as an incubator of talent and ideas, the Valley’s hottest companies have been getting the message, too.

Their executives have begun streaming up the coast to Seattle, fueled by a talent arms race for programmers. Facebook, Zynga and Google have opened offices in the area, trying to woo U.W. engineers who’d rather live here, where taxes and home prices are lower, even if mist and dark skies envelop the scenery for much of the year.

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