Thursday, July 19, 2007

San Antonio, the quiet tech giant

I just got back from a family trip to Washington D.C. over the Fourth of July holiday. My son, Pete, wanted to visit the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress as his graduation present from high school. While there, I helped a New York engineer get a ride to a local Target so he could replace a batter for his car’s key fob. During our drive, I mentioned that I was from San Antonio working as a publicist in the technology sector. His first comments were typical: “I didn’t know there was technology in San Antonio, but I knew there was a bunch of it in Austin.”
That’s one of the reasons why I volunteered to work as the volunteer press officer for the DCI aka the Digital Convergence Initiative. Not only do I want to strengthen the relationship of San Antonio’s growing tech presence in the region outside of Texas, but I want to also build the relationship between Austin and San Antonio. I once lived in Austin while assigned to the public affairs office at Bergstrom AFB, Texas (Note: Both Hunter S. Thompson and I edited the base paper, the Jet Gazette), and like all other residents, I considered San Antonio as a nice place for a weekend getaway.
It wasn’t until I got assigned to San Antonio, and I retired from here, that I noticed the difference again in the two cities. San Antonio is a combination of retired military, conservative German and Hispanics. Compared to Austin, it has a different attitude, and driving through San Antonio is a lot easier than Austin. After leaving Bergstrom in 1982, I knew Austin had grown into a technopolitan community. Whenever I get to Austin, I feel a different kind of vibe.
Yet, even though we are somewhat different, both communities can become the base for a growing convergence of technology. In San Antonio, we have some of the top cryptologists in the world as well as some of the leading biomedical research facilities. And, it’s not just these two industries. There’s a growing expansion of other technologies. BroadRamp, a client of mine, has some major deals for its streaming media services. Rackspace is one of the largest content delivery storage facilities in the world, and my friends at Bauhaus have launched an animation sharing site.
I hope to learn about the growing technologies in Austin and to help strengthen the relationship between both communities. Sloan Foster, DCI’s new president and another SA resident, asked me to serve on the board, and I am willing to volunteer time to bring the two communities as well as others together. Already, I know where the good pit stops are on I-35. (Note: While I love the Longhorn CafĂ© in San Antonio, you can’t get a better milk shake at the Steak n Shake at Exit 227 near Austin.) I am hoping that through my work on the board, that I will help bring convergence to our two communities and hopefully get a free shake or two from the Steak ‘n’ Shake frequent customer card.

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