Why is All the Tech Talent Moving to Colorado?

Forbes ranked Colorado #5 among best states for doing business.
Forbes ranked Colorado #5 among best states for doing business. Robert Kash
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Between 2014 and 2015, Denver was the fastest-growing large city in the United States, cracking the top twenty biggest cities in the country list. People from all over the country are moving to Denver in droves, and for good reason—the Centennial State boasts gorgeous weather, with 300 days of sunshine each year; easy access to the Rocky Mountains; and more than a third of the state is public land.

It’s not just individuals who are moving to Colorado—businesses are flocking to the Denver Metro area, too. In 2016, Forbes ranked Colorado at #5 among the best states for doing business, thanks in part to the low to moderate costs of doing business here (2.4 percent below the national average). It doesn’t hurt that Colorado’s central geographic location makes for easy global access and direct access to a large and ever-growing customer base.

It’s no surprise, then, that some of Colorado’s key industries are on the rise, too, including the tech industry. These days, Denver is home to the third-highest concentration of tech workers in the country, ranking just a few tenths of a percentage point behind Massachusetts and Virginia (numbers one and two, respectively). That comes out to just under 150,000 people who are part of one of the most educated workforces in Colorado.

Several household tech names have offices in Colorado, including Comcast, IBM, Verizon, and Oracle. But it’s not just tech giants: on average, there’s a new digital tech company launched every 72 hours in Colorado, and thanks to the high quality of life the Centennial State has to offer, there’s no sign of slowing down.

But don’t just take it from us. These Coloradans were drawn to the state by the tech industry, and then found plenty of reasons to stick around.

Elisa George, Director of Brand Management at Sphero

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Launched in 2010, Sphero joins robotic and digital technology together, creating an immersive and unexpected entertainment experience. Their futuristic-looking products (including Star Wars’ beloved BB-8) are, as they put it, "optimized by data and powered by fun."

Originally from Torino, Italy, Elisa George lived in Los Angeles for nearly eight years. After visiting Boulder a year ago, George packed up her family and moved to the Front Range. "We were ready to make a lifestyle change and go after a simpler life," she explains, “while still living in a cool, tech-forward town.”

George came from a fairly structured, corporate environment, so it’s refreshing to spend her days—no two of which, she says, are the same—working on a variety of projects, and always surrounded by robots. Her favorite outdoor activities (running, hiking, and yoga) are easy to incorporate into her daily routine in a town like Boulder. "I feel like I’ve taken my life back," George says of her 4.5 months in Boulder, “This has made me more productive, happier, and more efficient at work.”

Brad Culberson, Principal Engineer II, SendGrid

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SendGrid’s cloud-based email service is an answer to companies seeking solutions for reliable email delivery. Founded in 2009, SendGrid now sends billions of emails (for things like purchase confirmations, password reset instructions, and notifications of upcoming sales) for companies you’ve definitely heard of, like Uber, Spotify, Glassdoor, Airbnb, and Yelp.

Brad Culberson landed a job in the Bay Area after college, thinking it was the place to be for tech. "My job there owned me," he says, because it offered almost no work/life balance. “I wanted to be in an area that actually promoted fitness and a healthy lifestyle, so I started interviewing in the Boulder area.”

He didn’t end up in Boulder, but Culberson has now been in Colorado for a decade, and it’s safe to say he’s thriving. He takes the SendGrid bus from his Superior home to downtown Denver, often solving the toughest challenges from his workday during an evening run or bike ride. In addition to working on problems on a massive scale—his latest project at SendGrid is a tool that allows marketing teams to send targeted campaigns to a particular segment—Culberson has completed nine full Ironman triathlons, with another three slated for this year.

Dick Black, Manager, Software Engineering, SendGrid

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Another SendGrid employee, Dick Black touts the company’s flexible scheduling as a key part of his work/life balance. "It’s easy to get away at the end of the day to grab a wakeboard set on the lake before it gets dark," he says.

Black’s management role means he works closely with SendGrid’s Product and User Experience teams, looking for ways to make his team more efficient. Recently, the team has been working on a way to improve customers’ email-building experience. He also regularly brings his mountain bike to work so he can hit the trails at the end of the day.

"The tech industry here in Colorado makes work/life balance so easy," Black says, “because there are so many activities within reach, and the flexible schedule allow you to fit almost anything into your work week.” With Colorado’s phenomenal weather, he points out, folks can usually count on sunshine, which makes it easier to get outside.

Joe Dellanno, CTO and Founder, Tempus Nova, Inc.

With so many nearby trails, the work/life balance is easy in Denver.
With so many nearby trails, the work/life balance is easy in Denver. Ken Lund

Denver’s Tempus Nova is a project-based consulting firm that specializes in Google enterprise solutions, implementations, cloud computing, and app development. Their clients include Costco, Denny’s restaurants, Kohl’s, and Sports Authority.

"There are plenty of places around the nation that are tech hubs, but I felt only Denver had the total package," says Joe Dellanno, who’s been in Colorado since 1996 and now lives in Highlands Ranch. Dellanno oversees project management and app development teams at Tempus Nova, and is always on the lookout for new technologies and ways to get the word out about the company’s offerings.

An avid skier and mountain biker, Dellanno maintains a flexible schedule for himself and his staff, sometimes calling a mid-week snow day when the powder looks good. As long as work is done and clients are happy, he says, he’s happy.

As he puts it, "How could any of us not strive for work/life balance when we have at our front door some of the best riding and skiing in the world?"

Originally written for Choose Colorado.

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