Amazon HQ2 — well, half of it (!?!) — is coming to the DMV. As a tech business in DC, we try to predict what the future holds so we can respond to it. And as active members of the #DCTech community, we want to know what it means to our friends and neighbors. With this in mind, we offered the community a 16-question survey and an opportunity to share how they feel about “winning” half of Amazon’s coveted prize.
What does HQ2 mean to #DCTech? We pulled the results and dived in.
First up, a lot more of you thought that there will be a net positive effect on the region than a net negative effect (43% positive vs 28% negative). When it comes to your businesses specifically, though, there’s a less confident optimism (28% positive). C-Level folks were the most optimistic group when it came to the impact on their businesses (44% positive), but in general, Virginia-based respondents were less confident compared to their counterparts in the District (26% positive VA vs 44% positive DC).
Clear Winner: It’s the economy, stupid.
A combined 64% of respondents either directly referenced economic growth or chose the influx of jobs and capital as the most likely positive result. Within hours of Amazon’s announcement, Virginia Tech proved this point with plans of their own (though obviously connected to Amazon’s news) — a $1B Innovation Campus in Alexandria. And that wasn’t all. George Mason confirmed the expansion of their Arlington campus with significant investments in the School of Computing and the Institute for Digital Innovation (read more).
What’s the worst that could happen (or has happened)?
Nearly half of the respondents expect a strain on the housing market to be the most likely negative effect. Perhaps we’re worried DC will emulate some of San Francisco’s failures, where their housing crisis has reached disastrous proportions. We’re a far cry from the Valley, but the fear is real. Fairly or unfairly, Amazon takes a lot of heat for skyrocketing real estate prices in Seattle. Meanwhile, affordable housing has already become an issue here on both sides of the Potomac.
Check out the infographic and read some of the most striking comments from our survey participants below. Thanks again for everyone who took part, and feel free to share.
Amazon’s decision to invest here is a big win for the Capital Region — and just the latest proof that from Richmond to Baltimore, we are truly a super-region. We are already a global hub for tech innovation and home to some of the best educated, most skilled workforce in the country. Now, thanks to Amazon’s decision, we all have a great chance to continue to build around our common purpose: making this the best place in the world to live, work, innovate and compete.
Ted Leonsis (CEO, Monumental S&E)
The ecosystem effects of having Amazon in the region will have a high potential for long term positive impact, but only if the company takes a proactive and collaborative approach. While it's best when ecosystems develop organically, the region stands to benefit on several levels... including the potential for partnerships and/or acquisitions from Amazon. Here's hoping they do…
Adam Zuckerman (Founder, Fosterly)
Hiring techies is hard enough without this, and I fear the short-term loser will be DC startups competing for tech talent. I've seen Capital One swallow up a lot of local startup folks, and the brain drain will continue. For 3Advance, the upside is that more groups should turn to us for help, the downside is that we need to re-up our recruitment game. Long term though I see another swing, as next-gen entrepreneurs learn their trade at Amazon etc, and join a new wave of innovation once they leave.
Paul Murphy (CEO, 3Advance)
Amazon will create many quality jobs and draw additional employers to the area that seek to leverage the regions robust labor demographics and municipal infrastructure. Additionally, the commitments by universities such as GMU and VaTech will serve to increase the academic platforms needed to keep pace with the needs of those employers. We will see a large demand for commercial office space and a corresponding increase in rents and valuations.
Erik McLaughlin (SVP, CBRE)
Amazon HQ2 will most likely improve the regional transit infrastructure. And it may lift average salaries in the tech industry, but a probable cost of living increase will negate growth in other areas. New employees to the area may mean new visitors for the DC tour and travel industry.
Michael Bateman (Senior Producer, Newseum)
Amazon’s arrival will help to shed the ‘government town’ reputation... It will bring new opportunities for DC the Metro in the Tech space, as in more startup and funding opportunities. We are trying to work with the Amazon IOT and we hope that their presence will facilitate a growth with that division.
Dan Cook & Hussein Cholkamy (Founders, Eyrus)
It will bring some tech "cachet" back to the area the way AOL (and before that MCI) did. The main tech that the area is currently most known for is IT security (mostly). It might raise rents across the board and put a strain on infrastructure in the short term. Hopefully the Arlington and Fairfax County planners will be able to get some tax revenues to improve infrastructure and transportation for all. But traffic is going to get MUCH worse in the short term until they really fix Metro.
Graham Gillen (Senior Manager, Accenture)
It will make things more expensive, but it will increase the innovation economy. Startups often spring up around or out of large tech organizations. More tech companies mean more business for agencies like ours.
Chris Lawson (Owner, Current)
HQ2's proximity to DC's halls of power puts issues relevant to innovators, technologist and futurists front and center for policy makers - the unanswerable question is whether this new public/private balance will be leveraged to benefit only an elite few or spread prosperity throughout the region, country and world. Time will tell - I'm hopeful it's the latter.
Alex Cohen (CEO, TwentyTables)
Overall, I think it's a net positive economically but a net negative for people it may impact. In terms of hiring, it may intially mean increased competition and salaries, but in a few years I would hope that the increase in talent to the area would bring more opportunities. It may also bring our company some positive reputation when seeking financing, partnership or acquisition in the future.
Hewitt Tomlin & James Peters (Founders, TeamBuildr)
It will make Crystal City a cool place to go. Amazon will become the second largest employer in the region, and it's sure to affect the culture. I'm not sure what downstream or upstream partners Amazon might contract with, but it would be time to figure that out, and get into that business. I expect Amazon to open up more opportunity for small businesses serving the influx of people.
Amanda Gant (Latino Economic Development Centera)
It will be generally positive - force METRO to make improvements; shift the DC-brand perception to less of a federal city; more dollars for social causes. Provide more freelance opportunities and networking.
Tom Sommers (Founder, Explorations & Insights)
3Advance is an app development company in Washington DC that helps startups, non-profits, and other businesses turn great ideas into beautiful, simple mobile and desktop apps. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you create a better way forward for your company, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.