Silicon Valley’s mild climate, educational opportunities, and job prospects have attracted workers for more than a century and helped turn the area into the tech industry’s epicenter. However, its center-of-the-tech-universe status may be fading. Here’s why.
- Silicon Valley has been the epicenter of the tech industry for decades.
- High housing costs, high tax rates, and strict regulations have made it challenging to live, work, and do business in the area.
- More tech companies are opting to move operations to Texas and other states with lower costs of living and more-favorable tax laws.
- Oracle and Hewlett Packard are among the tech giants who have recently announced plans to move their headquarters to Texas.
A Tech Exodus
An impossible housing market, high tax rates, and strict regulations have made it challenging to live, work, and do business in Silicon Valley. And now, as companies are finding success with work-from-home models during the COVID-19 pandemic, many CEOs are opting to leave California in search of lower real estate prices, better tax laws, and fewer restrictions.
Where Are the Tech Companies Going?
One state that has gained ground as a tech hub is Texas. Industry leaders such as Advanced Micro Devices and Dell already have an Austin—aka “Silicon Hills”—presence. As of November, 35 companies had relocated to or opened new facilities in the Austin area in 2020 alone, according to data from the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Austin has many qualities that make it an attractive option. “There are a lot of things about this community—it’s got a great local flavor, a great music scene, it’s an outdoors city,” said Laura Huffman, president and CEO of the Austin Chamber, as reported by CNN Business. “That’s where people want to be. I think 2020 has taught us all that we have more choice when it comes to where we live.”
Which Companies Are Leaving?
Here’s a rundown of some of the large tech companies that in 2020 have announced plans to leave the Bay Area for Texas.
- Hewlett Packard Enterprises—Houston is HP’s largest employment hub, and the company is building a new campus there now. The company also announced plans earlier this month to move its headquarters from San Jose to Texas.
- Oracle—While Oracle plans to keep some of its operations in California, it announced plans to move its headquarters from Redwood City, Calif., to Austin. The company stated the move will “position Oracle for growth and provide our personnel with flexibility about where and how they work,” spokesperson Deborah Hellinger told CNN.
- 8VC—The venture capital firm, run by Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, is moving its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Austin. “It’s just become really obvious that there are a lot of places to build around the country, not just Silicon Valley, due to cost of living, talent, and all sorts of other things, culture, and what not,” Lonsdale told the Austin American Statesman in November.
- FileTrail—The company, which makes records management software for law firms, moved from San Jose to Austin earlier this year.
- DZS Inc.—The telecommunications equipment firm announced earlier this year plans to move its headquarters from Oakland, Calif., to Plano, Texas.
- QuestionPro—In January 2020 the online survey software firm announced its move from the Bay Area to Austin.
Some CEOs are moving to Texas, too, as reported by TheInformation.com, a website that covers the technology industry.
- Drew Houston—Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has bought a home in Austin, which will become his permanent residence.
- Douglas Merritt—Splunk CEO Douglass Merritt recently bought a home in Austin, with plans to make it his permanent residence.
- Elon Musk—Tesla is building a large factory near Austin. Its CEO, Elon Musk, announced in late 2020 that he had moved from California to Texas to be near the facility.
Florida Is Another Option for Tech Firms and CEOs
Florida—with its sunshine, affordable real estate, and low tax rates—is also growing as a tech and startup hub. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian moved from San Francisco to Florida several years ago. What's more, New York–based Goldman Sachs is considering moving some of its operations to Miami, according to the New York Times.
According to TheNextMiami.com, three tech investors have announced their moves to Miami. David Blumberg, founder and managing partner of the venture capital firm Blumberg Capital; Keith Rabois, a general partner at Founders Fund and a former executive at PayPal and LinkedIn; and Jon Oringer, a former New York resident who is the founder and executive chairman of Shutterstock. Oringer recently bought a $42 million house in Miami.
The Bottom Line
Silicon Valley—and its numerous tech firms—have attracted talent for decades. Now, though, exorbitant housing costs, high taxes, and strict regulations have made it a challenging place to live, work, and do business. A silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many firms have successfully implemented work-from-home strategies. Moving forward, this will give companies and employees alike more flexibility over where and how to work.