Millennials Prefer These 5 Tech Hubs To Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley used to be the largest destination for tech talent. However, millennials are leaving San Francisco due in part to the high cost of living, and a recent study by Glassdoor found that the percentage of software jobs has increased in other cities such as New York, NY, Austin, TX and Washington, D.C. The allure of tech jobs in San Francisco is still strong. How are other cities competing for the brightest minds in tech?
Los Angeles, CA
With a history of entertainment, media and aerospace, Los Angeles now boasts a community of accelerators, incubators, venture capital funds and angel investors and embraces its identity as Silicon Beach.
“Los Angeles is a special place to be building a tech startup,” said Matt Danna, cofounder & CEO, Boulevard. “Weather aside, there’s a real sense of openness and collaboration among entrepreneurs. In other cities, many founders tend to believe that venture capital equates to success, leading to a competitive, zero-sum game mentality. Because investors are less prevalent in LA, there’s a focus on building mission-driven movements, profitable businesses, and conviction for mass-market potential. Storytelling, branding, and value creation supersede tech stack, software development methodologies, and office snacks.”
“There’s a ton to love about Los Angeles: the variety of major industries here (versus the tech monoculture in SF), the weather is unbeatable, and there are attractive living opportunities for people from young graduates to those with families that don’t require a seven-figure salary,” O’Connor said. “Plus, people are just generally happier in LA.”
Tech jobs in Raleigh have grown 38.5% from 2010-2015. The sector is growing almost as quickly as it is in Silicon Valley. Raleigh also has several accelerators and incubators such as Innovators Program and First Flight Venture Center.
“I grew up in Raleigh, but I also spent time in the San Francisco area as an intern for several tech companies,” said Ricky Hopper, Technical Lead at PrecisionHawk. “One of the biggest reasons I decided to come back to Raleigh to continue my career was the diversity of perspectives in the Triangle area.
“We get to meet a great number of people working on exciting, impactful ideas wherever we go, and have access to incredible resources to learn about all sorts of emerging technologies. Raleigh is a developing technology hub while still not being overwhelmed by the industry – it’s a great community to build a career.”
Raleigh has a relatively lower cost of living too, compared with other established tech hubs. “I was attracted to Raleigh by the growing urban area, great weather, and overall amazing ratio of quality of life / cost of living balance,” said Will Bernholz, VP, Marketing for Dropsource. “Having lived and worked in expensive and hyper-fast-paced cities before (Beijing and NYC), I was ready for a smaller city experience. I also wanted a city that would provide the right balance of activity (nightlife, sports, restaurants), space (sick of living in a broom closet), and affordability. The clean natural environment and easy access to nature here was also a big draw.
Chicago is another rising tech hub that attracts people who want to work in tech but do not want to live in a city where the median home price is $1.5 million.
“In the Bay area the tech culture can be monolithic,” said Jacob Albers, Associate – Data Analytics at KIG CRE. “Working in the smaller, more tightly-knit tech ecosystem of Chicago has enabled me to make an impact and form connections that would have been highly gated in the Valley. I may have grown up in the Bay Area, but Chicago gave me opportunities and a lifestyle that would have been far more costly on the coasts.”
Catalina Costa, Art Director at Chicago startup M1 Finance, agrees. “I wanted to move to Chicago because I was ready to move to a big city, but not ready to move out of the Midwest. Some of the other big cities out there, especially the ones on the coasts, seemed a bit standoffish, but Chicago still has the Midwestern charm and friendliness that I grew up with and am used to. Plus, the sheer amount of design jobs that were available when I was looking made it seem like Chicago was full of opportunity and like there was no limit to what I could do in the city.”
New York, NY
For Katelyn Coghlan, a Marketing & Project Manager at The Glimpse Group who works in the Virtual and Augmented Reality industry, New York was the perfect place to make a career shift.
“I was initially attracted to New York because I wanted to pursue a career in television, but after realizing how much content was being created for various digital platforms my interest shifted. That’s the amazing thing about New York, you can always find an opportunity that allows you to explore something new.”
New York’s industry diversity makes it easier for people, and their partners, to find jobs in a variety of different sectors.
“In NYC, there are endless career opportunities here, no matter what industry you work in,” said Carli Evilsizer, Brand & Communications Manager at Roomi. “I moved to NYC because my husband has access to all of the best advertising agencies while I have the opportunity to work with startups in any industry. I love how NYC’s startup community is really close-knit and interested in the success of other companies, whether they are a tech startup or a snack startup!”
New York also boasts an abundance of culture, and the opportunity to do more than just work long hours. “What keeps me here is that New York has a vibrant cultural world and plenty of industries outside of tech,” said Jeremy Belcher, Senior UX Designer at FIA Tech. “I can immerse myself in the tech world by day, but can easily escape it when I go home.”
Katherine Martinez, Product Designer, Celmatix, embraces the fast pace of the city that never sleeps. “I grew up in Florida, where the pace felt pretty slow, especially when it came to tech innovation. I wanted to be somewhere faster, where I could be surrounded by some of the best talent in my field. In New York, I can focus on what’s important to me: designing and developing for a fast-paced company doing innovative new things, with colleagues that inspire me to be my best.”
Over the past several years, Austin has emerged as a tech hub and was recently named the best city to start a business by CNBC.
“Austin has all the things I love about SF (young city, great culture, tons of outdoor activities), plus amazing weather, great live music and BBQ,” Kelsey Castellow, Senior Communications Manager, Atlassian. “I only cut my rent by $200/month, but instead of living in a 500 sq. ft. apartment with two roommates, no living room and barely any appliances, I now live alone in a much larger apartment with a full set of appliances, a gym, pool and parking. Everything I buy – from groceries to clothes – seems to be cheaper here than in SF. My quality of life is much higher.”
Zane Hancock, Operations Manager, Fasten, also enjoys participating in the evolution of this city. “As a native Texan and Houstonian, I’ve always had a soft spot for Austin,” “It has such a flare for new ideas and innovation that as someone looking to be a part of something revolutionary, I couldn’t help but to be drawn to this city. I’ve been in the Austin area for 8 years now, and in that time I’ve seen exponential growth in terms of the tech industry.”
Now that tech talent is distributed across a larger number of cities, the question is whether one hub will emerge as the dominant place for young employees to migrate, or whether each of these cities will continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Marissa Peretz is a Founder of Silicon Beach Talent, a boutique recruiting and consulting firm in Los Angeles. SBT recruits designers, engineers, and leadership for emerging tech companies.
Posted with permission of Forbes Media LLC.
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