If you want to be at the forefront of video social networking, Seattle is the place to be, not Silicon Valley.

A month ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced an “awesome” launch coming out of the company’s growing Seattle office, which turned out to be Facebook’s video chat link up with Skype.

About the same time, Google trial-launched its broadside against Facebook, the social Google+ service. One of the most arresting features is Hangouts, a service that lets up to 10 people video-chat simultaneously. And it’s designed by a bunch of engineers just the other side of Lake Washington in Seattle.

Hangouts is the creation of a team run by Chee Chew, engineering director at Google’s 500-person Kirkland office, who has been at the company for four years after 14 years at neighbors Microsoft.

Comparisons are inevitable, but Chew says Hangouts is aiming for a different sort of user than Facebook and Skype. It’s not really video-conferencing, he says – with a set time, leader and agenda – it’s more like hanging randomly with whoever happens to be around.