Archive of ‘opinion’ category

I’ll be voting Yes on I-594. Background checks for gun ownership should be a no- brainer by now.

I will be voting “YES” on Initiative 594 November 4, and I hope you will join me.

yes594It is patently obvious that we should require background checks before a citizen is allowed to purchase a firearm. I am a gun owner and a lover of the outdoors myself, and I have personally donated to support the initiative. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (@Yeson594), a coalition of concerned citizens and organizations working together to stand up for common-sense solutions, has sponsored I-594.

This isn’t about the right to bear arms. It is a small but important step toward reducing gun violence by requiring background checks on people who buy guns, regardless of where they buy them. The vast majority of Washingtonians agree that background checks should include all firearm sales. Currently, this is not the case. Why our legislature has not yet passed legislation to reflect the will of the people is curious, and incredibly disappointing.

Zillow had a much-loved software engineer named Justin Ferrari get caught in a crossfire at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Cherry Avenue two years ago. He was driving his mini-van. His kids, who he’d just picked up from the community center pool, were in the car. So were his mom and dad. He died in his father’s lap. Gun violence is an epidemic, and I support making our citizenry safe in their own neighborhoods.

Thanks in large part to the honorable civic activism of Nick Hanauer (who has been instrumental in rallying people to support this initiative with votes and contributions), I-594 actually stands a chance of passing. But only if everyone else who supports responsible gun ownership gets out their vote.

I-594 is democracy at its best. It reflects the will of the people, makes common sense, and can save lives.

I hope my fellow citizens will join me in voting yes on I-594. Join the movement at

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Embarrassed in Seattle

I have called Seattle home for more than two decades and my wife and I are raising our children here.  There’s a lot to enjoy and be proud of about Seattle – the City Council’s vote on ride sharing earlier week this isn’t one of them.

Seattle is a different city from when Microsoft imported me shortly after college in 1991.  Seattle then was best known for Grunge rock, which i happily ruined my eardrums on. Since then technology has completely transformed our lives, and our culture of innovation makes our community a haven for entrepreneurs and investors to create visionary startups that become lasting and enduring brands.embarrassedinseattle

While Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing startups may not be headquartered here, the local impact and benefits are not inconsequential.  I recently shared my own experience and week-long test of Uber-only transport.  But, ride-sharing isn’t just about the convenience of consumers finding a ride in minutes, it about the livelihood of these drivers who are now operating their own small businesses and becoming entrepreneurs in their own right.  I hear nothing but glowing reviews of Uber from the drivers and how the service has had such a  positive impact on their lives – schedule convenience, income, and safety. (I recently heard a driver’s story about how, as a taxi driver, he’d had a knife to his neck when a fare demanded he be taken to a location without paying. His words: “Uber changed my life.”).

The spark of an idea, the power of geo-located mobile devices, and an archaic and highly inefficient, supply-constrained taxi system gave way to the creation and rise of Uber and other ride-sharing services. I have no doubt the City Council’s short-sighted decision will be overturned in time. I am just extremely disappointed – and more than a little embarrassed – that it was Seattle (the land of legalized marijuana and same-sex marriage) that failed to recognize the future is here, and the past – well, isn’t.

Last year when I spoke at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, I talked about the seeds of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem starts with good government. I boasted that while not perfect, our system in the U.S. provides a supportive and rational system that enables innovation.   I used Seattle as an example of a vibrant ecosystem and progressive pioneer in policy that many model and follow. Apparently, Seattle’s City Council didn’t get the memo.

We’re All Better Off When We’re All Better Off

Fellow Seattle-based entrepreneur/venture capitalist, Nick Hanauer, has been been poking the hornets nest of 1%ers recently with a Bloomberg Op-Ed he authored which argues that we capitalists are not job creators, our customers are.  If Nick had singled out high-finance types, well, okay, those guys are everyone’s somewhat-deserved favorite target.  But Nick couldn’t be talking about me, a founder a several companies including Expedia and Zillow, that now employ thousands of people, could he? Read More…