austin_sanantonioI moved to San Antonio in 1989 from Beaumont, Texas.
In San Antonio, I covered the nascent high technology industry including a pioneering, but now defunct company called Datapoint and about a half dozen spin off companies formed by former Datapoint executives.
Back then, Michael Dell was still building his PC company, founded in 1984 in Austin. It had gone public in 1988 when the personal computing industry was still in its infancy and was poised to take off.
The Semiconductor Manufacturing technology consortium, known as SEMATECH, set up operations in Austin in 1988. It focused on solving problems for the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
Central Texas, known primarily for microchip and PC manufacturing, was just a blip on the radar of the high-tech industry. In fact, people jokingly referred to the area as Silicon Hills, a reference to the region’s attempts to emulate the highly-successful Silicon Valley.
And even back then, people in both cities talked about the need to collaborate and work together to build Central Texas into a regional technology powerhouse. Members of the Greater Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council, founded in 1984, met regularly to address issues facing the region. I distinctly remember a big push to get a high-speed rail established between the two cities. But the newly founded Southwest Airlines largely quashed that movement because the airline saw the railroad as a threat to its business.
Today, Austin is booming with all kinds of technology startup companies and incubators and accelerators like Capital Factory, Tech Ranch and DreamIt Ventures. Dell is now a giant company. National Instruments is another home-grown tech powerhouse. And Visa, Apple, General Motors, Union Pacific and others have all set up innovation centers in Austin and announced major expansions.
Just down Interstate 35 about 75 miles to the South, San Antonio is also booming. It has a thriving biotechnology and cyber security industry. It also has Rackspace, a web hosting company with more than 4,500 employees and $1 billion in annual revenue and Geekdom, a collaborative coworking space downtown that incubates high tech startup companies.
So this region is booming. And Austin and San Antonio are not just competing with Silicon Valley, Boston, Denver, Boulder, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other technology centers nationwide. This region is in a globally competitive race with countries like Taiwan, Singapore, China, Japan and India for talent and resources to create the next technology innovations.
Technology is the engine that drives our economy.
So shouldn’t we all be working together to find out how best to compete in a global marketplace?
Let’s talk about it.
On Monday at Capital Factory, a RISE Panel, hosted by Roberto Rondero de Mosier will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. to discuss the Austin/San Antonio Connection.
Here’s the description: “During the next 20 years, the Austin-San Antonio corridor will rival the current Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Come speak to folks in both investor/entrepreneur communities who are on the edge of exciting new developments that will make this THE metroplex of innovation over the next generation. Questions: What is the funding landscape in Austin v. San Antonio? What programs are in place to promote mindshare between the two cities? Is there a city that is right for my entrepreneurial venture? What unique entrepreneur talent is coming out of San Antonio that Austin financiers may not know about yet? Featuring: Jason Seats, Managing Director of TechStars Cloud; Steven Quintanilla, Founder of Kirpeep; Laura Lorek, Silicon Hills News; Another TBA.”
Sign up now, and we’ll see you on Monday at Capital Factory.