Tech Hub or Colony?

  • November 1, 2012
  • Scott

KUT News asks the question: Is Austin a Tech Center or a Tech Colony?

It starts with a predictable premise:

Almost every day we hear about out-of-town tech companies opening branch offices in Austin.  

What does that mean? Could the next Facebook, Google, or Apple start and grow in Austin? Will Austin even be the next Silicon Valley? Or are we a “tech colony,” a place where global companies can find a ready supply of highly-trained tech workers who will work for less than workers in California or New York?

But the short answer is, Austin is a little bit of both.  The lower cost of living and tax-friendly environment (as well as liberal local community) attract bigger tech corporations.  Not to mention the local talent base.

People forget that sometimes these companies that start an office here end up moving the center of gravity here as well.  It happened at Vast, and by some accounts, Indeed.  And to dozens of smaller companies that probably won’t make the news – and Austin draws a lot of startups that relocate here as well (many of them thanks to the efforts of people like Josh Baer).

We do have some stalwarts based in the area: Dell, National Instruments, AMD, etc.  There are also signs of homegrown companies emerging in their own right (HomeAway, BazaarVoice, Freescale, Silicon Labs, Solarwinds, and many more in the wings: Vast, Spredfast, Socialware, ).

It doesn’t really matter if any of these become the next Google or Facebook.  Austin doesn’t need wins on that scale. Austin needs wins on the scale that it is already getting – HomeAway and Bazaarvoice (and Solarwinds, and others) going public successfully and then doing well post-IPO.  That’s the secret sauce that Austin needs to keep the momentum going.

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