Five years ago, Ross Garber, now 32, left the cold New England climate and moved with his wife to Austin, Texas. (Although he wanted to live and work in high-tech Silicon Valley, they couldn't afford it.)
By 1995, he'd co-founded Vignette Corp., an Internet relationship management company, and soon raised $36 million in venture capital. Flash forward to 1999, when Vignette went public and quickly notched a market cap of about $1.8 billion. Not bad for a guy who just wanted to stay warm.
Today, Garber remains an unabashed Austin-booster. "It's a better environment than Silicon Valley," he says. "People expect to see dry, dusty plains, but this place is green. It's spectacular."
It's also a much better place for tech business than five years ago, Garber says. "This was a village when I arrived," he explains. "Now it's a tech metropolis, with plenty of talent, venture capital and sophistication."
What doesn't he like about Austin? There's a grave shortfall in senior marketing talent, and, yes, sometimes locals do talk funny. But overall, "This is a good place to do business," says Garber. "If I were doing another start-up, Austin still would be very high on my list of places to do it."