Ask anyone to identify the center of the tech universe and you’re likely to hear them say, “Silicon Valley”. Turns out, that reply is starting to change. There’s a growing number of tech execs who are leaving the West Coast in favor of the Midwest / Mountain West region – and for a very good reason – quality of life. As the #1 retained executive search firm in Silicon Valley, SPMB is on the front lines of this transformation, and we think it’s a great thing – for these pioneering execs, for our clients, and most importantly, for these rapidly developing tech hubs.
Take a minute to think about it…it won’t take long to name a friend, a colleague, a boss, who recently packed up his/her West Coast life and moved. Shocking at first, right? Move? What? From HERE? Leaving?? But WHY?? Why leave the center of gravity for all things tech, all things startup and sexy? It’s a question that’s being asked more and more: Why are top execs fleeing Silicon Valley and moving to “startup cities” like Boulder, Austin and Salt Lake?
I’ll tell you why….Quality of life. Yes, that tired, old phrase that Executives and Recruiters alike joke about at cocktail parties; the too-easily-dismissed notion that top-tier execs should be willing to sacrifice it all – their personal time, their family time, their life, in support of their job. News flash – quality of life is alive and well – and more Silicon Valley execs are actively seeking it out.
At SPMB, we are seeing – and helping – top executives leave the west coast tech meccas of San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle in greater frequency. And they’re all seeking the same thing – a market that offers them the best of all worlds: a killer job, tier 1 VCs, high growth, challenge, excitement, sexy technology, and big equity payouts. What’s missing? The 90-minute, 15-mile commute; the 14% income tax; 4-figure monthly utility bills; and the $1M+ price of entry on real estate, earning you the right to pay absurd property taxes.
SPMB opened its Boulder, CO office 1.5 years ago to catalyze the growth of these “tier 2” markets, to partner with amazing companies and amazing VCs and help them find those elusive Silicon Valley execs who are seeking just the quality of life that a place like Austin or Boulder can offer. In a very short period of time, we’ve had crazy success – attracting battle-tested, proven leaders out of companies like Twitter, Amazon, Salesforce, and numerous smaller startups who all want the same thing – an opportunity to contribute at a high level without sacrificing their lives – or their families – in the process.
What motivated the move for Execs that SPMB placed in Austin, Salt Lake and Boulder? In their own words:
Why’d you do it?
– “My family. I have a 3-year-old daughter and wanted to provide her with a more family-friendly community than I could in California. Austin gave us what we were looking for – and I didn’t have to sacrifice my career to find it” [CFO from Silicon Valley who moved to Austin]
– “The opportunity. The reality is that the opportunity (company and role) was a great fit for my interests, and the consideration of whether Utah was very secondary. It was more of a question as to whether the relocation would limit my career potential after the considered opportunity – and the answer is surely “no”. Not to mention that the economics of doing so are highly favorable – equivalent / competitive comp, with much lower cost, and greater quality of living (I.e., commute time alone can give you years back.) [President who moved from Seattle to Salt Lake City]
– “Trail running and mountain biking. My husband and I discovered Boulder several years ago and agreed that we’d move here one day. We just needed the right job opportunity to help us get here. This was the just that opportunity, and it happened 5 years sooner than expected.” [CEO from Silicon Valley who moved to Boulder]
With a strong, and growing, stable of local VCs (Foundry Group, Access Venture Partners, EPIC Ventures, Sorenson, Silverton, etc.) coupled with increased investment from both the East and West Coasts (Bessemer, Insight Venture Partners, Sequoia, Accel, Adams Street… all have recent, active investments in these markets), the risk associated with making the move for a single opportunity continues to decline. Add to that an influx of veteran executives who have successfully scaled and exited companies, and there’s no limit to the growth this region can expect to achieve.
It’s no coincidence that Texas, Utah and Colorado were ranked #2, 3, and 4, respectively in the latest CNBC “Top States for Business” report. The word is getting out – you no longer have to sacrifice everything for a good job and the potential of a big payout. Just check your latest LinkedIn updates and you’ll see the proof…SHE JUST MOVED WHERE?? Good for her.
And BTW, it’s summer so I haven’t even mentioned the 2015 snowfall comparisons between Vail and Tahoe….’nuf said.