There’s something big brewing in Austin, Texas

And no, I’m not talking about SXSW.

That Peter Kim kid got some of us locals together to write about the intense digital and word of mouth happenings and the place where it’s all happening: Austin, Texas. (Some are calling it “Social Business Capital of the World,” but I don’t like the term “social business.”) You can read excerpts from all the contributors here. Or the individual posts of Aaron Strout, Greg Matthews, Virginia Miracle, Kat Mandelstein and Kate Niederhoffer.   And the following is my take on this great city I call home:

I was born and raised in Dallas and as soon as I graduated from Baylor I set out to explore places other than my home state. Colorado, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina were among them and I never even gave it a se…cond thought about moving back to homeland. But things change. And when an opportunity opened up in Texas, I only had one requirement: I promised myself a long time ago that if I ever made my way back to the state, it’d only be to Austin.

Yes, it’s where the digital space in converging on many levels. But there are also huge opportunities that are growing out of the digital/social space – like marrying online and offline through word of mouth opportunities. And THAT’S what I’m excited to be a part of. The talent and big thinking here constantly blow me away – but it just adds to the great entrepreneurial spirit that exists within both the venture capital backed start-ups and the large, established companies, too.

Like a lot of us on this post, I get asked a lot about what it’s like to live in Austin. Where do I begin? I think my favorite thing is the vibe here. You can walk into just about any establishment and witness a cross-culture of individuals who just accept one another. Seriously. Go to the corner restaurant and you’ll see people completely covered ink sitting next to a few guys in suits over next to a young family wearing shorts and flip-flops with their kids running around the table. It just feels like everyone that’s here BELONGS here. No judgment. No snarky comments about non-native Texans (as they say, the only thing wrong with Austin is that it’s surrounded by Texas). No BS.

As for quality of life – are you kidding me? I live downtown. I walk to work. I walk across the street to the Whole Foods mothership. I walk two blocks to hear some of my favorite bands in the universe or eat at some amazing local restaurants or even lounge on a roof top deck and watch the world go by. It takes two minutes to hit the trail around Town Lake for my morning runs. No complaining here.

The thing I do love is that as the capital of Texas, Austin still has that certain Texas “something” about it. Call is pride. Call it history. Whatever. Yes, you can find people with cowboy hats and boots walking down Congress or at the airport. And I like that. But it’s not shoved down your throat. Oh, it’s there. But it’s a more accepting sense of pride. After all, like my grandfather always said, “Never ask a man where he’s from. If he’s from Texas, he’ll tell ya. If he’s not, don’t embarrass him.”


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  • March 10, 2011

    Ryan Stephens

    Spike – I love this post (and Peter’s) and the contingent of people finding their way to Texas. Though I live in the concrete block/oil haven of Houston (which would surprise you with it’s own social community), and I’m also a little too prideful of this state (yeah – I’m probably one of those), everything you say about Austin is true.

    If we’re being candid, the female scenery in Austin is also great! There’s really something for everyone, and the city has a more open mind than other parts of Texas.

    Besides – your stylish apparel stolen from Geno still works just fine in Austin. I’m thankful I’m back in Texas after spending a year in Charlotte.

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