After five years and an estimated 1.74 million cups of coffee, Geekdom released an economic impact report outlining its effect on San Antonio’s technology ecosystem.
More than 650 jobs were created that serve 78,000 customers and clients per year, said Lorenzo Gomez, CEO of the first co-working space in San Antonio. About $69 million was raised in capital, and Geekdom companies reported $35.7 million combined projected revenue. And those estimates are conservative, Gomez added.
If Geekdom and its community companies were one big employer, it would be the 17th largest in San Antonio, topping NuStar Energy‘s 550 employees in 2015.
“I’ve been asked for many years for statistics like this,” Gomez told reporters on Friday. He and his team spent three months combing through data and conducting member surveys to compile the impact report. “I’ve never had answers for those questions until now. … These numbers have really exceeded our expectations.”
Click here to download the report.
Geekdom now has more than 500 community companies and 1,200 members, according to the report. On average, it hosts more than 500 events and 40 tours of its almost 41,000 sq. ft. office and event space each year.
Gomez and Geekdom co-founder Nick Longo, entrepreneur, “geek” mentor, and founder of CoffeeCup Software, answered a series of questions from membership at the Geekdom Event Centre on Monday morning after Gomez gave an overview of the report. Graham Weston, downtown real estate mogul and chairman and co-founder of Rackspace and Geekdom, was unable to attend the event.
It’s the human capital that was built and the people behind the numbers that inspire Gomez.
“This ecosystem is for the people that are here,” he said, and open and welcoming to newcomers. The tech ecosystem is accessible to anyone willing to learn.
Of the 112 projected future job openings in community companies by mid-2017, 93% will not require a college degree, according to the report. The median salary for these companies is $65,010, compared to $46,317, the median 2014 salary in San Antonio.
“People think you have to be a Steve Jobs character” in order to thrive in tech, Gomez said, and that’s simply not the case.
Other numbers in the report demonstrate San Antonio’s rising stature in the investment community. Investors have given “$6.2 million in funding to companies based outside of San Antonio and nationally,” according to the report.
“This dispels the myth that there’s no money in San Antonio,” Gomez said.
When Geekdom was founded in November 2011, a handful of members and companies occupied a single floor at the Weston Centre office tower. (The Rivard Report was one of them). It outgrew that space in two years and added another floor for its membership. Geekdom companies began moving into the Rand Building, purchased by Weston, in April 2014 where several other independent companies started purchasing offices and entire floors including Google Fiber, Rackspace Open Cloud Academy, TechStars, Tech Bloc, WP Engine, and Build Sec Foundry, a cybersecurity incubator.
The data included in the report does not reflect every single business in the tech ecosystem, just those based out of Geekdom. About 60% of these companies responded to the survey and some data was unavailable, but Gomez said he’s comfortable defending these conservative estimates.
“Had we gotten 100% (to respond), I have no doubt they would be higher,” he said.
The downtown tech ecosystem has grown exponentially over the past several years. Many companies have “graduated” out of Geekdom and relocated to nearby offices. Some have moved or were started downtown to become part of the growing San Antonio Tech District.
The report also gives Geekdom an opportunity to solidify its mission statement, which at first was focused on creating the “next Rackspace,” Gomez said, but “that was too limiting.”
Now it reads: “Our mission is to create a San Antonio ecosystem where the next 10,000 tech jobs will be born.”
The report also takes into account that it can’t take credit for some of its partners’ and members’ success.
TechStars Cloud companies alone, for instance, have raised $246.6 million, but are technically their own startup accelerator. WP Engine is based out of Austin, so Geekdom counted the jobs created locally, but not the capital or revenue raised by the company as a whole. Some companies, like the San Antonio Business Journal, are non-traditional corporate members, so Geekdom didn’t count their hires or revenues. The Rivard Report, now a business member of Geekdom, was founded in Geekdom but has since branched out on its own. Our office is on the second floor of the Rand Building.
“Any company that came and left, we are going to exclude from our data,” Gomez said. “These are only companies that we feel we’ve had a direct contribution (to).”
However, there is plenty of room for growth as San Antonio trails well behind nationally-known tech hubs like Silicon Valley in California and Austin.
“It’s not perfect, it hasn’t been solved, but there is a lot going on,” Gomez said.
Beyond stats, the report briefly dives into emerging trends at Geekdom and in the local tech ecosystem.
Larger tech companies have a tendency to breed smaller startups and spinoffs once they become established. Rackspace is no exception. Several former so-called “rackers” have founded or led new companies that use technology or services developed at or inspired by their work at Rackspace. Jungle Disk, Promoter.io, HelpSocial, and ScaleFT are just a few examples.
More and more Geekdom companies have strong ties to Mexico, Gomez said – another emerging trend.
“We have a lot of activity from our neighbors from the south and we think it’s one of the specialties that we can extremely differentiate from other cities in,” he said.
The cybersecurity industry in San Antonio is emerging and changing everyday, as evidenced by the Build Sec Foundry incubator.
In the past, this industry has been largely consultant-based, Gomez said, but “the next wave is product-based cybersecurity.”
The fourth trend noted in the report for Geekdom specifically is the ability for its companies to scale for growth. In other words, “attracting companies that desire a vibrant community with a robust talent pool, manageable overhead, and an energetic vibe.”
Speaking more broadly to the entire tech ecosystem, the report notes the talent pipeline and access to capital as emerging trends. The former is an issue that many different companies have tried to tackle including Codeup, The Iron Yard, Open Cloud Academy, Austin Coding Academy, and other boot-camp coding programs. CAST Tech, a downtown tech high school that’s gathering public, philanthropic, and private funding, will open its doors in the fall of 2017 and direct students toward higher education and careers in tech.
But there’s a lot more work to be done to connect students to the local tech industry, Longo said.