They say everything is bigger in Texas. Austin is one spot on that map that is making that a reality in technology. Austin continues to flourish as the Silicon Valley alternative in the south. It’s a fascinating transformation for a town that was once only widely known for artists and musicians. It has been taking place for some time and there have been a number of reasons behind it. Today’s Austin is rich with startups and venture capital and is building into a giant technology hub. It was once driven from semiconductor and hardware manufacturing, but has shifted along with the times. Austin is a very open city that is a natural climate for technology and entrepreneurs.
With a plethora of idea incubators about the town, there is no reason to suspect anything less than the fact that the startup industry is thriving in the town. Nothing beats collaboration and there is a repeated notion of this widespread culture of innovation through technology meetups and conferences throughout the calendar.
Follow the money
Between 2006 and 2010, reports are that 2.1 billion dollars in venture capital investment in the Austin area. This year started out with a report that 100 million in venture capital was rolled out in the first week of 2013 alone. Like many reports from Texas, the economy shows many strengths. One indicator shows a jobless rate for Austin at 4.9%. This is a thriving economic climate and that has many companies looking at starting and expanding into this area.
One thing that helps drive that are favorable economic business conditions. Texas is well known for the low tax situation for individual and corporations. Operating costs are also favorable, with low electricity and utility rates throughout. A low cost of living overall for the workforce also helps the cause. Austin also has a very unique culture that has something for everyone, whether you are a cyclist, artist, into history, or whatever.
Incubating the future
Another interesting factor is the available talent in Austin. Having a pipeline of talent elsewhere in the country outside the Bay Area requires a rare mix of factors. Take for example how the University of Texas at Austin embraces technology whole-heartedly with a number of direct and related technology incubators throughout its programs. The city of Austin aggressively fosters technology activity as well through a number of sponsorships, programs and relations. A growing base of eager talent is constantly emerging from the ranks of this climate. Many within this population look at their prospects in leaving Texas and it just doesn’t add up.
A number of larger corporations have moved to embrace this opportunity as well. At one end of the spectrum, tech giant Dell is known for its Austin roots, but in recent times has moved from a high manufacturing base in the town to more of an engineering base. Other companies are following suit. A few weeks ago I wrote about cloud hosting provider Codero which expanded into a new Austin location. Just yesterday I picked up a story about an emerging company called Pivot3 which provides enterprise-grade VDI appliances for the mid-market. There are growing examples of this migration and emergence of tech daily.
This environment continues to transform and its main focus is on ideas- capturing that spirit and culture and transforming it into a winning formula for success. It’s a bit early for a preview, but one of the top events in Austin that sets the pace on a number of fronts is the South by Southwest festival which starts each spring. These events feature a lot of tangent themes, including technology, but is really about innovation and captures the spirit of Austin perfectly. When you look at the changing business and economic climates across the country, it is pretty reasonable to expect that more and more tech stories will emerge from Austin in the center of the former Republic of Texas. While I am certainly not the first to suggest that Austin is the new Silicon Valley, nor the thousandth, there just seems to be a special mix and synergy of things that continue to emerge that prove this is happening.
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