San Antonio has been booming the past few years. You see the city on all of these lists — fastest growing, booming, etc. — and for me at least it’s a far cry from what people used to say about San Antonio when I went to high school there (“Keep San Antonio Lame,” etc.).
But now that San Antonio may be losing the celebrity of Mayor Julián Castro to the Administration and Rackspace to an acquisition, the city is going to have to ask itself some tough questions. What’s going to happen to all of those high-paying jobs, that reverberated in the community, helping everyone do a bit better? What about UTSA and other schools that began working to funnel high tech workers to Rackspace and its tech ecosystem?
It’s unlikely an Amazon or Google or Microsoft or whoever ends up buying Rackspace will keep most of these high-paying jobs in San Antonio in the even of an acquisition. But I’d argue that changes to San Antonio’s economy wouldn’t just affect the Alamo City — but Texas’ entire tech ecosystem.
One thing I always loved about Texas, as compared to California say, is that the state operates like an organism in the sense that every region is important to every other region in so many ways. Because most cities are a few hours’ drive away, you can live in San Antonio, jaunt up to Austin for a meeting, to Houston for the weekend, and Dallas for Christmas. Or whatever — the point is, there’s a flow of people, commerce and ideas between all of Texas’ cities.
And as the state has been growing in its tech potential in the past few years, hotspots of particular innovation have sprung up in each city — but no tech hub is an island. I firmly believe that San Antonio’s success as a tech city came in part because Dallas, Austin, Houston and even El Paso were also ramping up their tech economies in ways that benefitted everyone.
Business is business, and it would seem that Rackspace has matured as a company to the point where it has no choice but to sell out to a Goliath, now that everyone wants in on the Cloud. But what’s the Plan B, for San Antonio, for the rest of the state?
I think San Antonio is much more than a one-company town, but Rackspace has been instrumental in creating an environment there where startups and entrepreneurs can make it happen. These folks, in turn, find allies and collaborators in other Texas cities, which makes the Lone Star State a better cradle for tech all over the place.
Whatever happens with Rackspace, I hope that everyone in San Antonio is planning for the next big thing — and that everyone else in the state is doing the same.