Why Colorado? Come for the Mountains, Stay for the Culture
A pitch for why Colorado is a great place to start or grow your career
I’ve worked in the tech industry more than 20 years, at companies all across the tech spectrum – from Match.com to HomeAdvisor. My career has taken me across the country from Dallas to Philadelphia and Denver.
Despite the well-known brands I’ve been a part of, I am an atypical tech CEO having worked outside of the traditional east and west coast corridors – Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. As a matter of fact, I did something unthinkable at the peak of the first internet wave: I moved a company from San Francisco to Dallas.
Being part of the team that moved Match.com out of San Francisco in 1999, it might be unsurprising that HomeAdvisor is headquartered in Golden just outside of Denver, as you head to the mountains. And, given that I’ve worked in non-traditional tech cities, it should be even less surprising that I am a big supporter of the Pivot to Colorado initiative.
Pivot to Colorado, a coalition of nine Colorado-based tech companies, (including HomeAdvisor) launched with one shared goal in mind: To bring more tech talent to work in Colorado and help everyone realize what an amazing place it is to start or grow your career or business.
While San Francisco is still one of the world’s tech hubs, it is getting harder and more expensive to operate there. However, there is a new trend emerging as technology becomes more commoditized and running a tech-based business is structurally easier to execute.
A new tier of cities – even whole states – are viewed as affordable, presenting high quality of life alternatives. I’ve had many colleagues and employees who left San Francisco or Brooklyn, not because they couldn’t cut it in those places, but because they were at a life-stage crossroads or simply wanted a new and equally interesting life experience.
So, here’s my pitch for why Colorado is a great place to start or grow your career.
First, I was pretty skeptical when I moved here to take the role of CEO in 2011. I had always known Denver, and to some degree Colorado in general, as a stop-over on the way to skiing and the Rockies. I was worried things would be sleepy, slow and full of outdoor enthusiasts who viewed work as a means to support their lifestyle.
Instead, what I found surprised me and truly paralleled what I saw happening in the earlier days of Austin, Texas (where I went to college). Colorado, and more specifically the Denver area where I landed, was changing rapidly and becoming a city with great food, hipster-infused nightlife and a broad spectrum of things to do for someone who enjoyed the mountains, but wasn’t here solely for an outdoor lifestyle.
In 2011 I realized Denver was in the midst of its own “Austin moment” and it hasn’t slowed down since then.
And yes, the Rocky Mountains make for a stunning daily backdrop, even on that rare rainy — or snowy — day. And with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, those who live in the Centennial state often spend time outdoors; hiking, camping, canoeing, skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, paddle boarding…you name it.
But there’s more to Colorado than just the mountains. We’re regularly one of the top-ranked states for our quality of life. This year, we placed 10th in the U.S. News & World Reports' list.
Colorado’s economy is ranked first in the country, our job growth is ranked sixth, our entrepreneurship is ranked eighth, our patent creation ranked ninth, and our venture capital ranked sixth.
A recent report from IT trade association CompTIA found that Denver added more than 5,000 tech jobs in 2017 — the tenth highest number of any U.S. city.
Colorado has the 2nd highest concentration of tech jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Denver as the 3rd best place to live.
Colorado Springs, (where HomeAdvisor also happens to have an office) ranked second on that list.
Colorado has the second-most breweries in the nation, with nearly 350 and counting – that breaks down to six breweries for every 100,000 residents. And Denver is undergoing an art revolution with two distinct art districts, a world class art museum and vibrant street art. In fact, later this year, HomeAdvisor will be opening a new office in one of these districts.
But It’s not just affordability, job prospects and quality of life that keeps cities in Colorado landing on these lists. It’s the explosion of culture, too.
At HomeAdvisor, we take culture seriously, and we make sure it reflects what our state has to offer. Since the foothills are our backyard, you don’t have to look too hard to find employees on a team hike, taking a lunchtime yoga class, renting a bike to ride around the campus or joining our weekly walk series.
Colorado and cities like Denver are no longer just your “gateway to the mountains.” Instead, the mountains are a beautiful backdrop to a cool, vibrant, high quality of life where tech talent is flourishing and tech businesses, large and small, are thriving.
"Why Colorado is an ongoing series from The Colorado Technology Recruiting Coalition, highlighting the region’s thriving technology industry and all the great things Colorado has to offer. Here's more information on The Colorado Technology Recruiting Coalition.
Chris Terrill is the CEO of ANGI Homeservices.