3 big tech companies are betting on Austin for their expansion

June 16, 2016
It's no secret that Austin is a great place to grow a tech company. Whether it's the quality of dev talent or the way we keep it weird, the booming city plays host to more than just homegrown startups. 
 
Many notable tech companies you've probably heard of have chosen to make Austin their second home. We talked with three that are growing their operations right now about why they chose Austin and what's next for their plans. 
 
Answers from Ashley Vartyak, Director People & Culture 
 
Why Austin? Was there anything in particular about the community that drew you to the city? Duo was intentional when selecting Austin as a place to expand our team. We knew it aligned with our talent strategy to find another hot bed for seasoned inside sales talent. There are also a lot of parallels between Austin and the wacky and unique culture of the Ann Arbor, MI community where Duo was founded.
 
How does Austin tech scene differ from the other markets you’ve built a presence in? What are the advantages of setting up a digital innovation center here? Duo has offices in London, UK and San Mateo, CA as well as Austin, and our HQ in Ann Arbor, MI. Austin is the most similar culturally to Ann Arbor in the overall vibe of the community.  We’re finding the values of the Austin talent pool align really well with Duo’s.
 
What do your growth plans in Austin look like? How many team members are you looking to welcome?We are have about a half dozen remaining Sales hires to make in Austin, and we are also in discussions about expanding additional functions there (such as Engineering, Product, and Customer Success teams)! 
 
What's the one thing about your culture everyone in Austin tech should know? Our Austin team says it best, when they told me ‘You immediately feel Duo’s midwest kindness - it’s fun and infectious being a part of this team that feels like family. It’s also obvious that Duo values learning as you feel like this is a place you can be supported to grow your career.’ 
 
What are some employee perks? Open PTO, fully paid family healthcare option, paid parental leave, paid FMLA leave, and the Opportunity to solve a problem that’s on a geopolitical scale: we’re making the internet safe! 
 
 
Answers from Travis Swicegood, Director of Engineering
 
Why Austin? Was there anything in particular about the community that drew you to the city? Austin makes everyone's shortlist. It has over 30 years of success in technology — MCC anyone? — and a vibrant community developers and designers and entrepreneurs. Throw in events like SXSW and ACL and Austin stands head and shoulders above any other place we considered.
 
How does Austin tech scene differ from the other markets you’ve built a presence in? One of the most immediate is our ability to recruit from another pool of talent. It's hard to recruit to New York City or San Francisco. The top talent that wants to be there already is and there's a growing number of people who don't want to be there. Austin is a place that people want to be. The 150+ people moving here a day is proof of that.
 
The constant stream of new blood helps invigorate the city and has also intensified the tribalism that's common in Texas. It's important for us to be seen as part of the community, not simply an outside company that plopped an office down on the East side of town. That's one of the reasons we're hiring new folks for this office instead of simply transferring folks from the NYC office.
 
What are the advantages of setting up a digital innovation center here? We like to think of it less as a digital innovation center and more of a digital outpost. We don't want anyone to think that innovation is that thing that happens "over there." Everyone's responsible for moving this ship forward.
 
We've carefully structured the teams here in Austin to have a balance of new self-contained teams and teams distributed across NYC and ATX. This gives us the best of both worlds: distributed teams and co-location. We have enough day-to-day connection to the NYC office that we're able to contribute a little bit of the Austin culture back upstream while still being distinctly Austin. The last thing we want is to be Condé Nast's innovation island that folks in the rest of the company only visit during SXSW.
 
What do your growth plans in Austin look like? How many team members are you looking to welcome? Current plans are for 25 - 30 new hires in 2016 with about as many added over the following two years. Of course, success here means even more opportunities, so we are shooting to outgrow it!
 
What's the one thing about your culture everyone in Austin tech should know? We've got the best of both worlds. We get to create a new culture and go through all of that exploratory fun as we figure out what Condé Nast Austin is. At the same time, we have the stability of being backed by a company with over a century track record.
 
 
Answers from Peter Vu, General Manager
 
Why Austin? Was there anything in particular about the community that drew you to the city?  At Luxe we solve for making car ownership simple, from providing a stress-free solution for limited and inconvenient parking solutions, to helping to save time and money with additional car services. Austin is a perfect city for us to provide our service as it has all the elements we set out to address. There’s a large amount of migration into Downtown, real estate is only getting pricier and developers are beginning to forfeit building parking structures, making parking in the city and residential areas even harder. We also know despite the buzz, folks are still buying cars. People love their cars and it is still the preferred way to travel, especially intra city. This is where Luxe steps in and we found Austin a place where our parking solution could deliver a lot of value. Luxe can help folks looking for a convenient, affordable parking service no matter if they’re driving Downtown into work daily or spending a night out on the town.
 
How does Austin tech scene differ from the other markets you’ve built a presence in? What are the advantages of setting up a digital innovation center here? There really is a community-based approach to the startups and tech folks we meet out here that we don’t always see in our other cities. Not only do the entrepreneurs and their workers constantly engage one another, but Austin locals also heavily support local companies. 
 
In looking to develop another hub for our business, we were attracted to the concentrated abundance of technical and non-technical talent in Austin. We fully expect this region to amass more tech-minded professionals in the near future, and we are excited to participate in this growth.
 
What do your growth plans in Austin look like? How many team members are you looking to welcome? Right now, we’re looking to build out our sales, customer service and operations teams at the Capital Factory in Downtown Austin. As a private company we don’t break down our staffing numbers, though we’re definitely expanding and looking for great new hires in Austin!
 
What's the one thing about your culture everyone in Austin tech should know? We’re committed to treating all our partners the right way. Whether it’s our customers, employees or parking operators, we commit daily to making sure they are receiving a great experience.
 
What's the one thing about your culture everyone in Austin tech should know? All Austin employees receive unlimited vacation plus 6 holidays and time off from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, benefits such as medical, dental, and vision, free parking, stock options, weekly breakfast and lunch.
 
 
 
Have a news tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Tell us or tweet us @BuiltInAustin.
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