The Austin tech community doesn’t choose the companies; it’s the companies that choose Austin — and for great reason.
Our community has been praised by other tech hubs for our inclusivity, willingness to promote the city over individual companies and our signature “Keep Austin Weird” easygoing vibes. This, of course, is in addition to Austin’s ongoing stream of technical talent and desirable cost of living in comparison to some of the major U.S. tech cities.
We caught up with leaders from two of Austin tech’s staples to learn more about their choice to grow in Austin and why they stay.
For the San Antonio-based 114-year-old grocer chain H-E-B, opening a tech hub in Austin was a no brainer. Our city’s proximity to its HQ campus paired with our international reputation as having a reputable tech scene made the decision easy. Senior Director of Digital Product Management Chris Duty shared more on the Austin tech community and H-E-B’s evolving role within.
Tell us a bit about why you love being part of the Austin tech community. Why did you choose to grow your office here?
I've found the Austin tech community to be an inclusive group of curious people willing to promote the City of Austin over their own company. I believe the unified promotion of Austin is what will attract talented individuals and leaders from across the country, and the globe, which will further elevate the quality of companies operating in Austin.
Building world-class digital products for a 114-year-old grocer is no small task and requires locations in multiple cities with access to excellent tech talent. Austin was a natural extension of our San Antonio campus because of the geographical proximity to San Antonio, maturity of the tech market, and desirability of Austin within the global tech scene.
Austin was a natural extension of our San Antonio campus because of the geographical proximity to San Antonio, maturity of the tech market, and desirability of Austin within the global tech scene.”
How does your team give back to the local community and/or support fellow tech professionals in your area?
H-E-B has a long history of supporting the communities we serve, including our Feast of Sharing Dinners, the Emergency Preparedness Program, and an ongoing commitment to education and environmental efforts. As our digital team has expanded in Austin, new digital partners continue the H-E-B culture of supporting communities through programs that are accessible to all, and nonprofit organizations that help those most in need.
H-E-B aligns well with my passion for supporting the Austin community with sustainable agriculture and accessible fresh food for all. H-E-B donates more than 33 million pounds of food annually to 17 food banks. These food banks serve more than 5,000 organizations throughout Texas. Through H-E-B, I've had the opportunity to connect with a few of these organizations in Austin, and I look forward to strengthening these relationships over my career at H-E-B.
Austin-born gaming studio Certain Affinity hasn’t laid off a single employee since its 2006 inception. That is quite a victory and one that VP of Marketing and Operations and Co-Owner Mojdeh Gharbi credits to the company’s philosophy of success, which was inspired by Austin’s tagline.
Why did you choose to grow your tech company in Austin?
Our company culture reflects the vibrant nature of the city we call home. Certain Affinity's headquarters are close to downtown. We embrace our city’s diverse, creative, and easygoing nature. Austin continues to be a vibrant city and a big supporter of the arts, creative and tech fields. The game industry demands a unique mixture of STEM, creative and business disciplines, and Austin is home to some of the best in those fields, so it was a natural fit for Certain Affinity.
It’s not about being weird or rejecting success, but about not losing sight of the reasons you became successful in the first place.”
What’s something unique to the Austin tech community? How has that shaped your company culture?
The phrase “Keep Austin Weird” may seem like an empty bumper sticker slogan, but there does seem to be a genuine desire among Austinites to preserve and maintain the things that made them fall in love with the city in the first place. It’s not about being weird or rejecting success, but about not losing sight of the reasons you became successful in the first place. For us, it means building a culture that brings the best talent together, embraces humility while working on the most renowned games in the industry and never taking ourselves too seriously. It’s what has allowed us to consistently be profitable for more than 12 years without a single layoff and still growing. Austin has enabled us to embrace our weird!