ATC Weekend Update | May 14, 2016

In This Weekend Update

Ross Announces ATC’s first sponsor mingle and member happy hour of 2016
Barbary reflects on the criticism Austin has received after Prop 1
We share the Tech Titan Reverse Pitch Day Event
Upcoming Events


Sponsor Mingle and Member Happy Hour

Dia Dhuit (“Hello” in Irish),
My name is Ross Kiernan and I am the newest edition to the ATC team, who is responsible for Member Servies and Marketing. As member satisfaction is the most important part of my job, I am delighted to announce our upcoming Sponsor Mingle and Member Happy Hour on June 2, kicking off at 5 PM. This is a great opportunity to put some faces to names, connect with members in the community, and meet the new CEO Barbary along with the rest of the ATC team.
Members: Contact to register for the event.
Non-Members: Contact for membership enquiries.
Finally I’d also like to give a big thank you to our sponsors of the event, Relayware.


Innovation 512

My sense, from the discussions I’ve been a part of in the last couple of weeks, is that by the time May 7th rolled around, many Austinites, including those in the innovation sector, were feeling exhausted by the social media conversation, robo-calls, mail-box stuffers, canvassing, op-ed pieces, and yard signs in support of and against Prop 1.  The information and opinion overload was everywhere you turned and sometimes verging on the vitriolic from both sides of the argument.

That all being said, I’m not sure that any of us could have predicted the volume of scathing criticism Our Fair City has received from those outside Austin as the result of the defeat of Prop 1.   The National Review has declared us “less hip than Provo”, and “second-rate”;Forbespublished an article with a shouted headline that could have been crafted by the team at TMZ, “By Losing Uber, Austin Is No Longer A Tech Capital”; and a wide variety of actual influentials and self-considered influentials have declared that Austin is dead as an innovation zone.  I suppose in the era of grabbing social media attention before the reader’s 8 second attention span leaps to another subject*, these are the sort of sound-bites that keep the site traffic coming to satisfy hungry media brand advertising.  However, they paint a shamefully inaccurate picture of innovation here in Austin, the values we share as a community (even with our disagreements), and the current excellence and future potential of the tech and life science industries here.

Let’s start with education.  Organizations in Austin are working overtime to find ways to introduce kids to STEM education and entrepreneurialism, and to create long-range programs to lift an entire generation out of poverty through knowledge initiatives.  The City of Austin’s Einstein Project, the Entrepreneurs Foundation Lemonade Day, and the ATC Foundation’s STEM edu volunteer platform are just three examples of how both civic and private teams are using innovation to build a stronger future for our kids and a future workforce for our companies.  The Cockrell School of Engineering at UT is one of the top engineering schools in the US, and Dell Medical School is going to be a world-class innovator in the business of healthcare.  I see a future where tech and life science come together in Austin to create transformation that will impact not just the Central Texas Region, but the rest of the world as well.

I defy anyone who was at this week’s well-attended Austin A-List event, put on by the Chamber’s Innovate Austin Initiative and SXSW, to say that we are not a leader in tech innovation or a tech hub.  Galvanize’s Jim Dieters called us a “Boomtown”, and rightly so.  Listening to the speakers and winners on stage that night from Joe Ross of CSID, to Mike Maples Jr and Joe Liemandt, to the winning teams of companies like TrendKite, Civitas Learning, OJO Labs, Firefly Space Systems and others, we clearly have an exceptionally creative, passionate, driven and productive tech community here in Austin.  Pair that with established and excellent players like WP Engine, HomeAway, SailPoint, BigCommerce, Silicon Labs, among others; the big and growing presence of global giants like Google, Apple, Oracle, Under Armour, Facebook, Moovel, etc.; and a rich network of startup incubators and accelerators such as Capital Factory….Well, you get the picture.

What about our shared values?  Even when they don’t always agree on which way to vote, our Austin thought leaders are looking for the same outcome:  a great future for our city and region and a richly innovative environment where businesses and people can flourish.  We all want a supportive community which understands and values the passion and creativity of the tech industry and the products we create, in the same way they value the passion and creativity of our artists and musicians.  Those of us who have worked in product development know that there is a grace and kind of poetry to an exceptionally architected software product, and that creating something that is of service to our customers and figuring out how to do so can often be a brilliant interpretive dance of data, insights, requirements and gut understanding.

Josh Baer, Dan Graham, Eugene Sepulveda, and Mayor Adler have all spoken and written eloquently about the value of innovation here in Austin; they have pointed to the need to create and grow jobs and businesses, and find solutions to the challenges that come with the rapid growth our vibrant city is experiencing as the anchor for the fastest growing Metro area in the country for the 5th year in a row.  And they know and have expressed that we have to come together after the vote and work collaboratively.

Collaboration, even when messy, really is the Austin way; we truly are one of the most genial cities I know of, even when we are disagreeing with each other.  It is one of the things that makes Austin such a great place to live.  I’m convinced that we’re not against Ridesharing at all; I think we just find strong-arm tactics distasteful.

It is definitely time for tech to have a voice in broader community decisions, and there are coordinated efforts underway to do just that.  So much can be accomplished if we take time away from our jobs to be humble evangelists for what we bring to the table.  We have barely scratched the surface of the conversation between tech and our local civic leadership, and all voter encouragement efforts aside in this last election, we have done a poor job, to-date, of getting out the vote and expressing our point of view through the electoral process.  The defeat of Prop 1 was handed down by just 6.5% of the registered voters in the City of Austin.  Tech is 25% of Austin GDP and 1/5th of all jobs—imagine what we could create if we were as organized about our civic participation as we are about building and launching cool software products?

I’m so looking forward to the rest of the year; I’m excited about the ways that the ATC is going to be participating in and providing a place for conversations that are meaningful to our membership and to the broader Austin community and I welcome your feedback and ideas.



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Member Event: Tech Titans Reverse Pitch Day

June 2, 2016.
12.00 PM – 6.00 PM CST
University of Texas at Dallas – Texas Instruments Auditorium ECSS Building

This event will educate early stage growth companies and entrepreneurs with IoT, M2M and BigData/Analytics solutions on the market and product needs of major firms. Traditionally, entrepreneurs and start-up companies pitch their ideas of products and solutions to investors (venture capitalists and angel investors) to help them get validation of their business plans via investments from industry experts. This year we are reverse engineering the process. Keynote speakers will discuss the market opportunities and panelists will pitch to entrepreneurs, university researchers, start-ups and emerging fast growth companies, outlining the areas of IoT, M2M and BigData/Analytics technology they are interested in for the future, and might consider acquiring such solutions or investing in companies developing such technology solutions that are vital to their company’s growth. This event will feature some of the regions F500/F1000 companies discussing their side of the innovation story and how they see IoT / M2M / BigData & Analytics advancing their business.  Companies participating in the event include:




Capital One

GE Ventures

Pioneer Natural Resources



State Farm Insurance

Tickets are $100 general admission | $75 for ATC Members | $75 Tech Titans members
Members can email for discount code
The Registration deadline is May 31!

Upcoming Events

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