High-Tech Hot Spots

Austin Power

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."

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This article was originally published in the November 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: High-Tech Hot Spots.

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