Photo courtesy of GeekWire.

It’s a sign of things to come, at least according to GeekWire.

The Seattle-based startup publication that covers science, technology and innovation is setting up a temporary second home in Pittsburgh next year in part because of their belief that we’re a front-runner for their hometown buddy Amazon’s HQ2.

“As we were looking around for HQ2, we considered a variety of factors, from the strength of the tech eco-system to engagement of local leaders,” GeekWire Co-founder and Editor Todd Bishop told NEXTpittsburgh. “One factor was the chance of each city we considered landing Amazon H2. Pittsburgh has to be included among the serious contenders — if you look at the strength of the engineering programs at Pitt and CMU and the Amazon connections with Pittsburgh as well. Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s Consumer CEO, whom many believe is the heir apparent to Jeff Bezos, is from Pittsburgh, and Brian Olsavsky, CFO has Pittsburgh roots as well.”

While that’s not enough, he says, he thinks other factors favor Pittsburgh as well. As for the recent announcement of Alaska Airlines’ Pittsburgh to Seattle flight? “I think there’s a case to be made that that’s not a coincidence,” he says.

In the article announcing GeekWire’s temporary HQ move to Pittsburgh, Monica Nickelsburg, GeekWire’s Civic Innovation Editor, writes: “That’s right, we’re bringing our unique brand of tech, science and innovation news to Steel City, where we’ll be covering the innovation economy with daily news stories, video features and in-depth profiles. GeekWire reporters and editors will cycle through our temporary HQ2 in Pittsburgh for the entire month of February, immersing ourselves in a city that has reinvented itself from industrial powerhouse to technology hub.”

Bishop says, “We’ll be there in waves, three to four initially, and some will stay while others will relieve them. We’ll have three to five at all times.

“We’re pretty sure we’re going to be in East Liberty, not sure exactly where,” he adds. “We’re looking at renting out a full house Airbnb. Part of the fun is we’re flying a bit by the seat of our pants.”

Their decision to explore another city was motivated by Amazon.

“GeekWire has spent the past six years growing alongside Seattle’s booming tech industry, covering national news from the Pacific Northwest perspective,” writes Nickelsburg. “A few months ago, we decided to branch out and explore another emerging city. Inspired by Amazon, we put out our own request for proposals and received submissions from cities all over the country, from California to the Rockies to our nation’s capital.

GeekWire co-founders John Cook, left, and Todd Bishop unveil the HQ2 project at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire.

After narrowing the search to four finalists — Cincinnati, Denver, Pittsburgh and Raleigh — they based their decision on readers’ votes “and staff’s enthusiasm for the journalistic opportunity in Pittsburgh.”

None other than Andrew Moore, the dean of the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, submitted the successful bid for GeekWire HQ2. “Things are so exciting here at the moment, with five dueling self-driving car companies, our largest and most highly sought-after cohort of students coming through CMU, University of Pittsburgh massively expanding its technology focus, and then all these new startups,” Moore told them.

“We can’t wait to cover Pittsburgh’s amazing transformation into a world leader in the innovation economy,” writes Nickelsburg. “Interesting stories abound in Pittsburgh — from the cutting-edge research labs of Carnegie Mellon to the startup spaces of East Liberty to leading smart city initiatives. As we know from our years in Seattle, the growth of the technology industry can also bring massive challenges, and we’ll be exploring those, as well. We look forward to telling a wide range of stories and connecting with civic, tech and business leaders in this changing city, while also indulging in the city’s food renaissance and cheering on the Penguins.”

Tracy Certo

Tracy is the founder and Editor at Large of NEXTpittsburgh which she started in March 2014 and sold in December 2020. She is passionate about making Pittsburgh a better place for all and connecting people to do the same.