An Introduction to Silicon Slopes
Image credit: Jaxon Lott, @cactuskace
Utah is home to some of the world’s best ski resorts, national parks and over the past 10 years, one of the fastest-growing technology scenes in the country. As a recent transplant to Salt Lake City, it’s been incredible to witness the region’s growth first hand. As I get familiar with my new home, the following is a look into the region’s biggest companies, its growth trajectory and the companies to watch.
Silicon Slopes by the Numbers
From the end of the great recession in 2009, Utah has emerged as one of the best states in the nation for capital investment with venture capital in Utah companies growing by 450 percent, double the national growth rate. The number of deals per year has also more than doubled in that same time period. The past five years, for example, have resulted in a total deal flow of over $700 million each year on average, with 2014 and 2015 both hitting highs of over a billion. Today Utah has 50 venture capital firms, a number of which have supported some of the state’s (and tech industries) biggest deals including SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics for $8 Billion at the end of 2018, and a number of public offerings including Pluralsight in March of 2018 and Health Catalyst’s recent July initial public offering.
Examining the past few years of deal trends, 2019 looks to be no different following investments like business management software company Divvy picking up a $200 million Series C at the end of April, emerging biotechnology Recursion Pharmaceuticals securing a $121 million Series C in July and Weave, a developer of patient communications software, whose $70 million Series D round in October make it Utah’s next Unicorn.
It’s All About the People
As the tech ecosystem scales, fueled by the states business culture and by investments in B2B enterprise SaaS applications, fintech and healthcare IT, I can only imagine the opportunities that will arise for Silicon Slope startups especially with established brands like Adobe and companies to watch like Divvy and Qualtrics expanding their local footprints with massive new buildings.
So what is drawing all this talent to the region and creating opportunities for companies to watch like Lucid Software, Bamboo HR, and Divvy? While some will surely point to Utah’s outdoor lifestyle, tech talent pool and supportive business environment with unlimited real estate, I think it’s the supportive community that is a big driver. For example, Qualtrics announced a new massive office space, that will include a 40,000 square foot MIT of daycare facilities as a way to support its employees with families.
Looking towards the future, in this new state, surrounded by the values that so resemble Highwire’s sense of collaboration, balance and passion, I’m confident that I’ll fit right in and I’m excited to see where opportunities take me.