The NYTimes Covers Austin's Startup Community

Post by
Scott Francis

Yes, Austin startups have attracted their own NY Times article.? And it is a good one.? But we wouldn't be who we are if we didn't have to nitpick a little bit here and there...

The city?s high-tech area adopted the name ?Silicon Hills? in the 1990s.

You know, back when Silicon meant chips, and Austin made lots of them.? Keep that in mind when you hear about Silicon Valley and Silicon Hills - to my knowledge these are the only two "silicons" that actually produced chips in quantity.? When I first moved to Austin, I recall that the valley produced 80% of chip volume in the world, and Austin accounted for something like 8% - the next biggest quantity for a single location.? You could hear ads on the radio every day looking for people to work in the semiconductor FABs and test labs in town.? It was a significant part of our employment and culture of tech in Austin.

Both Silicon Valley and Silicon Hills have migrated to less chip-focused pursuits, but Austin still has some great chip companies in town.? For example, AMD, Samsung, Calxeda, Silicon Labs, Cirrus Logic, Intel (design center), Spansion - and some that were acquired by important high tech companies.

?It?s a little hard to draw a line directly from music to the start-up community, but music is a part of the character of the city, part of the brand if you will, and that makes it an attractive place to start a company and easier to recruit talent,? said John Thornton, general partner at Austin Ventures, the oldest and largest venture capital firm in the city.

Just as it is hard to draw a direct line from great weather in Silicon Valley to startups - it isn't a cause, but it is a factor.? Culture - of the right sort - helps sell Austin to those who might move here, and to those who might startup a tech company.

The online publication PandoDaily, which covers technology start-ups, recently questioned whether Austin could live up to its hype, charging that the city has had just a few stand-out tech exits and that its consumer-focused sector was having a tough time finding success. [..]

Yet there have been notable successes. Two Austin start-ups had successful initial public offerings recently, with Bazaarvoice raising $114 million in February 2012 and HomeAway?s offering raising $231 million in June 2011.

Add the recent RetailMeNot IPO to the list.? Not to mention Chuy's IPO (not tech, but why is it all about tech?).

The Texas Film Commission, which administers the state?s incentive program for the video gaming industry, estimates Austin has more than 100 game studios. Since 2007, video game companies in Austin have received almost $10.3 million through the incentive program.

I don't know how many studios there are - but I am never surprised when someone names one I haven't heard of before.? (I am not plugged into the gaming business)

They also do a decent job of touting Austin's incubators and associations:

Various other associations, work spaces, accelerators and incubators have also spurred the growth of technology. Those include the Austin Technology Incubator, part of the University of Texas? IC2 Institute; Center61; Startup Texas, a regional branch of the Startup America Partnership; Tech Ranch Austin; the Austin Technology Council; and Austin TechLive.

There are at least 15 incubators and accelerators in the city and the Austin Technology Incubator is often cited as one of the strongest in the nation.

All in all, great coverage for Austin's startup community, and proof that it is deeper than just one feel-good story.



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