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Two Years in Austin – the Low-Latency Capital of the World?

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OK, I jest a bit with that headline. But it was two years ago this weekend that my good friend Allan Nixon (he used to work alongside me at Waters many years ago) and I rented a U-Haul and took a road trip from Brooklyn to Austin, Texas. In the back of the van were my worldly possessions. I was about to become a Texan!

I moved here because after 16 years, I’d just had enough of living in the Big Apple, and I wanted a change of pace and scenery. As a big live music fan, the world class scene here made it a great choice (it’s a lot more than Country music). Of course, F1 racing – another big interest of mine – is coming here from next year.  So there’s lots of personal reasons for me to love this place – which is quite unlike the rest of Texas, being liberal leaning, with lots of arts and culture, green spaces, hills, lakes, bars and restaurants, BBQ and wine, and a host of high-tech companies.

True, my co-workers scratched their heads a bit at my decision. They ddn’t get it. I’m not sure they do now.  But others in the industry were very positive – it seems many had visited Austin, lived here, went to university here. I get back to NYC a fair bit, and it’s now common for meetings to begin with “How is Austin Pete … boy I love that place … I’m envious.” When the likes of George Kledaras think my new city is a cool place, then it is.

What I hadn’t considered in my move were that there really are links to my day job all around me. Most recently, TS-Associates set up shop here with the hiring of Alex Malone, so we’ll be downing a few Fireman’s Four’s soon. IBM has a facility here, where the product managers for LLM and WebSphere Front Office reside.  AMD and Intel are here, the latter in part because it acquired NetEffect, its low-latency networking business.  Fellow networker System Fabric Works is a local too. There’s also latency monitoring specialist RedDot Networks, and National Instruments, which has tools for FPGA development. Others nearby include execution services provider Penson and Morningstar’s LIM data management unit.

There are a few market participants in town too.  Just around the corner from me, the boffins at RGM Advisors are creating trading strategies to run on their servers at Nasdaq’s co-lo, and elsewhere. Kershner Trading is a fellow Austinite. Citigroup has a big data centre just up the road, and if you are a Charles Schwab customer, more than likely the market data you’re viewing has flowed through its operation here.

With a pro-business local government – luring the likes of Facebook and hotels, such as the W, with tax breaks – a lower-cost economy and an easy commute to the major trading centres, Austin could be a great place for others in the financial tech space to move. Give me a call if you’d like a tour!

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