Fortune 500's 2021 list is officially out, and the Austin metro saw two companies crack the list this year, with two others making the top 1,000.
While the Texas capital doesn't boast as many Fortune 500 headquarters as some other cities, its reputation as a tech hub and a Californian's paradise is still well-represented.
Oracle, which uprooted its headquarters from California to Austin last year, made the top 100 in the 80th slot this year, while Round Rock's own Dell was No. 28. Companies with large ties, including Tesla, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google all cracked the top 100. And despite a tumultuous economic year, each of the Fortune 1,000 companies HQ'ed in Austin saw growth in 2020.
Here's a look at Austin companies that made the Fortune list:
28. Dell Technologies
Dell thrived during the pandemic by helping employees across the country adjust to remote work (Dell/Facebook)
Dell, which has been rooted in Austin since Michael Dell started the company as a University of Texas-Austin student in 1984, made the top 30. The computer manufacturer moved up six slots this year, is listed on the Global 500, and is one of the 100 most profitable corporations in the Fortune 500.
Dell is the second-largest non-oil company in Texas and the sixth biggest company in the state by revenue. As a global power, it is the largest shipper of PC computers in the world.
To cope with the pandemic, Dell decided to double down on work rather than hit the pause button. Dell gained 8,000 more employees in 2020 and employed a record of 165,000 worldwide as it shifted to push 90% of its employees into remote work. The company's emphasis on digitization and mobile technology for consumers during the pandemic paid off—the company had record revenue in 2020.
Dell, with multiple local offices, currently employs around 13,000 people in Central Texas and plans on keeping most of its employees in a remote or hybrid work format.
Oracle's Austin campus, which is now the company's headquarters, opened in 2018. (Oracle/Facebook)
Oracle, a global corporation that sells database, software and cloud technologies, was one of the major tech companies to announce its relocation of its headquarter to Austin from Southern California in 2020, after establishing a half a million-square-foot facility on East Riverside in 2018.
The corporation rose up two spots to No. 80 on the Fortune 500 in 2021 and is one of the 100 most profitable on the list. Oracle also cracks the Global 500 and is one of 71 Fortune 500 companies to have a female CEO, Safra A. Katz.
During the pandemic, Oracle faced big changes. Aside from moving its headquarters across states, the company began using artificial intelligence, augmented reality and voice commands (instead of "Hey, Siri", think "Hey, Oracle") to help companies move into the cloud.
According to Shailesh Singla, Country Head & Senior Director, Employee Experience/HCM Business at Oracle, the pandemic actually sped up digital technology, especially using AI as a human resources function, by many years.
Tesla's newest plant, Giga Texas, is set to be completed by the end of 2021. (Tesla Owners of Austin/Twitter)
While electric car giant Tesla hasn't moved its headquarters to Austin (although teased last year), its CEO Elon Musk, has already made the move. The man who called Austin a "boomtown" has plans to manufacture the company's Cybertruck and Model Y products out of the Giga Texas plant, set to be completed later this year in southeast Travis County.
The electric vehicle company just reaches the top 100 in the Fortune 500 list, rising 24 slots in the rankings. The company has seen job growth as Tesla works to employ nearly 10,000 Austin-area residents at the new Texas plant.
Musk famously had run-ins with COVID policies in California, where he was originally located, spurring him to join the California migration in the summer of 2020. Tesla famously struggled in its first decade of existence, but the EV entity grew more than a cult following during the pandemic. In April, the company reported its third consecutive profitable quarter for the first time, and Musk's net worth swelled to $155 billion.
Musk's former company PayPal also cracked the list at 134 on the Fortune 500. Musk used the funds from when the company went public to create the companies for which he is now famous, including Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink.
523. Resideo Technologies- Fortune 1,000
Resideo Technologies streamlines home security and climate control worldwide. (Resideo Pro/Facebook)
While not quite cracking the Fortune 500 list, Resideo Technologies nearly made the list as a rising star in smart home technologies. The company is the No. 1 global distributor of home security products and employs over 14,000 worldwide. Resideo combines home necessities, including air conditioning, security systems, and water and energy conservation tools to give consumers a holistic product.
The company saw job growth in 2020 despite the pandemic as more consumers spent time at home. Over 15 million systems were installed last year, accounting for $5.1 billion in sales. Resideo bottomed out at the start of the pandemic but saw revenues rise by 10% from January to November 2020, surprising Wall Street investors.
627. Digital Realty Trust- Fortune 1,000
Digital Realty Trust owns two data centers in Austin and has influence worldwide as a real estate investment corporation. (datacenterdynamics.com)
Digital Realty Trust is another global giant that made its way to Austin during the pandemic. The real estate investment entity, which provides data center services worldwide, moved its headquarters to the Texas capital in January 2021 and has since seen revenue grow 32.4% to $1.1 billion just this year.
Only 5% of the company's investments in retail, energy, travel and lodging were at serious risk due to COVID. Although it only employs about a dozen at its Austin headquarters, it has a major footprint in Texas and owns 30 data centers in the state.
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Austin's Delta 8 industry has been turned on its head after Texas health officials clarified that the cannabinoid is on the state list of illegal substances, though it was previously believed to be legal by most retailers, consumers and manufacturers.
House Bill 1325, which was signed in June 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Farm Bill, signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018, legalized any hemp product containing less than .3% THC. The same bills were thought to have made Delta 8 legal, though the Texas Department of State Health Services added a notice on its website saying it was still a controlled substance as of Friday, Oct. 15.
Both the federal and state governments keep separate lists on what is considered a controlled substance. Marijuana is considered Schedule I, a category reserved for substances with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," both statewide and federally.
Austin-based CBD retailer Grassroots Harvest CEO Kemal Whyte, like many CBD shop retailers, was blindsided by the announcement. Many small businesses rely on Delta 8 for their sales—Green Herbal Care CBD said about 90% of its sales come from Delta 8—and Whyte said he is frustrated by the inconsistencies in the drug scheduling system.
Since 87% of Texans support the legalization of marijuana, at least for medical use, per a recent poll, Whyte said he wonders who this legislation is for.
"It's gonna have a massive impact on small businesses—there's just no way around it," Whyte said. "The reality is, we don't want to push out anything bad for our customers, we want this to benefit our customers and to help them. If we can make money while doing it, that's the American dream. What are we doing, whose benefit is this for?"
Delta 8 surged in popularity after the perceived legalization—consumers enjoyed its lower psychotropic potency, decreased anxiety while using it and the peace of mind as a legal way to get high. So in order to protect their products and livelihoods, both Grassroots Harvest and Austin-based manufacturer Hometown Heroes are taking legal action.
Whyte said Grassroots Harvest is suing DSHS, saying their action is creating negative effects in the market. Meanwhile, a Hometown Heroes spokesperson said the company is in the process of filing a temporary restraining order that would pause the ban on Delta-8 in the state of Texas.
Threats against Delta 8 are not new—DSHS lost a lawsuit trying to make "smokable hemp products" illegal last year and Texas lawmakers had been considering a bill that would make Delta 8 illegal, though it was dropped after the clarification was made.
Hometown Heroes released a formal statement in response to the DSHS rule.
"I need to be clear—we love Texas, we're just choosing to fight for the will of the people in regards to cannabis in Texas," Hometown Hero CEO Lukas Gilkey said in a statement. "(Texas DSHS) are using backhanded ways to create legislation and go against the will of the people."
Whyte laments the fact that it would be easier legally to "open up a strip club that also sells guns," and said he can't post customer testimonials that mention the benefits of Delta 8 without getting hit with a cease and desist from the Food and Drug Administration. Whyte said he isn't opposed to regulation—far from it—he just wants to see it go through the correct channels.
"The fact that they're stunting our ability to communicate with our clients that want to learn about this, you're preventing us from communicating with them and teaching them, or spreading information that we know," Whyte said. "I think that that in and of itself opens up a lot of questions."
Grassroots Harvest still has Delta 8 products on its shelves for the time being but for how long, Whyte doesn't know.
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Austin Public Health and other clinics around Austin are now providing booster shots for all three vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to fully vaccinated individuals after both Pfizer and J & J were approved by the CDC on Wednesday.
APH and Austin clinics, which were already administering the approved Pfizer booster, will begin distributing shots as soon as Friday.
Those who received the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine more than six months ago are elligble to receive a booster if they are over 65 or if they are over 18 and:
- Live in a long-term care environment
- Have underlying medical conditions
- Work or live in high-risk settings, such as schools, hospitals or correctional facilities
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a media Q&A Friday that APH is encouraging boosters just as much as they have urged residents to get their first and second doses.
"Boosters are incredibly important to keeping our community protected and hospitalizations low," Walkes said. "If we can stay on top of our vaccinations, we provide protections for our most vulnerable and make it that much harder for COVID to spread in our community."
Eligible residents are free to choose the same booster as their first doses or "mix and match," per the CDC announcement.
Those looking for another dose can simply bring their vaccination card to APH centers or the dozens of Walgreens and CVS locations in the metro, which began administering doses Friday.
Additional updated guidance from the CDC allows for all eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a "mix-and-match" booster dose. It is advised to remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Card showing the original doses with you when going for booster shots.
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