Austinites, watch out; another tech company is headed into town.
Just days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed during an interview that he has moved to Texas, and less than two weeks after HP Enterprise, a spin-out of the iconic Silicon Valley company Hewlett-Packard, announced that it is separately moving to Texas, yet another of the Bay Area’s best-known brands — Oracle — is pulling up stakes and headed east to Texas, too.
The news was first reported by Bloomberg. Oracle confirmed the move in a statement sent to TechCrunch, saying that along with a “more flexible employee work location policy,” the company has changed its corporate headquarters from Redwood Shores, California, to Austin. “We believe these moves best position Oracle for growth and provide our personnel with more flexibility about where and how they work.”
A spokeswoman declined to answer more questions related to the move, but Oracle says that “many” of its employees can choose their office location, as well as continue to work from home part time or full time.
HPE and Oracle aren’t the first major tech companies to plot such moves in recent times. Late last year, the brokerage giant Charles Schwab said it was leaving the Bay Area for Texas as it was announcing its $26 billion merger with TD Ameritrade, though it chose Dallas, about 200 miles away from Austin.
Tech giants Apple and Google have also been expanding their presence in the state. Apple announced in 2018 that it was building a $1 billion campus in Austin. Meanwhile, Google, which opened its first Austin office 13 years ago, said last year that it was beginning to lease far more space in the city.
Taxes, a more affordable cost of living for employees, a lower cost of doing business and less competition for talent are among the top drivers for the companies’ moves, though there is also a growing sense that culture is a factor, as well.
While California is led by Democrats, Texas is led by Republicans, and as the divide between the two parties grows, so does the divide between their respective supporters, with even self-described centrists saying they feel alienated.
Oracle co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison has notably been one of few top tech execs to openly support President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Joe Lonsdale, a co-founder of the venture firm 8VC and Palantir Technologies (which itself recently headed to Denver from Palo Alto), recently explained his own move this year to Texas from California in the WSJ, writing: “Politics in the state is in many ways closed off to different ideas. We grew weary of California’s intolerant far left, which would rather demonize opponents than discuss honest differences of opinion.”
In a similar vein this fall, in conversation with reporter Kara Swisher, Musk suggested he was also outside of Democratic circles, describing his political views as “socially very liberal and then economically right of center, maybe, or center? I don’t know. Obviously I’m not a communist.”
While Austin is becoming a go-to spot for many of California’s wealthiest contrarians, others are headed to Florida. Coincidentally or not, Florida is another Republican-controlled state that, like Texas, does not collect state tax.
Keith Rabois, a Founders Fund investor who recently left the Bay Area for Miami, contributed to the NeverTrump PAC in 2016 and said his first choice for U.S. president this year was Democratic contender Pete Buttigieg. But he has also worried openly about democratic socialism, of which the GOP has long accused Democrats of promoting.
Venture capitalist David Blumberg, a Trump supporter, is also headed to Miami, he announced recently. Blumberg said he had it with “poor governance at the local level in San Francisco and statewide in California.” Yet he seemed to have grown frustrated with the Bay Area some time ago.
As Blumberg told Vox last year, he believes that tech platforms are biased against conservatives. He also told the outlet that the Valley was home to many more Trump supporters than might be imagined, and that “we generally keep our heads down” because “people who go out publicly for Republicans and for Trump can get business banned or get blackballed.”
Impetus notwithstanding, a longer-term question is whether these moves — particularly for those individuals and smaller outfits that are relocating — will prove permanent.
At least one tech exec, Twitter and Medium co-founder Ev Williams, has returned to the Bay Area after moving away — in his case, to New York. Williams, who was largely “looking for a change,” made the move with his family late last year after spending 20 years in the Bay Area, he recently told TechCrunch. Then COVID struck.
“I had never lived in New York and thought, ‘Why not go? Now seems like a good time.’ Turns out I was wrong. [Laughs.] It was a very bad time to move to New York.”