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WTIA Basic Membership Is Free for Tech Companies

We’re excited to announce that WTIA basic membership is now free for tech companies. It’s never been easier to become a WTIA member and gain access to valuable resources and connections to help you grow your business. 

If you’re a tech company that’s new to WTIA and you sign up today, your basic membership is free. Membership runs from January 1 to December 31, so for all WTIA tech members on the old payment plan, your free membership will start on January 1, 2022. 

Basic membership includes:

  • Invitations to register for relevant public and private events
  • Member pricing for ticketed events for all employees
  • Cascadia Blockchain Council programs
  • Benefits consultations
  • Access to subject matter experts & thought leaders
  • Useful industry news and events delivered to your inbox
  • Email briefings direct from WTIA subject matter experts on topics like DEI and public policy
  • Timely member surveys, ensuring you have a voice in what we build
  • Inclusion in WTIA Member Directory

Value-Add Benefits and Services

Basic members get access to an exclusive, password-protected membership portal that serves a repository of key information, industry research, a directory of members, and more.

You’ll also get access to value-added services designed to help member companies attract and retain top talent — including Health Insurance, our DEI Office, a multi-employer 401(k), and tech apprentices. Note that additional fees may apply.

Making WTIA basic membership free ensures that all tech companies and their employees have access to peer networking, subject matter experts, government officials, education leaders, and information essential to help your company grow and thrive. If that sounds enticing to you, please join WTIA today

You can also become a member at the partner level (minimum investment is $2,000). As a partner member, you’ll enjoy all of the benefits of basic membership, plus:

  • Recognition on WTIA’s website for one year
  • Exclusive event invitations
  • Custom benefits based on sponsorship level
  • Leadership consideration:
    • Policy Steering Committee
    • Blockchain Council Steering Committee
    • DEI Steering Committee
    • Startup Committee
    • WTIA board

Frequently Asked Questions

Profound changes often lead to profound questions. With that in mind, we asked Michael Schutzler, WTIA CEO, to answer some of the questions you might have about this new free membership model:

Q: Why is WTIA basic membership free, and why now?

A typical trade association offers two primary value propositions for those who participate:

  1. Peer-to-peer networking for primarily professional objectives — how do you connect with your peers and work together to get things done?
  2. Creating a coalition of companies to advocate for their interests and the interests of the tech sector as a whole.

Most tech companies aren’t willing to pay for peer networking. Until recently, most tech companies also didn’t see the value in paying for advocacy. 

About five years ago, WTIA started forming coalitions of companies for reasons other than advocacy. WTIA now offers a lot of value outside of advocacy that tech companies will pay for, such as healthcare, a 401(k) plan, and to help recruit and develop diverse technical talent through our Apprenti program. Tech companies pay for these services because they directly help build their business. More recently, more tech companies have begun to pay for advocacy as well, because they face an increasingly hostile regulatory environment.

Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and something wonderful happened: The cost to deliver on the basic value proposition of a trade association, which is peer networking, cross sector collaboration, and high-value events, became almost zero. That’s because everyone can participate on Zoom. There’s no need to pay for a venue or catering or parking. There are no transportation or logistics issues. 

Since our cost to deliver the basics of a trade association went to zero, we decided there’s no need to charge for basic membership anymore. We said, let’s invite everyone in the tech industry to join. We’ll help you network with peers, allow you to participate in our events, and we’ll teach you about all the high-value services that we have, like our healthcare plans or public policy advocacy. 

Q: What happens when we “graduate” from this virtual world?

WTIA has decided not to “graduate” from the virtual world because we believe it’s too limiting to create an in-person-only event. It limits the geographical reach, requires transit time, transportation, parking, a large venue, security, and health safety measures. 

That said, there will be an opportunity for us to create “experiences,” for example, a member tennis tournament or a racial bias retreat for senior leaders. There will be a cost for those kinds of in-person events, of course. The virtual events will be free to members.

Q: Why is free basic membership good for WTIA and its members?

For the past 45 years, we have had aspirations to serve the entire state of Washington. But the truth is, tech companies in Spokane rarely joined because they had to come to Seattle to be involved. Now, we are able to effectively serve any tech company anywhere. 

What’s interesting about that is we now have tech companies from other states joining. And frankly much of what we do isn’t only about Washington, it’s about tech. So companies are joining from Tennessee and Illinois and Oregon and other places, because they can and want to participate in programs like our DEI Office, Blockchain Council, or 401K. 

Q: Why do non-tech companies have to pay for membership?

Our mission is to help create a strong, sustainable tech sector in a thriving community. Put simply, our focus is to serve the tech industry well. 

Of course, there are some companies who aren’t tech who lean heavily into tech. Nordstrom is a good example. If they want to join us because their future is determined by the tech sector, even though they’re in the retail sector, we won’t say no to them. But this is a tech trade association, so we’re going to require them become a financial contributor and help pay for the programs we’re building. 

Similarly, a lot of legal, accounting, and business consulting firms want to join because they want access to or serve tech companies. They can join, but only as financial contributors. 

The business model that we are using is the mobile app game, Words with Friends. You download Words With Friends and you get to play with anyone. It doesn’t cost you any money, and you get to have lots of fun and compete. The only thing you have to deal with is an occasional ad. And if you want to win, you can buy power ups. You don’t have to, though. You can just play and have fun.

That’s the model for WTIA membership. You can join the tech trade association if you’re a tech company and you can do all the fun stuff — the peer networking, virtual events, and access to the repository of high value information —  for free. And then if you want healthcare, for example, you need a power up to access that feature. 

What does free membership mean to the tech companies that WTIA serves?

Going back to the core value proposition of a trade association, it’s peer networking. What comes out of that is professional relationships and information necessary for you to succeed in your job. This is a fast-moving industry, so you’re able to get current information that’s accurate and helps you make better decisions. 

By making membership free, more companies and more professionals will be participating. The main asset for a trade association is the people who are engaged in it. So the more people that are engaged means more opportunity for highly valuable professional connections that will get you what you’re looking for. And it becomes self-fulfilling: The bigger it is, the more people who want to participate in it. By making it free, we’ve eliminated the economic friction to join, which means the asset grows larger for all. 

Where do we go from here? What does the ideal future of WTIA look like?

This is a fantasy, but in the future, WTIA is no longer just the Washington tech industry association. I hope WTIA is a coalition of all the tech companies globally that embrace collaboration. We then become an organization made up of people and companies who love to build brilliant apps, devices, and services while also actively working together to build excellent cities and schools.


  • Michael Schutzler

    Michael Schutzler is an entrepreneur, engineer, science geek, and first generation immigrant. He is the CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA). Before joining the WTIA, Michael led the merger of Livemocha – a community of 17 million language learners – with the popular education software company Rosetta Stone. He also built into the first profitable social media application, transformed online marketing at, and grew the online gaming business at RealNetworks to become a global leader. He teaches part time at the University Of Washington Foster School of Business, serves on several boards, and is an investor in Flowplay, YouSolar, Koru, Moment, 9 Mile Labs, Alliance of Angels, Keiretsu Forum, and Social Venture Partners. As a successful Internet entrepreneur, lead angel investor, and veteran executive coach, Michael has personally invested in twenty-four companies, served as coach and advisor to more than 100 executives, and has raised over $50M in private financing.

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