Steel City bends into Seattle mold

Seattle P-I business columnist has a good column today on Pittsburgh's technology community. In "Steel City bends into Seattle mold," John writes:
Could the smokestack- belching image that has defined Pittsburgh for decades eventually give way to a high-tech city that more closely resembles Seattle?

Pittsburgh venture capitalist Chuck Dietrick knows it won't be easy, but he thinks the Steel City is slowly making the transformation to a place where innovative software, semiconductor and life science startups can thrive.

Dietrick (from local VC Birchmere) and Jay Katarincic (from local VC Draper Triangle) argue that the Pittsburgh region is moving in the right direction but would benefit from . . . more venture funding. No surprise there; raising local money and attracting outside VC interest continues to be a struggle. But money alone won't solve Pittsburgh's problems. Cook continues, quoting someone we know:
"Steel was so big here, and steel was so important for so long, that the region never had the need to develop the culture of personal entrepreneurship that comes so naturally to many communities on the West Coast," said Madison. "Business in Pittsburgh meant 'Big Business,' and 'Big Business' was the job of men who went downtown in the morning and ran the world. ... There's a CEO mentality to Pittsburgh, not an entrepreneurial culture. And I think that the mentality holds the region back economically."


6 Responses to "Steel City bends into Seattle mold"

C. Briem said... 2/03/2006 2:49 PM

That Ben Chinitz was on to something.

Anonymous said... 2/03/2006 3:24 PM

The WaPost writes about Seattle today:

Discusses boom-bust cycles of the city and other issues.

Jimmy Zewalksi (Carrick) said... 2/03/2006 5:51 PM

I've been in Pgh for 35 years...and everyone's been talking about new economy stuff for easily that long.

I hope that someday I can see Pgh return to greatness. But I ain't holding my breath.

Mike Madison said... 2/03/2006 6:45 PM

He sure was. But "Pittsburgh has known the answer to its problems for decades" plays well in academic journals but poorly in the press.

Amos_thePokerCat said... 2/06/2006 7:36 PM

"Obviously there is no Microsoft, but we have done OK," he [Katarincic] said.

Really? By what measure?

Amos_thePokerCat said... 2/06/2006 7:46 PM

Whoa. Just noticed at the bottom of the article a link: "For more information on Seattle-area startups or venture capital firms, visit"

Wow, a whole section in the newspaper web site about start ups, and venture capital. Must be nice. There is even a newspaper blog on startups by one of thier two (2!) VC specialized reporters. Wooo. Scary. Wild wild west stuff.

Gee, no wonder why SEA last year had 65 startups raising $436M. PIT had 12 raising $45M in 2005. In 2004, $83M was raised, and $113M in 2003. Hmm, I don't like that trend line.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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