- Texas is poised to outpace California in industrial innovation.
- There is a reason venture capitalists are pouring millions of dollars into tech innovation in Texas.
- Texas is home to incredible diversity, a spirit of ingenuity, and major industries that need innovation.
- Yang Tang is the chief technology officer at Houston-based GoExpedi.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
Here’s something you already know: California-based businesses – Tesla, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and many others – have made Texas the state of choice when it comes to relocating headquarters and opening satellite offices for several years now.
The reasons? It’s cheaper to operate a business; there is no state income tax; there is an abundance of land, pro-business policies, lower cost of living, significant talent pool for hiring; and the list goes on and on.
But let’s discuss something that may boggle some minds — at least for those who are out-of-state looking in. Why are tech executives leaving Silicon Valley? It’s easy to understand why an oil and gas company would relocate to Texas — Houston is the energy capital of the world — or even healthcare startups — the city is home to some of the world’s premier medical centers, but why would technology companies leave the reigning epicenter of the tech universe for the Lone Star state?
The primary reason, in my opinion, is because of the opportunities to apply new technologies in our country’s largest industrial sectors. I am Texas’s latest Silicon Valley transplant and am witnessing this firsthand.
Like many other tech executives, I think Texas is positioned to outpace California due to its proximity to the world’s top companies in energy, healthcare, and aerospace, to name a few, and its willingness to innovate with technology in those industries.
That’s why I’m here, leading the technology operations for an emerging e-commerce company for industrial businesses like oil and gas, manufacturing, and others. Before I dive into the immense opportunities for enterprises driven by the state, I’d like to quickly share my journey so you can better understand why there’s no place like Texas.
My father grew up in communist China in tenement housing. Living with his family of 12 in a single room, he was the only child to attend college. He knew it would be nearly impossible to be successful through hard work alone given various cultural shifts by the country following his graduation. Therefore, he moved to the US a few years later and built a career in astrophysics and data mining. He eventually landed a rewarding financial services career in Boston — where I’m from.
I graduated from universities on the East and West coast — most recently the MIT Executive MBA program — and worked most of my career for companies with footprints in Silicon Valley, from Accenture to eBay to Walmart to ABInBev. During my time in that area, I personally witnessed what works and what can be improved upon in an increasingly digital world.
… And I will go to Texas
Don’t get me wrong. Silicon Valley has and will continue to pave the way for some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies, supported by its specialized tech workforce, concentration of capital, and world-class educational institutions. However, in today’s world, I believe the innovation stemming from this region is incremental compared to what I’ve observed in Houston.
Out of all the major and booming markets of Texas that house various large industries I chose Houston as my new hometown for its diversity of people and thought. The city’s major port, healthcare systems, and energy sector have had a significant effect on the local, state, and national economies and have set Houston apart from the rest of Texas. Additionally, as the most diverse city in the country, Houston presents endless opportunities and is a melting pot for new ideas and the spirit of ingenuity — the same spirit and community that created Viet-Cajun Crawfish.
That’s what makes Houston a prime location for the next wave of innovation. Industrial companies in the region are securing millions of venture capital dollars annually — $2.6 billion in total over the last five years — and are allowing engineers, like myself, to do what they do best: use their tech, resources, skills, and knowledge to solve unique and complex issues out in the field. That’s where the true power of technology takes shape and allows us to grow economies, attract more jobs and talent, improve lifestyle and beyond.
Prime examples are the revitalization of the aerospace industry from Elon Musk’s SpaceX in Boca Chica, Texas, and Houston-based biopharma company Nanospectra, which is spearheading a patient-centric use of nanomedicine for the removal of cancerous tissue.
The same yearning for opportunity and innovation my father experienced can now be found in Houston – not just on the East and West coasts. If folks looking in still don’t see Houston and Texas as the next technology mecca, they soon will.