Red state politics are too much of a headache for tech.

Is the Texas boom town of Austin losing its luster?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, investors and startup founders alike flocked to the Texas capital, attracted to the lower cost of living, “hip” lifestyle and business-friendly environment (i.e. no state income taxes).

But as the years have gone by, it appears that some have lost their enchantment with Austin, to the point where companies and founders are also leaving or looking to leave the city. The summers are brutal — 2023’s was the hottest on record with 78 days of triple-digit temperatures. The startup scene, some argue, is lackluster. And funding — especially for midsize companies — can be hard to come by. A perceived lack of diversity is also an issue.

It’s hard to see this in isolation from red-state belligerence. While places like Austin are liberal, progressive and welcoming for left and centrist-leaning tech workers, the folks I’ve spoken to don’t want to move to Texas. Abortion bans, anti-trans laws, etc, have made it simply too complicated as an HQ location. As Wired pointed out, although companies are largely staying quiet on abortion issues, it’s a difficult balancing act. One on hand, they’re paying for travel and healthcare costs for out-of-state abortions. On the other, they’re trying not to offend increasingly capricious politicians. Investing dollars in Texas is innately a political decision, and at some point, it stops being worth it.

@Westenberg logo
Subscribe to @Westenberg and never miss a post.