Top 10 Austin Technology Stories For 2018
The last 12 months have seen the Austin technology ecosystem continue to rise. Ten of the top trends / stories / developments / game-changing events for 2018 were as follows:
- Apple Announces New Campus. This headline from the Austin Business Journal says it all about the new campus, which will bring at least 5,000 new jobs to the city: “The Big Apple Got Amazon, But Austin Got the Big Apple.” Many other tech giants from across the nation also grew their presence here, as noted by the above graphic from Recode.
- Army Futures Command Picks A-Town. Less substantial in number of employees (but equally important in terms of longterm positioning) was the selection of Austin as the headquarters for the biggest reorganization of the US Army since 1973.
- More Capital in the Capital City. In September, Mithril Capital Management (a firm co-founded by Peter Thiel) announced they were leaving San Francisco for Austin. Meanwhile Vista Equity Partners continues to boom, as the private-equity firm is near completion of a $12 billion technology fund.
- 3D Printing is Hot on the Third Coast. The Austin-based startup ICON was one of the big winners of SXSW 2018, garnering lots of attention for its quick and relatively inexpensive 3D house printing process. Two months earlier, re:3D (also based in Central Texas) cleaned up at the WeWork’s Creator Awards, taking home the top prize of $1 million in the for-profit company category.
- Strong Showing From Female Entrepreneurs. Whitney Wolfe Herd and her female-focused social network Bumble enjoyed a banner 2018. An IPO in 2019 is likely. Meanwhile, two Austin women made the billionaire club — jewelry maven Kendra Scott and Thai Lee, the S&H International CEO. Finally, Women@Austin fortified its future by joining the Notley Social Impact Ecosystem.
- More Transportation Options for More People. Scooters arrived here in March and they have quickly become an indispensable asset for the booming Millennial population. On the other end of the scale, the number of passengers at Austin Bergstrom airport continues to climb. New gates scheduled to open in March mean this figure will continue to rise.
- Local Bad Boys Take Their Lumps. In September, do-it-yourself weapons startup Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson was arrested on felony sex assault charges. Meanwhile, InfoWars’ Alex Jones lost his official accounts on Facebook and Twitter — yet his infamy (and his antics) continues to escalate.
- The Tech Vote Strengthens. In November, Mayor Steve Adler won re-election by capturing more than 60% of the ballots cast. The campaign of his opponent that painted the city’s tech boom as a flaw, not a feature clearly didn’t resonate with voters. Although he fell short of victory, entrepreneur-turned-candidate Joseph Kopser gained national attention in his effort to win the seat of longtime GOP mainstay Lamar Smith.
- More Diversity in the City’s Startup Scene. The diversity-focused incubator Div-Inc continues to grow, finding a new home at Capital Factory. Another sign of the emergence of this portion of the ecosystem was the inaugural Mosaic Awards in July, which honored Austin’s most innovative game-changers from this sector.
- Emerging Technology Emerge Here. Central Texas can stake its claim as an epicenter for a number of new technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence to crypto to blockchain to quantum computing to private space exploration. The massive creativity that is the hallmark of this city’s DNA means that Austin is well-positioned for 2019 and beyond to become home for the next big thing.
Honorable Mention: Some of the important stories that didn’t make the Top Ten list include the continued expansion of WeWork in Austin; MassChallenge Texas brings the city even more founders; Facebook to develop another big hub at the Domain; the Rooster Teeth empire survives the problems of parent company Otter Media; the Capital Factory takeover of Texas marches forward with a new outpost in Houston; and Austin Community College pushes even more student entrepreneurism.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.