Austin Tech Downtown

Scott Francis
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Nice article in the Statesman’s new 512tech feature on the wave of tech companies locating downtown.

Google is part of a wave of tech firms that are choosing downtown offices for their Austin operations. In Austin’s competitive tech sector — there are more than 5,400 technology companies in the metro area and about 115,000 technology sector workers, according to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce — companies see downtown offices as a way to attract and retain talent.  

“It’s simple: Developers want to be downtown, and we didn’t want not being there to restrict us from recruiting them,” said Robert Alvarez, chief financial officer of e-commerce software maker BigCommerce. The company opened a separate engineering center at 800 Brazos, across town from its headquarters in far Northwest Austin. “Location is one of the first things candidates ask about, and now we can show them a really hip open office space, and all the places they can walk, and they want to be there.”  

I think the real demand driving downtown is the ability to live and work within a short radius – so short that you might not need a car or bike to get to work.  But it is also just having close proximity to your friends, who may work at other locations in the same vicinity.  Being able to meet your friends for lunch, or drinks, or after-hours without driving and parking is a big deal to young professionals.

Not to be outdone, however, there’s an unreported renaissance in tech going on in North Austin.  There are probably more tech workers, if not tech companies, in North Austin, and new live-and-play arrangements that put restaurants, bars, shopping, and apartments within walking distance of offices (and with ample free parking nearby). If anything, the downtown model is being replicated in other areas of Austin – and that’s a good thing. 

At BP3 we’re inbetween. Close enough to downtown to make it an easy commute, but also close enough to North Austin to make it an even easier drive in the morning or evening to catch up with friends or live the Austin lifestyle.  There are so many good restaurants in the area today compared to 10 years ago, I can’t make a short list of recommendations, I need pages of notes. 

I want our team to go out and socialize and be part of the community – it is one of the great benefits of living in Austin.

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