“Your city sucks! (And so does mine)” – Atlanta and Seattle version

by David Eckoff · 20 comments

Originally published November 2010

Inspired by Joe Stump’s, most excellent blog post “Your city sucks! (And so does mine)”, about tech hubs Seattle, Portland, Boulder and San Francisco, I decided to write a version for Atlanta and Seattle.

One of the things that I liked about Joe’s article: he calls it like he sees it. Unlike most recent articles I’ve read that cheerlead for cities, Joe writes about the good, the bad and the ugly. And his contrarian headline cracked me up.

So I contacted some of my favorite Atlanta entrepreneurs and business leaders to contribute to a list of pros and cons for the ATL. The only rule I gave them: keep it real.


Photo by blairsmith66

I moved from Seattle to Atlanta in 2006 to be an “intrapreneur” at Turner Broadcasting. Otherwise, Atlanta wasn’t on my radar.  A quick compare and contrast: Seattle has more scenic beauty. Atlanta has a lot more violent crime. Seattle has Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Atlanta has Ted Turner and Arthur Blank. Seattle is known for grunge and flannel. Atlanta is known for hip-hop and bling. The tech scene in Atlanta can sometimes be more old school – it’s not uncommon for me to see people in suits and ties at events where on the west coast I would see jeans and t-shirts. All my tech friends in Atlanta have embraced social media, but a surprising number of business people I meet are way behind the curve.  Certainly, the cost of living is far lower in Atlanta – a big advantage in starting a company. People in both cities are super nice. But it’s easier to make friends in Atlanta (Seattle is known for what has been referred to as “The Seattle Freeze“). Do I like Atlanta? Yes, a lot. But I really loved living in Seattle.

The following “pros and cons” for Atlanta, submitted by the contributors, don’t necessarily reflect my views; or the views of the contributors as a group. (But I think many of these are spot on…)


  • Atlanta is less of a city and more of a collection of neighborhoods pieced together. This is awesome for raising a family while still experiencing in-town life.
  • Easy city to live in with a variety of lifestyles available (in city, suburbs, mountains).
  • You get all four seasons (Spring and Fall are amazing). Just enough snow to make it fun. Palm Trees are for wimps.
  • Winter ends in the first of March, and you get warm days throughout the Winter.
  • Cheap housing. A family of four can live in a 4k sq. foot home in metro Atlanta for under $400k.
  • Cheap commercial rents!
  • Great restaurants. More good restaurants come here and stay open despite the tough economy.
  • Vibrant music scene.
  • The Atlanta airport is the largest and busiest in the world which means you can fly directly to most any location – no connections!
  • Fantastic entertainment industry tax incentives have driven a ton of projects and companies to GA.
  • Atlanta is a hotbed for Internet security companies, financial transaction services, energy and biotech startups, and a growing number of social games and digital media startups.
  • Incubators like ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center).
  • World class universities. Georgia Tech and Emory are a mere 5 miles apart. There are over 250,000 college students in the metro area. GA Tech – produces many world-class, top-flight engineers.
  • The city is young and growing. Many young professionals see Atlanta as a great place to begin their careers.
  • There is a strong culture of collaboration and community around entrepreneurs. People lending time, expertise and contacts is the norm.
  • The Atlanta social web community is very giving and caring. Lots of help, sharing, and collaboration. Easy to get ideas, feedback, and inputs when you throw out questions and ideas.
  • A lot of local industry org’s, meetups, and groups.
  • With diligent networking, you can gain access to almost any resource and any person in town.
  • A city of transplants so there are people from all over the country in Atlanta.
  • Diverse economy with 4th largest number of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters in the US and many high tech firms.
  • A large representations of Google, Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle business units headquartered in Atlanta.
  • AT&T Wireless, Turner Broadcasting, CNN, The Weather Channel headquartered in Atlanta… with numerous spinoffs.


  • Summer heat and humidity.
  • Atlanta is landlocked – a 4 hour drive to closest ocean.
  • Allergies. Don’t have them? You will.
  • Violent crime much higher than national average.
  • Traffic can be horrendous, especially for those who live outside the city but work downtown.
  • Cycle? It’s not a matter of if you get hit by a car, but when. Not bike friendly.
  • Growth has led to generic looking suburbs with big box retail and chain restaurants.
  • Metro Atlanta is very spread out. Sometimes the different parts of the city feel very disconnected.
  • The business community is diffuse – there are no true “hot spots” to see and be seen where entrepreneurs and vc’s cluster, (except perhaps StartupLounge and StartupRiot).
  • For a city of of its size, Atlanta has very little early stage venture capital.
  • There is little capital. No idiot can get his stupid idea funded. Smart people with good ideas can.
  • Most wealthy people focus on real estate investing rather than venture/angel investing.
  • There are few if any visionary business technology leaders. No Jobs, no Ellison, no Schmidt, no Zuck. The leaders in Atlanta are all service providers.
  • There is a lack of proven executive-level venture building talent.
  • A lot of wantrepreneurs who talk about startups but don’t start startups.
  • No critical mass of startups within one field. ISS created that somewhat with multiple security spinoffs, but there are few other examples.
  • Some people are very status conscious and materialistic.
  • People wearing Bluetooth earpieces 24/7 are a common sight, more so than other cities. They look like d-bags.
  • Commonly seen “fashion” on men: pleated khakis, tucked in shirt, cell phone holster on hip, anchorman haircut.
  • Sometimes very cliquish.
  • The city is quite segregated (mexicans, white, black, asian, etc are in certain areas and don’t often mix).
  • Metro Atlanta might be a melting pot of differing political views, but come election day – not feeling the melting so much.
  • An abundance of narrow-minded people (as compared with San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Boulder).
  • City government and city schools are not very good.
  • Older (more established) community is motivated by “appropriateness.” If seeking entrance into this community, then need to toe the party line.
  • Passive/aggressive is the dominate social paradigm.


Photo by jarnott

I lived in Seattle for seven years. From the dotcom boom, to the dotcom bust and beyond. A fantastic city to live in. Walked to work every day, with Elliott Bay and snow-capped mountains in the background. The rain never bothered me. A GORE-TEX jacket is all you need. You’ll never meet more people who are more polite and well-mannered. (There’s an old joke about a car approaching a crosswalk and a pedestrian on the sidewalk at the crosswalk. The car motions to the pedestrian: “after you…” The pedestrian motions to the car: “No, after you…” The car motions to the pedestrian: “No, no, after you…” This goes on for 15 minutes, each one trying to out-polite the other.) Tech scene is vibrant, with alumni of Microsoft, Amazon, RealNetworks, and others doing cool stuff. A true pioneering spirit exists.


  • Quite possibly the most beautiful city in the country, with Elliott Bay, snowcapped mountains and a magnificent skyline.
  • Spectacular summer: every day average temperature is 75 degrees and sunny with low humidity. Stays light til like 9:45pm.
  • Lots of very smart people. Easy to have intelligent conversations.
  • Entrepreneurs who have great exits tend to re-invest in the startup ecosystem.
  • Incredible hiking, kayaking, cycling and other outdoor sports.
  • The rain never stops anyone. Most people deal with it. People rarely complain about the weather.
  • Great restaurants. (Gotta disagree with Joe Stump on this one. I miss El Gaucho, Etta’s, Marco’s Supperclub, and many more.)
  • Fantastic seafood.
  • Awesome off-leash dog parks.
  • Casual attitude and dress.
  • There’s nothing like a summer Sunday at Safeco Field for a Mariners game.
  • Rarely snows in the winter.
  • For the most part, open-minded, accepting people. You can be whoever you want to be, and people will generally accept you.
  • Conservation-minded.
  • Great live music scene.
  • Relatively easy to get to Hawaii for vacation and SF for business.


  • Many people who grow up in Seattle never leave, and many know each other from the University of Washington. Can be cliquish.
  • Homeless problem.
  • Higher cost of living than many cities (although lower than SF and NYC).
  • Traffic (if you have to commute). I lived and worked downtown, so this wasn’t a problem for me.
  • Seattle lost its NBA basketball team.
  • Very short summer.
  • Seattle Freeze” (Yeah, I know Seattle natives hate hearing about this, but it’s real.)
  • Earthquakes.
  • Long flight to east coast for business.

Additional links:

Los Angeles
Chris Lea: The City of Lost Angels

Have you written a “Your city sucks! (And so does mine)” article for cities you’ve lived in? Let us know, and we’ll link to it here.


What do YOU think? Are these right? Are they wrong? What are the pros and cons for YOUR city? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Thank you for contributing to the “pros and cons” for Atlanta (in alphabetical order):

  • Selah Abrams, managing partner of Party Republik (Selah has one of the best attitudes of anyone I’ve done business with)
  • Don Addington, Executive Vice President, ORTEC (and fellow Business Launch Competition judge)
  • Michael Blake, Director of Valuation Services at Habif, Arogeti & Wynne and President of StartupLounge (Michael does what he does for all the right reasons)
  • Greg Foster, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Chrysalis Ventures (and fellow Turner alumnus)
  • Jackie Hutter, Chief IP Strategist, The Hutter Group, LLC (savvy IP strategist with great field vision)
  • Chris Klaus, CEO of Kaneva (I could white-board business ideas with Chris for days at a time. And he’s like the Bruce Wayne of Atlanta)
  • Rachel Orston, Co-Founder, CoThrive (Rachel beat me in a startup pitch competition last year. I have a long memory! She’s a fantastic business person and I’ve learned a lot about customer development from her.)
  • David Rudolph, CEO, PlayOn Sports (David recruited me from Seattle to Atlanta. He’s far and away the best leader I’ve worked for in my career)
  • Paul Sansone, CFO, Better World Books (Paul and I started at IBM on the same day way back when. Not only a smart business person, one of the funniest people I know.)
  • Todd Schnick, INTREPID business blogger, marketer + political strategist (Super cool and genuine. Hang out with Todd and you’re sure to become an even better person.)
  • Lance Weatherby (Lance works tirelessly with Atlanta entrepreneurs. One of the really good guys in town.)
  • And me, David Eckoff

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Eckoff November 5, 2010 at 1:00 am

Update from the blog owner Nov 9, 2010, 8:00am ET:

@all: Some readers have chosen to present both sides of a debate about politics and religion here in the comments section. (Itself, an interesting cultural dynamic that I find fascinating and different than some other tech hubs.) Certainly, these are topics people have strong opinions about and I enjoy the lively debate. Having said that, I see the potential for these topics becoming a magnet for vitriol from both sides, in further debate. Therefore I am going to close further comments about republicans vs. democrats, conservative vs. liberals, and organized religion vs. atheists, in this space, to avoid the potential for further debate to get heated or out of hand. All great points for discussion. But my blog is about media & technology, and not about debate about politics & religion. Thank you.


2 Paul November 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm

You had me going until you got to “narrow minded people”. What on earth does that mean?

I am guessing whoever said that is on the opposite side of the political spectrum from your typical Atlantan. And rather than agree to disagree, decided to lob a classless insult.


3 David Eckoff November 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

@Paul: Could be. There were a few political zingers written by contributors that didn’t make it into the final version, due to space.

But I didn’t see any reference to politics in that particular bullet point, so perhaps you’re reading more into it than there is? Maybe be open-minded about it. :) Could just be about open-minded vs. narrow minded with nothing to do with an attack on politics.

There are narrow-minded people in every city. I’m curious what you and others think: setting aside politics for a moment, do you think on the whole, that folks in Atlanta are more open-minded and tolerant of other people’s views than folks are in SF, Seattle and Boulder? The same? Or less open-minded and tolerant of other people’s views than folks are in SF, Seattle and Boulder?


4 Lance Gleason November 5, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Good article Dave. Paul, the “narrow minded people” comment is dead on for many of the parts of town that are OTP (outside the perimeter). You could decide to categorize that as a entirely political statement but I think that it goes beyond that.

Many that fall into that category tend to be of the politically conservative mindset, and happen to be pretty big bible thumpers. It is not uncommon to see people voting for a candidate based on a red herring issue such a abortion. But from a startup perspective that mindset doesn’t just stay at home, it also carries over into business to the point of some companies, such as Chick-fil-a actually putting bible verses in their employee handbook and mission statements.

The problem is the business culture that comes with this. There is a fear in that culture. A fear of the unknown, a fear of things that don’t fit into the norm. So you see policies such as strict dress codes, and crazy polices that stifle the creativity and innovative thought that is at the heart of tech innovation. Yet the very nature of tech, especially startups is to push those boundaries into that of the unknown. That closed mindedness has been a challenge to overcome, and is why many of us are trying to create a critical mass to change that.


5 Mike Schinkel November 6, 2010 at 5:27 am

@Lance – Very well said.


6 Paul November 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

If I understand you correctly, religous people equals narrow minded. Maybe we can move this to the “pro” side?

You must really hate the 1500 people who go to the annual high tech prayer breakfast. :-)


7 Rob Kischuk November 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm

This opinion of “religious political conservative = business culture of fear” seems to be a very narrow-minded view of a large cross-section of Atlanta.

A more open-minded view would suggest that a startup eco-system isn’t predicated on a critical mass of atheist democrats.


8 David Eckoff November 9, 2010 at 11:34 am

@rob: I liked the article on your blog against Amendment #1, very well articulated. How were the writers of that Amendment able to get away with such leading phrasing, that arguably all but assured passage of the amendment? I’ve never seen anything like that, anywhere!



9 Melanie Brandt November 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Additional Atlanta Pro – Access to bandwidth and fiber. Metro Atlanta consistently ranks in the top five U.S. markets for bandwidth and fiber access, with two of the countries largest fiber routes – North/South and East/West – crossing in Atlanta. 56 Marietta/telx is to the communications world what Hartsfield-Jackson is to air travel – Atlanta has an IP node for almost every major international and North American network.


10 Mayberry November 5, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Umm I think you left a few cons off of seattle:

1. People generally rude to anyone visiting from CA
2. Rains. All. The. Time.
3. Depression is not uncommon.


11 David Eckoff November 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

@Mayberry I’m gonna have to disagree with you on all three – hat trick!

1. In my experience, people from Seattle were rarely rude. But perhaps you experienced different. If so, I’m sorry to hear that!
2. False, it does not rain all the time.
3. I’ve heard that, but I don’t know if the evidence backs it up. A quick google search brought up this ranking of the 101 most depressed cities. Seattle isn’t even in the worst 25 cities. (Ironically, Atlanta is, go figure!) I’ll grant that this research is 5 years old… if you can find anything newer that is more credible, please do present it! And of course, “lies, damn lies and statistics”, so who knows. But in my experience in Seattle, depression was not, “not uncommon”. :)


12 Steve French November 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm

@Paul and @David – I’ve found Atlanta to be the “blue island in the red sea” , i.e. a liberal intown surrounded by a conservative downtown. Where you live is a fairly reliable indicator of your politics.

And @David – the Seattle homeless are markedly worse than Atlanta? Wow.

And I would put active tax and licensing competition amongst the metro Atlanta counties as a noticeable plus. It doesn’t make it that much easier for a tech company directly, but it helps medium size non-tech companies, which opens up lots of opportunities for tech companies to draft off of them.


13 David Eckoff November 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm

@Steve – I know what you mean. Sort of like Austin and Texas, or Chapel Hill and North Carolina. But I suppose it depends on how one defines Atlanta – it is such a large and diverse area!

There’s definitely a homeless problem in Atlanta, as well. In my experience in the two cities, I found Seattle to be a bigger problem, but that could be because I lived in downtown where I saw things up close ever day. The neighborhood I live in now in Atlanta is in-town, but totally different.

Good points on the tax and licensing issue. I hadn’t considered that, so thanks for raising it!


14 Roy Russo November 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm

One small correction re: Atlanta funding:

“Smart people with good ideas can.”

Should be:

“Well-connected people that play golf at the country clubs where VCs hang out with any ideas can.”

We raised money from a San Francisco VC, and it was a smart move for us. Atlanta unfortunately boasts risk-averse socially inbred VCs.


15 Sean November 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I think “every day is 75 degrees and sunny with low humidity” and “very short summer” need to be mentioned a lot more prominently together. Or your memory is fooling you about the degree to which the summer is short. I’ve been in Seattle for about 12 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stretch longer than a couple of weeks where it’s truly sunny and 75 degrees. Summer is about July 5th-Aug 31, but it’ll frequently dip to grey and 65 within that time period. For me, this is a massive drawback and outweighs many of the benefits. YMMV.


16 David Eckoff November 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

@sean, I do remember that oddity that summer didn’t start until July 5… what a freakishly consistent stat that was. You are correct, every day was not 75… some days warmer, some days cooler. Good catch on that. I do miss the Seattle summer, though, especially compared with the Atlanta summer.

Best thing I just read in about Seattle weather: “On average, it rains in Seattle at least 50% of the time”. Ha… that sounds like something Yogi Berra would say!


17 Chuck November 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm

You did mention it, but it should be put up top for an Atlanta con.
Several city goverments, including city of Atlanta, are corrupt to the bone and steal resources left and right. The integrity of officials on school boards, city councils, corrections, etc. is absolutely lacking. It is a failing city from that standpoint. And beyond violent crime, all sorts of crime in and around the city center ranks with some the highest in the country. Many hustlers in Atlanta to the city’s detriment.


18 MC May 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm

The City of Atlanta has really turned into a mega crime and hell hole place.
So much government corruption and mismanagement.

It seems there are several murders a day on the news.
Much of it has been due to hoodlums moving in from out of town, most relocated when Katrina hit New Orleans, now all that riffraff ended up in Atlanta.

Don’t dare be downtown outside after dark or will get mugged or shot.
And if park anywhere legal or not will get a parking ticket. 3 of 5 tickets are bad, City of Atlanta admits due to faulty meters and the parking police giving tickets anyway even when time is left on meters. The ticketing is outsourced to Park Atlanta, they try to falsely give tickets in order to produce more revenue for themselves and pressure from the City of Atlanta to boost the city’s revenue. The City is discussing now to raise the fines so they can make more money.

We need the Federal government and the FBI to investigate this and the Federal government to make it illegal for other governments to do this, write you congress person !!!!

Many times people are getting booted (getting worse that Philadelphia) for no reason, even for people legally parked.

This City is a cesspool of crime and most of the people now are not native to the area, most are moved int the area within the last 5-10 years and has gone downhill really fast. No more southern hospitality here, all crime and bad attitude (Yankees go home).

Traffic is a nightmare. DOT people seem to get their fake engineering degrees from K-Mart (old southern joke).
Airport sucks, not very well designed, takes forever to get from the plane, to get baggage and then to wherever need to go. Atlanta police are terrible, they just wait to beat up on women just standing around for no reason, harass everyone, can’t even pull up to the curb for a second without having some police officer with hand on gun just hoping do something so they can shoot you.

I give this City the BEST rating, for wanting to puke and never return!


19 David Eckoff May 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

While Atlanta has its share of problems (like every major city has), I find quite a bit to like about Atlanta and enjoy living here.

Some bigger picture perspective that applies not just to cities, but to life in general: “What’s wrong is always available. But so is what’s right.” Whichever you look for, you will find. So look for what’s right, and you’re not only sure to find it, you’re sure to have a much different life experience.


20 Irin April 28, 2014 at 2:32 am

Thanks, great post! I wonder how does the these areas compare? Is Seattle area traffic much worse than in Atlanta area and what’s considered normal commute time? I lived in Atlanta and the worst case was 1 hour one-way in rush hour, and I don’t think I want to experience this again on a daily basis. But I am afraid it can be even worse in Seattle, especially if living in surrounding smaller cities.

And as for the rain… I’ve heard Summer in Seattle is gorgeous, but what about rainy season, is it really that bad and it rains non-stop? In Atlanta showers are common throughout the year but it’s not a big problem really and the roads get dry within the hour or so. I think I can tolerate cloudy skies but not sure if I can tolerate constant rain.


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