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Austin, Texas: The City of the Eternal Boom

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I'm not sure I'd agree that Austin is the "most talked-about place in the country -- if not the world" but I certainly think this look back at its development over the last few decades is illuminating as well as fun.

It really did accelerate in the last decade after Twitter's sxsw launch in 2007.

Between 2008 and 2011, three towering condos opened—the 360 (44 stories), Spring (43), and the Austonian (56)—as well as the massive W Hotel and the state-of-the-art Moody Theater. The city’s high-tech world was accelerating too. In 2010 Facebook opened an office, and Samsung began expanding its facility to a mammoth 2.3 million square feet. In 2012 Apple began buying land and adding to its campus as well. That year venture capitalists invested more than $620 million in local start-ups. In 2013 President Obama visited Austin, famously saying, “The tech sector now drives more than one quarter of Austin’s economy—and all of this has helped make Austin one of the fastest-growing cities in America.”

This year, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of IBM, tech drives Austin like nothing else. There are more than 5,000 local tech companies in Austin employing more than 120,000 people. They make chips and computers but also software, mobile apps, games, and wearables. They collect and store data, create visual effects for movies, and develop new social media platforms. There are nearly 200 “life science” companies that develop software for education, biotech, and health tech. The hardware and manufacturing companies are mostly in the suburbs; the software companies are downtown, some with offices on Congress Avenue, the most expensive street in the state.

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