Artificial intelligence as represented by an electronic brain in a lightbulb.Washington is known the world over for its tech industry. Some 18,000 businesses – from industry juggernauts Amazon and Microsoft – to small two-person startups are located around the state.

But when it comes to getting some love from the media for its infinite contributions to artificial intelligence, the state gets short-sheeted by the likes of Forbes, Axios and Bloomberg in their annual rankings.

Not that it matters. Washington business tend to do rather than brag. Ballyhooing about how great you think you are takes a lot of time and energy, energy better spent on creating insanely great tools, products and services that maximize the potential of artificial intelligence. 

For many companies across the state, artificial intelligence has been part of their core work for some time, whether in university research labs or with product teams creating the next generation of Microsoft Office products. 

Seattle should be “viewed as one of the very best centers of excellence for AI,” said Matt McIlwain, managing director at Seattle VC firm Madrona.

These high-profile rankings put a ton of weight on the number of startups, but is that really a good indicator of innovation or overall sector health? The failure rate of startups is far higher than the success rate. We all learned that lesson during the tech meltdown in the 90s. What really matters, says industry watchers, is who’s delivering the goods today, not making promises about tomorrow. 

While the Bay Area continues to take top billing for AI and machine learning companies, the Puget Sound is in the thick of the hunt for the “next big thing” in artificial intelligence. The city ranks second for AI talent density, which measures how many workers have an AI specialty. And research heavyweights such as the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence are known the world over for their groundbreaking research in this promising field. 

“At the end of the day, what matters for these startups is hiring great talent and delivering great products, and I think Seattle shines above most other cities outside of the Bay Area here,” said Vivek Ramaswami, a partner at Madrona who is based in San Francisco.

In addition to cloud computing giants Microsoft and Amazon, other companies maintain large engineering centers in the state, including Meta, Google and Apple, which employ thousands of AI researchers and engineers. For its part, the Allen Institute has spun out 20 companies focused on artificial intelligence. 

Smart business owners looking to tap a pool of top-tier AI talent might be wiser to skip all the hype in headline-making ranking lists and look at what’s going on in Washington State instead. With 350,000 tech workers to choose from, the odds are good that your own company will rise to the top of the rankings that matter most – revenue, market share and profits.

Read all about it in Geekwire…