Geekdom Touts Five-Year Rise of Downtown San Antonio’s Tech Scene

San Antonio—Downtown San Antonio has been better known for its tourist attractions in recent decades than its business activity. In the last five years, however, a tech corridor has emerged in the sprawling city’s urban core. Multiple co-working spaces, various accelerator programs, and infrastructure investments like a new tech-focused high school are helping San Antonio’s downtown start to keep pace with more established tech capitals like Austin or Boulder, CO.

Geekdom, a co-working space that was created in 2011 by Rackspace co-founder and executive Graham Weston and fellow entrepreneur Nick Longo, was among the first-movers in that downtown tech expansion. The organization released an economic impact report today on how San Antonio’s downtown tech scene has changed since the co-working space was founded.

In short: Geekdom now has 1,200 members who help operate more than 500 companies in the Rand building on Houston Street, a few blocks from San Antonio’s River Walk. Since 2011, the companies that have worked in the Geekdom space have raised $68.8 million in venture capital, while five companies have been acquired, according to the report.

Meanwhile, 72 of the Geekdom companies have created 658 new jobs over the past five years, according to Geekdom, which pay a median salary of about $65,000 annually. Geekdom says 32 of its members expect to hire a total of 112 more workers in the first half of 2017. Geekdom says its member companies expect about $35.7 million in combined revenue this year.

While Geekdom has dozens of startups filling up the top three floors of the Rand building, other businesses like Google Fiber, the Rackspace Open Cloud Academy, Jungle Disk, WP Engine, and the Rivard Report are filling out the rest of the space. Geekdom moved to the Rand building in 2014 after growing too big for the Weston Centre, the same building that was the first home to cloud computing giant Rackspace in 1999, according to Geekdom CEO Lorenzo Gomez.

A little further down Houston Street, the San Antonio Entrepreneur Center offers a co-working space to startups of all kinds, not just tech. It opened its doors in February, and used the blueprint of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center to launch.

Meanwhile, in June, Texas grocer H-E-B announced plans to spend $3.6 million to create a system of charter high schools, including one focused on technology and entrepreneurship downtown. Weston’s nonprofit 80/20 Foundation provided another matching $600,000 toward the work.

Techstars brought an accelerator program to San Antonio in 2012, Techstars Cloud, which ran four different programs before ending in 2016. A venture capital firm, Geekdom Fund, launched in 2013 and has invested about $860,000 into San Antonio startups since, according to the Geekdom report.

The Geekdom co-working space was the first office for businesses such as coding school Codeup and virtual reality maker Merge VR. Geekdom says that the 658 jobs created by its member companies would make it the 17th largest employer in San Antonio. H-E-B and USAA, the financial services business for members of the military, are the largest with 20,000 and 17,000, respectively.

“Not only did we outgrow the Weston Centre, take over the Rand Building and fill it with tech companies, but we also kicked off an urban renaissance that will transform San Antonio’s downtown into a tech hub for decades to come,” Gomez wrote in an introduction to the report.

Geekdom has also served a lot of coffee, too—about 1.74 million cups since it opened in 2011, according to the report.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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