By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Five years ago, Geekdom set up operations on the 10th floor of the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio.
Geekdom was the brainchild of Graham Weston, former Chairman and co-founder of Rackspace and Nick Longo, founder of CoffeeCup Software. They wanted to create a technology hub in downtown San Antonio to attract the best and brightest minds in the technology industry to dream up new ideas, launch companies and create the next 10,000 new jobs for the city.
Since then, the collaborative technology coworking space has expanded and grown tremendously, said Lorenzo Gomez, its Chief Executive Officer. He spoke Monday to more than 100 people attending a Geekdom State of the Ecosystem event at Geekdom. He released a 24 page report at the meeting detailing the impact Geekdom has had on the city.
And he joked that none of it would have been possible without pizza, beer and the 1.7 million cups of coffee Geekdom members have consumed since its launch.
Today, Geekdom, which now occupies the Rand Building on Houston Street, reports it has 1,200 members, 500 member companies and it hosted 500 events in 2016, according to the report.
Geekdom has also served as the catalyst to ignite San Antonio’s downtown tech district and it has helped to bring together the technology community, Gomez said.
To date, 800 people have gone through 3 Day Startup programs held at Geekdom. It has also hosted the Techstars Cloud program, which recently shut down. Companies in Techstars Cloud raised nearly $247 million, but Gomez said Geekdom doesn’t count that venture capital investment in its overall tally since many of those companies are not based in San Antonio.
Geekdom has also worked closely with SA Tech Bloc, a community organization focused on fostering the city’s technology industry and new job creation. And it has worked with Trinity University, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Venture for America to put students to work at local startups.
To do all this, Geekdom has partnered with the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, the City of San Antonio Economic Development Department and Bexar County’s Economic Development Office.
Also, in the last five years, Geekdom-based companies have raised $68.8 million in venture capital. This year, San Antonio tech startups are expected to post revenue of $35.7 million and they have created 658 new jobs with a median salary of $65,010, well above San Antonio’s median salary of $46,317 in 2014.
And all 115,000 square feet of the Rand Building is fully occupied, Gomez said. Geekdom is the largest tenant, followed by Google Fiber, Open Cloud Academy, WP Engine, Build Sec Foundry, Tech Bloc and the Rivard Report.
Geekdom is also at the heart of the new and developing San Antonio Tech District which includes a handful of other buildings around downtown with a couple dozen other tech companies including Grok Interactive, Codeup, Parlevel, Merge VR and more.
Technology trends moving forward for Geekdom include more Cybersecurity startups like Infocyte and Build Sec Foundry, tech companies with ties to Mexico setting up operations in San Antonio like Parlevel, Yupicall and CodersLink, startups that are led or founded by former Rackspace employees such as Jungle Disk, Promoter.io and Help Social and companies establishing offices in San Antonio to scale for growth like WP Engine.
San Antonio is also building up its talent pool through programs like Open Cloud Academy, Codeup, the Iron Yard and Austin Coding Academy. The San Antonio Independent School District with funding from HEB and the 80/20 Foundation is also establishing a high tech high school called the Centers for Applied Science and Technology downtown to provide even more talent.
The reason tech startups are so vital to the future of San Antonio’s economy is because historically small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs since the 1970s, according to U.S. Small Business Administration data, Gomez said.
Geekdom dedicated its State of the Ecosystem report to Alan Weinkrantz, an early member of Geekdom and a champion for the technology industry in San Antonio. He died tragically last summer in a car accident in Israel.