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Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

Category: Companies
July 12, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Startups and speed bumps as pot culture meets Seattle tech

  Paul Gambill’s favorite thing to do when he’s high is to listen to the Seattle Symphony. “There’s nothing like hearing an 80-piece orchestra play a rich, Romantic-era piece,” the 26-year-old mobile-apps project manager tells me. We were sitting at Ballard Coffee Works, where a drink made from beans enjoys a sophistication Gambill craves for the…

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April 19, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Using a phone when you can’t hear or speak? Here’s who makes it possible

Priya May has been the voice of hundreds. “You have a customer using sign language contacting you with the Purple VRS system,” May, 31, spoke into a headset to the man who picked up at Seattle’s MOD Pizza. “I’ll be interpreting this call for you, OK?” “Sure,” the man said, kind of delighted, and from May’s…

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Comments | More in Column, Conversation, People, Seattle

March 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Will cyberattacks destroy the invention economy? Seattle-area analyst sees danger ahead

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you say you care about IP theft? IP what? IP is intellectual property. It’s the core of invention — the thing that gets protected so that good ideas become good products that make good money and inspire more good products down the road. If you’re like me, the…

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Money, Security

March 15, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Sitless in Seattle: Standing desks give workers a leg up

The office of the future might look a little funny. Peek over the rows of workstations in the marketing department of Tableau Software in Fremont, and you’ll see dozens of employees leaning into their screens. It’s a crisp, modern office setting that looks like any other. Except that a good fourth of the workers are standing…

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Habits, People, Seattle

February 15, 2014 at 9:46 PM

Hack your life: Pioneering Seattle event makes habit change a group effort

“We’re here to change habits, change lives,” James Norris told 100 people gathered on the first floor of Pioneer Square’s Impact Hub. “You guys are all part of a movement.” It was the kickoff to Spark Weekend Seattle, a first-of-its-kind, two-day event Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 that got my attention as soon as…

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Comments | More in Column, Events, Habits, Seattle, Tech Devotion

November 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Scarecrow Video: How an endangered Seattle icon could win you back

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

"We don't need to be a viewer's only or even main source of movies, but we feel what we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming," Lynch wrote in an email. "It's just that people have forgotten us or don't understand what they're giving up by letting us go."

REWIND YOUR WAYS: “What we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming,” Lynch said. “It’s just that people have forgotten us or don’t understand what they’re giving up by letting us go.”

I hadn’t given any thought to Scarecrow Video in months, maybe years, when I heard the news a couple weeks ago.

As you’d expect, Seattle’s world-famous video store is in trouble. Rentals have dropped 40 percent in six years, despite efforts to draw people in with coffee, beer, screenings, all kinds of deals and even bar trivia, and owners are wondering if it’s time to fade to black.

The culprit, of course, is change. Video-store rentals hit their peak, $8.5 billion, in 2001. Last year, we spent as much on those rentals as we did in 1984, a measly $1.2 billion, according to analyst IHS.

Blockbuster Video, founded in 1985, operated 1,700 stores when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010. This month, parent company Dish Network said it would close the 300 remaining company-owned Blockbuster stores next year.

Scarecrow owners Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough put out a call for help in October. Scarecrow is no Blockbuster; it has collected 118,000 titles and a lot of love. The store’s fans will step it up. Supporters of independent businesses will stop in on principle.

But what about the rest of us? I’ve done nothing but rent or stream from Netflix, Amazon.com, Hulu or iTunes for years. Same with most of my friends. I’d love for Scarecrow to stick around, but online convenience rules. Is there something I’m missing?

I went in last week to find out.

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Comments | More in Art, Column, Disruption, Entertainment, Habits, Seattle

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