Year in pictures: Tech giants, startups, politics, soccer and more put focus on Seattle in 2019

Scenes from Seattle tech, clockwise from top left: Amazon buildings going up; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; the Riveter wins “Startup of the Year”; Sounders FC celebrate MLS Cup win. (GeekWire Photos)

It was another big, busy year in tech around the Seattle region, whether it involved the largest companies or the scrappiest startups.

GeekWire was there to cover the innovation and ideas, conduct the interviews, watch new office buildings take shape and old ones fall to rubble. Opposing sides battled politically, and a tech-backed soccer team battled its way to another championship for the city.

Dreams of the next big thing had companies and workers setting their sights as close as South Lake Union’s bustling tech hub, on the cloud floating above it all or as far away as the moon and deep space.

Keep scrolling for some of the stories of 2019 that captured our attention — and images we used to try to help capture yours. We look forward to sharing more in 2020.


At home in Seattle and on the other side of the country, Amazon dominated a variety of news cycles. The tech giant cancelled plans to build part of its so-called HQ2 in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood, and also announced it was moving a key division and thousands of employees out of Seattle and across Lake Washington to Bellevue. CEO Jeff Bezos even made big news on the personal front as he and his wife MacKenzie Bezos announced they were divorcing after 25 years.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, right, with Amazon Devices chief David Limp, left, and SVP of corporate affairs Jay Carney, right, speaking with reporters at the Amazon Spheres in Seattle in September. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stands atop the Spheres at the company’s headquarters in Seattle with a sign that reads “Thank You” on July 16 as a way of offering his appreciation to employees for another successful Prime Day. (Instagram Photo via @JeffBezos) Read the story.
Amazon’s main headquarters campus continued to take shape over the summer in the Denny Triangle area of downtown Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
An Amazon Restaurants food delivery bag sits on the counter at La Cabaña Restaurant in North Seattle in June shortly after Amazon announced it was shutting down the 4-year-old service. (GeekWire Photo / John Cook) Read the story.
An Amazon Prime truck heads north on Interstate 5 in Washington. The company’s push to one-day shipping for Prime members has led to a massive investment in delivery infrastructure, from planes to trucks to vans. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
Erica Rosenberg, an early copy editor at Amazon, stands in the footprint of what was once Jeff Bezos’s 1990s-era office on the fourth floor of the Chromer Building in downtown Seattle. The building is slated to become a condo tower, erasing a piece of the tech giant’s early history. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.


Microsoft’s resurgence in 2019 began with a look back, as it knocked over a historic part of its Redmond, Wash., campus to make way for a major new redevelopment that will position the tech giant for its future on the Eastside. GeekWire sat down with CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith to get more insight into where the company is headed.

Microsoft employees watch one of their team members operate the claw on a piece of heavy equipment as it tears into Building 1 on the company’s Redmond, Wash., campus on Jan. 8. The demolition of the original campus “X-Wing” structures marked the start of a major campus refresh for the tech giant. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks with GeekWire at the company’s Redmond headquarters this fall. He touched on Microsoft’s approach to a growing wave of nationalism around the world, addressing employee concerns about their treatment inside the company, and explained why Microsoft is betting on a new category of dual-screen devices. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Bellevue aerial photo
From the seat of a real Cessna aircraft, GeekWire’s Alan Boyle took in the Woodridge neighborhood of Bellevue, Wash., in September. The same view can be seen virtually in Microsoft’s “Flight Simulator” as the classic software got its first full refresh in 13 years. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Read the story.

Related: GeekWire founders Todd Bishop and John Cook also recapped the extraordinary year for technology and innovation emerging from and impacting Seattle and the Pacific Northwest during the latest GeekWire Podcast. Listen for their insights here:


While President Trump continued to poke at Amazon and Jeff Bezos on Twitter, Democratic candidates looking to replace Trump came to Seattle to seek supporters and fire up crowds. And Seattle politics were again an interesting show to watch, especially as it related to Amazon’s attempts to upend the City Council and oust Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at a rally on Aug. 25 in Seattle with an estimated 15,000 people in attendance. The senator who has talked tough about breaking up big tech, avoided the Amazonian elephant “in the room.” (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop) Read the story.
Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, the startup entrepreneur from New York who vowed to be the first president to use PowerPoint during a State of the Union, holds a rally at Gas Works Park in Seattle on May 4. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop) Read the story.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who briefly entertained the idea of running for president, speaks at an event in his hometown of Seattle on Jan. 31 as part of a book tour. (GeekWire Photos / Taylor Soper) Read the story.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant protests corporate spending in Seattle elections at Amazon’s headquarters. The company’s $1.45 million effort to get a more business friendly council elected backfired in November. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg) Read the story.

Office space

Movers and shakers were definitely moving and shaking up the Seattle region’s real estate scene. Online travel giant Expedia ditched Bellevue and moved across Lake Washington to take over and redevelop a huge campus on the Seattle waterfront. Tech giants such as Google and Apple wanted their own bigger piece of Amazon’s prime South Lake Union surroundings. And F5 Networks bucked the campus trend by moving on up, into a gleaming new skyscraper at the southern end of the city.

A view of a skybridge between buildings at Expedia, where the online travel giant opened a massive new waterfront campus in Seattle this year. The $900 million move from a Bellevue, Wash., skyscraper to 40 acres in the Interbay neighborhood represented a huge culture shift for the company. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
F5 Networks’ bid to wow customers and employees was punctuated with a move to Seattle’s most dramatic new skyscraper. The centerpiece of the office space in F5 Tower is a central stairway that connects 28 floors and 1,500 employees. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
With a major statement at Amazon’s doorstep, the new Google Cloud campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood opened on Oct. 3, further increasing the search giant’s footprint in the Seattle region. The new offices were under a grim spotlight earlier in the year when a crane collapse killed four people. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Apple’s Kristina Raspe, Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland, and Mayor Jenny Durkan speak at Apple’s new Seattle campus at 333 Dexter on June 24 as another tech giant doubled down on Seattle and the neighborhood around Amazon. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg) Read the story.
After several years of planning, fundraising, and construction, the University of Washington opened The Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering in February. With one of the top computer science programs in the world, the school is now positioned to double enrollment capacity. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper) Read the story.

Space and science

The race for space showed no signs of slowing down in 2019. Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin unveiled a lunar lander and the moon itself showed off during a much-photographed red-hued eclipse. Read aerospace and science editor Alan’s Boyle’s complete recap of the Year in Science.

Bezos and Blue Moon lander
Jeff Bezos shows off a mockup of the Blue Moon lunar lander during an event in Washington, D.C., on May 9. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Read the story.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos raises his arms (and the robotic arms they’re linked to) at the re:MARS conference in Las Vegas on June 5. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Read the story.
Lunar eclipse
The “Super Blood Wolf Moon” eclipse on Jan. 20 lived up to the hype as photographers across the country captured images of the celestial phenomenon — including over Mt. Baker in Washington. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
New Horizons celebration
Surrounded by children as the new year turned, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern and Ralph Semmel, director of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, celebrate the moment when the New Horizons spacecraft flew past Ultima Thule. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Read the story.
TerraPower test assembly
GeekWire got an inside look in August at TerraPower, the decade-old startup founded by Bill Gates that is hoping to invent the future of nuclear energy. This panoramic view of TerraPower’s laboratory shows a full-scale fuel assembly test stand at the center of the frame. The circle that’s painted on the floor indicates how big the nuclear containment vessel would be. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.

Startups and stops

A pizza robot plopped pepperoni on a pie right before our eyes, but other high-profile startups failed to rise beyond initial expectations. We saw the closure of high-tech football helmet maker Vicis, high-priced headphone creator Human, scientific wellness startup Arivale, and online beauty brand Julep, among others.

A slice of startup life? Freshly sliced pepperoni is delivered via conveyer belt onto a pizza by a food automation robot developed by Seattle-based Picnic. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne) Read the story.
A display inside the Vicis headquarters building in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The high-tech football helmet maker ran through $85 million, laid of more than 100 people and was looking for a buyer through receivership near the end of 2019. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Transportation around Seattle took a hit in December when car2go’s Share Now announced that it was pulling out of the city. Tableau’s Alex Johnson, a user of the car-sharing service, was ready to drive off in a vehicle he found parked in the Fremont neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.


With an ownership group rooted in tech, the Seattle Sounders FC maintain a strong connection to that community, and they rewarded their fanbase with another MLS Cup title when they topped Toronto in November. The Seattle Seahawks paid tribute to late owner Paul Allen by making him the 12th inductee in the team’s Ring of Honor. And Seattle’s baseball stadium took on a new name and hue as T-Mobile Park became the home of the Mariners and magenta made a splash.

Seattle Sounders FC players, coaches and family members celebrate at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Nov. 10 after the professional soccer team — with an ownership group loaded with big names in tech — won its second MLS Cup title in three years. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Liosta) Read the story.
Hip-hop star Macklemore, left, chats with Seattle Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. at the MLS Cup in Seattle on Nov. 10. Macklemore is a member of the team’s new ownership group. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Seattle Sounders and Reign FC players have a little fun on stage at the unveil of their new Zulily branded jerseys on Jan. 17. The soccer teams switched from Microsoft X-box to the Seattle e-commerce company. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Jody Allen, right, sister of Microsoft co-founder and former Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, helps raise the 12th Man flag and pump up the crowd before a game at CenturyLink Field on Oct. 3. Paul Allen was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Doug Baldwin smiles on stage at the GeekWire Summit while discussing life after football. The Seattle Seahawks wide receiver — who always entertained us with his geeky/tech pursuits — retired after eight seasons. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)
Seattle Storm CEO Alisha Valavanis speaks with GeekWire editor Todd Bishop at The Playbook event on Nov. 7 at The Ninety in Seattle. Valavanis shared her thoughts on everything from pay equity to what lessons from sports can be applied to startups. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
T-Mobile Park
The T-Mobile Park signs went up before baseball season started as the home of the Seattle Mariners switched names. Fans were seeing lots more magenta as the signature color of the Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier took over at the ballpark. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Students from Foster High School in Tukwila gather around Russell Wilson and Ciara and the special King County Library cards featuring the pair on Feb. 8. Wilson’s foundation was announcing a new “Dream Big” teen empowerment campaign. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.

Center stage

At GeekWire events throughout the year, we welcomed some of the biggest names in tech and innovation to share their stories around a broad base of subjects. Startup founders, scientists, sports heroes, unicorn creators and more joined us at the GeekWire Bash, GeekWire Cloud Summit, GeekWire Awards, GeekWire Sounders Day, GeekWire Summit and other happenings around Seattle.

USAFacts founder and LA Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer pumps his fist at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Oct. 8 while discussing everything from leadership lessons from the NBA to Microsoft’s latest devices. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire) Read the story.
GeekWire co-founder John Cook cheers on the Elevator Pitch winner, finalists and judges on stage at the GeekWire Summit on Oct. 9. Maria Colacurcio of Syndio Solutions took the title for Season 2 of the business concept competition. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire) Read the story.
In his new book “Tools and Weapons” and during a fireside chat at the GeekWire Summit, Microsoft President Brad Smith urged the technology industry and government to come together to address the looming threats of artificial intelligence and machine learning. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire) Read the story.
A panel on leading successful, innovative organizations featured, from left, Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington; DreamBox Learning president and CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson and Marilyn Strickland, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, at the GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire) Read the story.
The Riveter CEO Amy Nelson accepts the “Startup of the Year” award at the 2019 GeekWire Awards in Seattle on May 2. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
CEO Kieran Snyder and some of the Textio team on stage at the 2019 GeekWire Awards in Seattle after winning AI Innovation of the Year. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott speaks at the 2019 GeekWire Cloud Summit in Bellevue, Wash., on June 6, where Hundreds of cloud developers, operations experts, startup founders, and venture capitalists heard from some of the leaders that are pushing cloud computing into the next decade. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Seattle Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer, left, speaks on stage with Sounders forward Will Bruin during GeekWire Sounders Day on Sept. 18 on the rooftop at Qualtrics, overlooking Puget Sound and CenturyLink Field. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper) Read the story.


Bill Gates stood in line for a Dick’s burger in Seattle before he sat down for a GeekWire interview and we were intrigued by both circumstances. Melinda Gates also joined us to talk about her new book and her insights around tech and philanthropy. Other geeks and entrepreneurs wowed us with robots and their own intriguing projects.

Bill Gates
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates talks about everything from climate and nationalism to the loss of Paul Allen and what his favorite Seattle hamburger is during a wide-ranging GeekWire interview in February. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Read the story.
Melinda Gates, right, discusses her book “The Moment of Lift” with GeekWire’s Monica Nickelsburg. She also opened up about the tech industry, equality, and the three women who changed her life. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop) Read the story.
University of Washington doctoral student Ethan Gordon is fed a strawberry by a voice-controlled robotic system designed to help people who are unable to perform essential tasks live more independently. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne) Read the story.
Family DNA and emerging science helped solve a 52-year-old murder case in May. Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, left, presented a flag from the Seattle Justice Center to Chris Galvin, brother of 1967 Seattle murder victim Susan Galvin, alongside his wife Kathy and Homicide Detective Rolf Norton. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Young girls competing in the FIRST LEGO League GeekWire Robotics Cup hold up their robot at the CenturyLink Field Events Center in March during the GeekWire Bash. The spirited competition attracted 200 kids from across Washington state. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Flanked by pillows representing classic Macintosh computers from 1984, left, and 1998, right, Throwboy founder Roberto Hoyo strikes a very Steve Jobs pose while holding his grandmother’s sewing machine. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Pernille Bjorn, left, and Daniela Rosner created AtariWomen to share the stories of pioneering women in computer science. The research project at the University of Washington profiles women who helped design and build Atari games some four decades ago. (GeekWire Photo / Lisa Stiffler) Read the story.

More fun stuff

We geeked out over nature’s flashes over Seattle during a rare lightning storm as well as the man-made flashes from New Year’s fireworks booming off of the Space Needle. The Red Arrows of the UK’s Royal Air Force also did a colorful fly-by, and north of Seattle in Everett, Wash., we got ready to fly out of a new passenger terminal at Paine Field. It was just some of the stuff that wasn’t strictly tech, but that deserved a second geeky look.

Weather geeks and photographers packed Kerry Park in Seattle for a rare lightning storm that flashed over the city on Sept. 7. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The Space Needle lights up as fireworks explode on New Year’s Eve. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The Red Arrows aerobatic team of the UK Royal Air Force fly over Seattle and the Museum of Flight during a colorful visit in September. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
The plaza in front of Seattle City Hall was crowded in May with people curious about stand-up electric scooters and the probability that the transportation option is coming to the city. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Life-size “Minecraft” characters, or Mobs, are scattered throughout a new exhibition celebrating the popular video game at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture in October. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Water arch at Paine Field
Fire trucks shoot out sprays of water to form a celebratory arch for the first Alaska Airlines jet to take off on a scheduled passenger flight from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on March 4. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Read the story.
Chris Lindsay, right, operates his BB-8 droid at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Saturday during a builders club event put on by Star Wars fanatics. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Read the story.
Rescue dog and social media influencer Fenrir demonstrates proper use of DogSpot’s smart dog house as the startup bet that people would want to use a high-tech solution to leaving their pup outside grocery stores in June. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne) Read the story.