CEO Says Billion-Dollar Seattle Company Fleeing to Phoenix to Escape CHOP Zone Unrest, Poor Quality of Life

By Craig Bannister | June 23, 2020 | 2:45pm EDT
(Getty Images/Jason Redmond)

Smead Capital Management, which handles about $1.5 billion in accounts, is leaving Seattle, Washington and relocating in Phoenix, Arizona, CEO Cole Smead announced Monday.

Smead is fleeing to Phoenix, in part, because of “the unrest that has taken place in the city of Seattle,” CEO Smead told Phoenix radio station KTAR. Activists, anarchists and vandals are currently occupying a six-block section of Seattle they have dubbed the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone, previously called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) when they first seized the area and declared independence from the United States.

The company is also leaving Seattle due to the uncertain business environment companies will return to when all coronavirus shutdown requirements are lifted – and because he wants his employees to enjoy a better quality of life than Seattle offers, Smead told KTAR:

“My colleagues can pick the socio-economic rung of life that they want … live their lives, build their households and have a family if they’d like.

“Where we’re coming from just wasn’t like that.”


“My biggest concern for Seattle was what the business community is going to come back to, and what kind of businesses are going to come back for customers.”

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Smead appeared to contradict his remarks to KTAR, issuing a statement reacting to news reports of his Monday interview. "The decision to relocate from Seattle to Phoenix was not a reactionary move caused by any of the events of the past several months," Smead said in the statement provided to Yahoo! News."Put simply, nothing happening or being reported in the news right now had any weight in our decision to relocate from Seattle to Phoenix," Smead added. 

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