Most of the HQ2 finalist cities have a similar tech ecosystem to Amazon's home city, according to an analysis of last year's registered user Stack Overflow traffic. Differences between cities are only a few percentage points in cosine apart, but these differences are still statistically significant, according to Julia Silge, the data scientist who compiled the Stack Overflow analysis, in a statement provided to CIO Dive.
More than half of the cities are within a 2%-3% cosine similarity to Seattle, with Northern Virginia and Washington just edging out Atlanta, Newark and Philadelphia. Miami and Indianapolis are the most different, showcasing around 93% similarities.
In comparison to Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Toronto have the highest proportion of mobile developers, and Raleigh and Columbus have the highest proportion of data science and machine learning developers.
HQ2 selection will be based off a variety of factors — especially incentives offered by candidate cities — but understanding the finalists through the lens of individual technology cultures can perhaps shed light on the process.
The city Amazon picks will undoubtedly have a robust tech workforce because AWS is key to the company's success and profitability. "Amazon could certainly find developers to hire in any of these North American cities, but the specific flavor of what each is like is different," said Silge.
Silge's personal experiences in cities including New York City, Salt Lake City and the Bay Area have shown her firsthand the differences in tech ecosystems.
"The flavor of tech culture in each of these spots is different, and the differences extend to the actual languages and technologies that developers use," said Silge. "I see it when I interact with people who code, and we see it in our data, from data on questions and answers to traffic data to data about jobs."