Bay Area tech workers may be eyeing Austin (even more) as remote work gains wide acceptance post-pandemic
In 2010, shortly after the Great Recession ended, entrepreneur Paul O'Brien and his family—wife and three kids—packed up their home in the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos and headed to the Silicon Hills hub of Austin. The O'Briens were eager for a better quality of life.
The mortgage crisis and other issues "made us realize we were not where we wanted to be," said O'Brien, founder and CEO of Austin-based MediaTech Ventures.
Ten years after arriving here, O'Brien believes many current residents of the San Francisco Bay Area—encompassing the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas—will pull up stakes and settle in Austin (and other cities in Texas) to flee sky-high housing prices and other quality-of-life drawbacks. Why now? The coronavirus pandemic has propelled the remote-work movement, freeing up folks who've been tethered to offices to work from, and live, practically anywhere.
On Twitter, Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan wrote in May that the remote-work wave has erased some of the key reasons for staying in the Bay Area.
"The office isn't used, the industry is going remote," he tweeted. "So SF is just pure repulsion. And people will fly away."
A May 3-5 survey by Redfin, a residential real estate brokerage company, found that 51% of people living in San Francisco would "fly away" if current work-from-home policies became permanent. The No. 1 driver of this would-be exodus? The desire to live somewhere less expensive. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in April that, based on anecdotal evidence, the coronavirus pandemic apparently "has prompted a minor but disorienting Bay Area exodus."
Before the pandemic, 35% of local residents indicated in a 2019 survey by the San Francisco Controller's Office that they were likely to move away from San Francisco in the next three years.
Perhaps buoying the potential San Francisco-to-Austin shift is the fact that a number of Northern California-based employers maintain sizeable outposts in Central Texas. The list includes AMD, Apple, Applied Materials, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Oracle, PayPal and Visa.
Data suggests a pandemic-inspired migration from the Bay Area to Austin might already be underway.
Figures from Apartments.com show an upward trend in searches by people in San Francisco for places to live in Austin. The data covers the period from Feb. 1 to June 5.
Another apartment website, Zumper, has recorded a 29% spike in Austin searches by people located in the San Francisco Bay area. The site compared the two-month period of February and March to the two-month period of April and May. Zumper noted that May is the kickoff of the summer moving season, which might account for part of the 29% increase.
Of course, Austin has seen this scene play out for a while, with a steady stream of folks transplanting themselves from the Bay Area to Austin in the years since the Great Recession. One high-profile example: Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, author and podcaster Tim Ferriss relocated to Austin in 2017 to escape an environment that he branded as close-minded.
"While many poke fun at all the immigrants to Austin, and even disdain all those Californians," O'Brien said, "the fact is that many left in 2009 and 2010 precisely to be Texan and not Californian. Austin, from that point forward, became a prototype—an MVP—of how cities throughout the world could also thrive through the internet and how we could all look to the internet in our traditional industries."
- Reopening Austin offices plan for one-way foot traffic, sanitizing ... ›
- Google delays returning to Austin offices as COVID-19 spikes - austonia ›
- What $10 million or more can get you in Austin luxury homes - austonia ›
- See Austin's new Apple campus under construction - austonia ›
- Prime downtown Austin waterfront property goes up for sale as longtime ad agency moves on - austonia ›
- The intrepid: How brand-new Austin residents are connecting with the city despite a pandemic - austonia ›
- The intrepid: How brand-new Austin residents are connecting with the city despite a pandemic - austonia ›
- Migration insights of Austin, who is moving to the city and who is leaving the city - austonia ›
- Google engineers struggle to be productive working-from-home - austonia ›
- Texas joins Trump administration's lawsuit against Google - austonia ›
- Austin ranks in top 3 of tech job markets in U.S. & Canada - austonia ›
- Austin homes more expensive than ever - austonia ›
- How Austin's Barton Hills neighborhood transformed - austonia ›
- The CEO of Dropbox is planning a move to Austin - austonia ›
- California tech employees move to austin for business and way of living - austonia ›
- Blockcap, a cryptocurrency company, moves to Austin with plans for growth - austonia ›
- Austin vs. Denver: Why both cities are millennial magnets - austonia ›
- Austin tech salaries surpass big markets for 2021 - austonia ›
Texas Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlingers' death this spring was the result of an accidental drug overdose, according to a statement by the late student's family.
According to the statement, the 20-year-old University of Texas student and Westlake High grad overdosed on pills believed to be Xanax laced with Fentanyl, an often-deadly combo that has resulted in thousands of accidental fatalities nationwide.
Ehlinger was found dead off campus May 6 in a tragedy that shook the Austin and UT community, as well as Ehlinger's family, including his brother, former UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who now plays for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.
An honorable mention All-State player and district defensive MVP while in high school, Ehlinger followed in his brother's footsteps and continued his football career as a walk-on at UT. He was also a sophomore in finance, a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and a member of the Texas Silver Spurs, a student organization that cares for beloved mascot Bevo the Longhorn.
Counterfeit Xanax pills have caused an increasing number of fatalities in the area with 1,000 deaths related to synthetic opioids in the state in 2020. Drug dealers have begun stuffing fentanyl, an opiod that the DEA said can be up to 60 times more deadly than heroin, into pills resembling the prescription anti-anxiety medication and selling them to unwitting customers.
"The spread of counterfeit pills is an ongoing and significant issue throughout our country, particularly in schools, colleges and universities," the the Ehlinger family said in a statement. "As our family continues to process Jake's death, we felt it was important to share these details with the hope that Jake will not have died in vain. We pray that sharing Jake's story will help shed light on this problem and prevent other families from also tragically losing a loved one."
To combat the surge of deaths, Austin police now have access to a supply of Narcan, a drug that can combat the effects of an opiod overdose. Though it's not mandatory, APD officers can now check out supplies of the drug when responding to calls. The department had almost completed training on the drug by June, according to a KXAN report.
"You can talk to a number of families that have had family members die because of opioid overdoses and if this was an option to help their loved one or save their loved one, I'm sure that every single one of them would tell you that it was incredibly important that we now have this incredible tool in our tool belt," Assistant Chief Scott Perry said in the report.
Ehlinger is remembered by his brother, Sam, his mother Jena, his sister Morgen and the University of Texas community. Ehlinger's father, Ross, died of an apparent heart attack while swimming in a triathlon in 2013.
"(Jake) was his dad's little buddy, and they shared an unbreakable bond," Jake's obituary read. "His father's spirit was alive and well in every part of Jake's life. Tragic life circumstances created a unique opportunity for Sam and Jake to uplift and empower each other. They were each other's biggest fans. Their mother, Jena, as well as their sister, Morgen, were the loves of Jake's life. Everyone will miss his giant hugs, but no one more than Jena and Morgen."
- Austinite Hudson Card confirmed for starting quarterback in Week 1 ... ›
- UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger gets picked up by Colts in NFL draft ... ›
- Jake Ehlinger, brother of quarterback, Sam Ehlinger found dead ... ›
- Austin-area governments are joining a multi-billion dollar opioid ... ›
- Opinion: Opioid overdose deaths are accelerating. Policing isn't the ... ›
- Obituary for Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger as funeral set for ... ›
- Jake Ehlinger death: Funeral held for Texas football player in Austin ›
- Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger laid to rest Wednesday | KXAN ... ›
- Texas LB Jake Ehlinger, brother of Sam Ehlinger, found dead in Austin ›
Eight of the world's best Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes flew into Austin in September to be in the new hub for the sport. But after over a decade of fighting together, they'll no longer be under the same name.
The legendary Danaher Death Squad, which started in 2007 and was led by black belt John Danaher, made a highly-publicized split in late July while in Puerto Rico, with Danaher, legend Gordon Ryan and teammate Gary Tonon announcing the aptly-titled "New Wave Jiu Jitsu" as their new studio to open soon in Austin.
Missing from the new roster were former teammates Craig Jones, Ethan Crelinstein, Nick Rodriguez and even Ryan's younger brother, Nicky Ryan. The new crew announced that day that they would also be forming a new studio with the tongue-in-cheek title "B Team Jiu Jitsu."
Jiu jitsu greats Craig Jones (left) and Gordon Ryan have opened rival studios in Austin.
Both teams chose to move to Austin, a hotbed for the sport that the B Team's Seth Belisle said is becoming a "mecca for jiu-jitsu." With plenty of renowned studios, jiu-jitsu enthusiasts like Joe Rogan coming into town and the presence of Flo Grappling, the sport's premier media outlet, Belisle said there's now "more jiu-jitsu here than anywhere in the world."
While Belisle, an Austin native, handles the business side for the crew, the team's coaching is headed by Jones, a leopard-print wearing Aussie who has been known to sport assless chaps and places importance on the lighter side of things (the studio advertises that they train "Mexican ground karate," a name they created for jiu-jitsu).
Rumors abound about the famed fighters' breakup, including money issues in the Ryan family or a well-rehearsed PR stunt, but Jones told Austonia that the split of the Death Squad simply comes down to personal differences between the fighters.
"It wasn't an amicable breakup at all," Jones said. "What Gordan represents is quite controversial... I would say there would be no line he wouldn't cross to promote a grappling match. So in that sense, we're sort of focused on a different, more positive sort of vibe."
B Team and New Wave alike are opening at a critical time for jiu-jitsu, as the sport slowly becomes a household name. Now, top fighters can make a living from their sport while still maintaining a much lower profile than MMA fighters or boxers.
That name recognition and B Team's positive attitude drew in droves of new trainees, with many opting to move to Austin solely to train at B Team.
"Jiu-jitsu is a relatively new sport," Belisle said. "If you love basketball, it's impossible for you to say, 'I'm going to go play with LeBron James and learn from him this weekend... in jiu-jitsu, that's possible. You have access to the stars of the sport because it hasn't really blown up yet. It's something special."
After an open house that saw over 150 athletes show up, the team realized they needed to become more exclusive. Now, the studio trains only the "Olympians" of the sport, something that sets them apart from other local studios. They also frequently bring in celebrities of the sport for training sessions, including famed female fighter Ffion Eira Davies.
"We're obviously a new gym, but we're probably some of the best guys in the world," Jones said.
Meanwhile, New Wave is training at the famed Renzo Gracie Studio, Danaher's former trainer, as they wait for a new studio.
Will the world's two best teams soon have showdowns in the Texas capital?
While it's unclear whether or not things will get personal (no brother vs. brother matchup is on the horizon), trainees under each studio went head-to-head for the first time Wednesday as New Wave's Gordon Ryan announced his first match out of semi-retirement. Ryan, often lauded as the best grappler in the world, forced UFC fighter Phillip Rowe to submit four times in the 15-minute friendly exhibition match at Austin's Palmer Events Center.
But Rowe, who was first a jiu-jitsu athlete before switching to UFC, said he didn't know about the beef and was just looking to train under his favorite athletes, Jones and Rodriguez.
He competed for a few reasons—including a break from UFC and a chance to give BJJ a bigger name—but he mostly came into town for the fun of it. Ryan and Rowe talked often prior to the meet, with Rowe gifting Ryan a Bumpboxx, or decorated boombox, in honor of Ryans' father. The respect was mutual—Ryan shouted out Rowe after the match for coming out with a broken hand and the death of some loved ones a week prior.
The match was the first indirect competition between the two gyms. Jones said they won't be training with the goal of fighting any of their former New Wave compadres.
"I don't know what's going to happen ultimately," Jones said. "Because obviously, we're not friendly as it is right now, but I mean. I wouldn't go so far as to train someone that was going to compete against them directly."
But with B Team fighters like Nick Rodriguez expressing their interest in fighting in the future and both gyms training for the WNO Championships in 2022, it's almost inevitable that the former teammates will find themselves on either side of the mat sooner or later.
"'I'd be lying if I said that every day since I started jiu-jitsu my goal is to beat Gordon. I'd be lying if I was saying that isn't true," Rodriguez told the Jason Chambers podcast. "My goal is to be the best grappler in the world and nothing less. That's an old teammate that I have to go through to knock him out and get to the top, then that's fine with me."
Atop one of Austin's signature rolling hilltops, 1501 Ridgecrest Drive is similar to one of the plush palaces that one might find in Calabasas. For $10.9 million, the home has four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and caps at 10,498 square feet.
Park in the massive, fully air-conditioned garage before walking in, where you'll have eight full spaces to park your collection of cars. If you're not a collector, the garage makes an excellent studio space.
The wide-open living spaces will draw your eyes to the two-story ceilings, glass catwalk, integrated fireplace and wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pool.
Though the house was built in 2011, it doesn't show its age. Sleek, clean lines lead seamlessly from the formal living area to an elite open-plan kitchen. Separated by a 25-foot waterfall island that can seat at least eight people, the kitchen is fitted with only the finest Miele and Subzero appliances. The custom cabinets are just as pricey as the rest of the place, finished with custom high-gloss Aston Martin (you read that right) paint.
Upstairs in the sprawling master's suite, there are enough amenities to never have to set foot outside again. Armani tile floors, space for living and a walk-in showcase closet lead into the resort-style bathroom, where you'll find dual vanities, a walk-in shower and a lounging bathtub.
The bedroom is a quick elevator trip away from the "party" room, complete with a bar, wine room and movie theater, only the best for entertaining. If your guests are staying over, rest assured they'll be comfortable with the kitchenette, washer and dryer and spa-like bath in their suite.
Though summer has passed, you can still enjoy the grand lap pool's unobstructed Hill Country views, many private lounging areas, grill a homemade snack at the outdoor kitchen or shoot some hoops at the newly-added court.
The listing is held by Compass' Gary Dolch.
- Two luxury Austin hotels listed on Conde Nast Travelers list - austonia ›
- Austin's luxury Soho House opens today for local creatives - austonia ›
- What $10 million or more can get you in Austin luxury homes ... ›
- Austin luxury real estate market booms in pandemic - austonia ›