In Case there were any Doubts about Austin's Economy

Scott Francis
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A series of articles to kick off the new year show that Austin is a bright spot still…
  • Just today, OtherInbox announced it is selling to ReturnPath for an undisclosed amount.  Based on the smiles from the OtherInbox team, this was a good sale, at a good time, for the team.  Looks like a great fit with the parent company. It marks another success for Joshua Baer, who (along with a few others) has really re-energized the startup scene in Austin.  Interestingly, part of the value ReturnPath perceived in the deal was getting a good footprint in Austin, TX:
“The decision to acquire OtherInbox was based on its technology and its broad customer base, but separately we’ve been talking about where we might expand operations, and Austin was on that list,” Forman said. “The cost of living, the tech scene and the talent pool were very attractive to us. The opportunity to get that as part of the bargain with OtherInbox is awesome.”
  • Socialware just landed an investment from the CrunchFund.  I’ve known Chad Bockius since ’99 and I’m impressed at how he’s been able to get visibility for the company with investors outside of Austin (note that Austin Ventures is also an investor in the company, however).
  • The Austin office rental market is tightening up.  This trend has been going on for some time.  Locally, in our office building, this is noticed as I have to drive one extra floor up in the parking garage to get parking these days.  There just isn’t any vacancy.  Prices are moving more gradually but they are starting to move.  I saw a lot of growing firms in Austin reach for bigger space in 2011, with designs on growing headcount, and a belief in the stability of their businesses.
  • There are IPOs on tap for Austin as well.  Bazaarvoice is the most likely candidate with a strong growth track record and a strong product offering.  Chuy’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant chain based in Austin is also planning to go public to fuel expansion (if a location comes your way, two recommendations:  DO order the “macho burrito”, and DO order the tres leches for dessert – but find a friend to share it with).  3 other companies are up to bat this year, having already filed for an IPO.
  • All of this really has me looking forward to the Angelou Economic Forecast.  I took a look back at my notes from last year, and it looks like he pretty well nailed the economic forecast for Austin and Texas.  Not only does AngelouEconomics provide some of the best economic development consulting, it is also a local Austin startup-made-good story itself.  Quite a local success story.
Here’s to 2012!