Bellevue-bashers, check out what’s cool about the Eastside

(Story by Jacob Demitt originally appeared in the Puget Sound Business Journal)

Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht grew up a Seattle kid with all the usual “perennial snobbery” toward the Eastside that often comes with living on the west side of Lake Washington.

But he’s grown now and his tone has changed as he leads one of Bellevue’s most successful and fastest-growing startups.

If you stand outside Limeade’s downtown Bellevue office building, you can see the headquarters buildings for two of the biggest names in the city’s tech scene — one that already announced it will move to Seattle, and the other that’s rumored to be considering it.

But Albrecht isn’t worried about the Eastside. He says there are still plenty of reasons to call it home.Expedia bought a Seattle waterfront campus, and Valve is reportedly looking at both Eastside and Seattle locations.

Real estate consultants suggested Seattle locations when his company moved offices in search of more space at the end of last year, but Limeade never really considered that an option.

Bellevue’s Blucora moved its headquarters down the street two years ago. CEO Bill Ruckelshaus said lower rent would have been the only reason it would have considered a move to Seattle.

T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert said moving headquarters isn’t something his company really ever talks about.

Even growing startup in Bellevue says it has no problem finding talent outside the hip neighborhoods in Amazon’s backyard. That company has grown to 60 employees, from 20, and plans to get to 100 by the end of the year.

“We’ve never lost any hire we wanted because we’re in Bellevue,” CEOSean Muller said. “The most important thing is the company, the culture and what they’re working on.”

Albrecht had a laundry list of reasons he chose Bellevue, including how it’s more diverse than Seattle, has solid public transportation and is becoming more densely populated every year.

Albrecht said he loves both Bellevue and Seattle and doesn’t think there’s any kind of supremacy battle going on.He even credits Limeade’s high employee retention rates in part to the “more stable” place the company calls home.

The kind of worker who wants to live in one of Seattle’s hottest ZIP codes and walk to work might not take a job at Limeade — and Albrecht is OK with that.

“I think we’re willing to hire mature, mid-career professionals who are — frankly — living a suburban life,” he said. “We’re not optimizing only for the 21- to 28-year-old cheaper employee. We’re looking for people of all ages and a diverse mix of backgrounds.”


By the numbers: Bellevue

134,445: Population

37.8: Median age

$101,540: Median household income

38.6 percent: Speak a language other than English at home

62.2 percent: Hold bachelor’s degree or higher

8: Average GreatSchools rating out of 10 for Bellevue School District

Source: King County Assessor’s Office and Census Bureau