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Could Austin's tech boom turn into a tech wreck?

(Andrea Guzmán/Austonia)

Austin’s boom over the past couple of years has seen a flood of tech workers making up about a fifth of all jobs and software engineers earning an average salary of more than $128,000. The city has also won the headquarters of giants like Tesla and Oracle and expansions from others.

But lately, it’s hard to ignore that even the giants are feeling worked up over market sentiment. Meta is reportedly slashing hiring plans and Tesla has talked of layoffs. Startup founders are being told to plan for the worst and venture capitalists are becoming more risk-averse.


Could all the momentum the city has gained as a tech hub come to a halt with a possible economic slump?

Scott Francis, the board chair of the Austin Technology Council, has been in Austin since the 90s, so he’s seen the downturn in 2001 and then again in 2008 when he says Austin was affected quite a bit. But he thinks the scale of the investment in Austin is so much bigger now, making him less worried about it than he would have been 10 or 20 years ago.

The Chamber of Commerce has backed the idea that the diversity of the local economy would make a recession less destructive here. And at least for some tech giants in Austin, job security is less of a concern.

“When a company puts their headquarters in Austin, like Tesla has, then likely the ups and downs of their hiring and staffing changes are less likely to impact us negatively than they would be when their headquarters are somewhere else,” Francis said.

(Scott Francis)


Still, there might be specific pockets of trouble in the economy, Francis notes. He said passive client risk should be something tech companies keep an eye on. For example, there could be companies that aren’t in crypto but serve companies in crypto, and that could be a risk to their status amid the crypto crash.

Christa "CS" Freeland, founding executive director of the Austin Venture Association, told Austonia that in anticipation of a downturn they reached out to Austin’s venture community for their perspective on what we might expect here locally.

“The general consensus is that Austin will still continue to be a great place to start a family, enjoy the region with better work/life balance, and also get a house that would have been too expensive to even consider elsewhere in the Bay Area or NYC,” Freeland said.

(CS Freeland)


Austin's desirability to live here is an important asset that will help it weather the storm. It's a beautiful city with great food, tons of outdoor activities and no shortage of festivals.

“As long as we can make Austin an amazing place to live, there's going to be a great tech ecosystem in Austin, because techies are going to live here,” Francis said.

The growing number of tech workers with their high salaries has made it a place fewer people outside of the tech sphere can afford to live.

It's a different tune than in the past. Ultimately, Austin began competing with other tech hubs because of its relative affordability compared to other regions, Francis said. In the early 2000s and for some time after that, people had to be sold on Austin, feeling hesitant because they worried the market might be too small.

“That equation has changed so much. It's kind of amazing,” Francis said.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway