Austin, TX

Is Austin, Texas, the Next Silicon Valley?

Anita Durairaj

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Despite the devastating pandemic, Austin’s tech hub is continuing to grow as of 2021. It has the potential to be the next big place for tech. Could it beat the renowned Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area?

An article by Business Insider states that it is one of the hottest relocation hotspots for tech talent and most of the talent is coming in from the San Francisco Bay Area. 

There are several reasons why Austin is more attractive than the Bay Area for tech. In fact, now Austin has its own name “Silicon Hills” which is complementary to the Bay Area’s “Silicon Valley.”

Here are some reasons why 2021 and beyond could see Austin dominating the tech scene.

A History of Tech in the Area

Unlike a lot of other places, Austin does have a long history of tech in the area. That history goes back more than 60 years. 

In the 1950s, the Austin Area Economic Development Foundation was founded. The foundation’s goal was to bring in companies that were manufacturing electrical and scientific equipment into the area. The plan enabled some big-name companies to move into the area in the 60s and 70s. Some of the earlier companies include IBM, Tracor, Texas Instruments, and Motorola. 

In 1977, the University of Texas set up a think tank to help Austin grow as a technology center. This enabled Dell to move into the area. At the same time, the Austin Technology Incubator was launched and small businesses flourished. 

Today, what makes Austin especially attractive for tech workers is the plethora of companies to choose from. Atlassian, Apple, Dropbox, and even Elon Musk’s Cybertruck factory is being built in Austin. Add other prestigious names like Google, Facebook, and Oracle to the mix and Austin becomes a hotspot for tech talent.

Cost of Living

My brother lives in the Bay Area and he just bought a very average 3 bedroom home for $2 million. No, he is not an actor in Hollywood. He works in the tech field and he does make a good income but even he realizes that he might be in over his head with this sort of mortgage.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Austin is so much cheaper than the Bay Area in every way possible. In general, the cost of living is about 40% lower in Austin than it is in a place like San Jose.

It is not surprising that we are having an exodus of Bay Area talent to Austin. Added to this, the pandemic has many tech workers staying at home and working from their home offices. There is no requirement to be stuck to one location and they could easily relocate to a different area such as Austin during this time. 

A Unique and Welcoming City

Austin is a unique city in the whole of Texas. It has been described as a,

blueberry in the tomato soup of Texas — Eric Webb

It maintains its unique character because it leans left in a red state. With a liberal and progressive culture, Austin is ranked as one of the best LGBTQ cities in the US. It is also attractive to millennials and young professionals. It is currently ranked as one of the top US cities.

While there are so many interesting and unique aspects to Austin, it has still not reached the level of Silicon Valley. There is a chance it might never be able to catch up to the Bay Area but one thing for sure is that it will certainly give the Bay Area a run for its money. 

Sources: Business Insider, Culture Trip, 9TO5Mac

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