Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photo courtesy Heisenberg Media Used Under Creative Commons Attirbution

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photo courtesy Heisenberg Media Used Under Creative Commons Attirbution

In their earnings reports issued on Thursday, Amazon and Microsoft added more evidence to what everybody knows about Seattle’s economy: Cloud is King.

The companies’ shares fared differently yesterday — Microsoft was up, Amazon down — but both clarified that enterprise cloud computing will be the major drivers of growth in the coming years. Amazon Web Services pulled in $2.4 billion in revenue, up 69 percent year-over-year. Microsoft for its part posted $6.3 billion in cloud revenue, but that total includes sales from more than just its Azure platform, so it can’t be directly compared with AWS.

Microsoft and Amazon are the two clear leaders in enterprise cloud, an industry projected to top $53 billion by 2020. Amazon wants AWS to function as one of three pillars — alongside Prime memberships and an unknown third sector Jeff Bezos is chasing — that support the company, while Microsoft is treating cloud as the trunk of a tree from which all its other computing goals will branch as more and more businesses switch to Azure.

Microsoft planted that tree at an opportune time — dying PC sales can act as the fertilizer.

Have fun, Bellevue landlords

20141001_BellevueDowntown_290_smallIt could soon be a good time to lease downtown Bellevue office space. Here’s the good news for customers (and not so good news for landlords), according to a Colliers International report: Downtown’s vacancy rate is 12 percent, up from 8 percent a year prior. And that number’s probably not going down any time soon — with new office towers shooting up and Expedia’s imminent departure, Colliers predicts Bellevue’s vacancy rates could shoot up to 25 percent by 2018.

Even in a best-case scenario, the glut of supply will lead to a 16 percent vacancy rate, Colliers said. But if Microsoft doesn’t renew leases in 2018, it might join Expedia in the downtown exodus. A 10 percent vacancy rate is considered a balanced market, and it appears Bellevue might not hit that figure again this decade.

Innovations in game design education

The video-game industry has a huge presence on the Eastside, and plenty of employees up here come from the vaunted University of Southern California game-design school. Over the last week, USC showed that it’s not just a talent factory — it’s an innovative education program as well.

One unique characteristic of the program is that its student body is mostly women, a significant trait in a sector that has a reputation for being unfriendly to women. Games themselves, like many other media, are male-driven, and USC is out to change that. As professor Tracy Fullerton, director of USC Games, told the Los Angeles Times:

We live in a culture where the first impulse is to have a male main character, to assume a male gaze on the screen. That’s got to change. Young women need characters to have as role models. … It’s important. The more that games become a key medium, the more important it becomes for this to happen.

USC is also innovating economically by starting a publishing label within the department. The college will surely tread carefully — it has a rocky history with including students in lucrative endeavors. One would imagine Fullerton won’t take too many lessons from Pete Carroll.

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