Jim Breyer is the founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, a premier venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California and Austin, Texas. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
More than a year ago Jim Breyer left the Bay Area for Austin, Texas. It wasn’t an easy decision by himself. He has spent three-plus decades embedded in Silicon Valley, investing in some of the region’s top tech companies. In his opinion, there wasn’t a better place in the world than the Bay Area to be an investor.
After lots of planning and due diligence, Jim thought that Austin was the best place for the next era of his venture capital and venture philanthropy career. With early signals that Austin is emerging as the next great tech hub, Jim was so excited to play a role in helping another part of the country reach its potential.
But instead of focusing on the positives of Austin, many narratives have focused on its problems. While critics make some points about rising living costs and government overreach, Jim would argue that Silicon Valley and Austin both have bright futures ahead. The things that made Silicon Valley special are not going anywhere. The Bay Area will continue to be a global hub of innovation that attracts courageous entrepreneurs, benefits from world-class institutions and nurtures talent from leading tech companies even as Austin offers a remarkable new frontier of opportunity.
New Austinites all have different reasons for why they moved here, of course. Jim’s decision to start Breyer Capital Austin has more to do with Austin’s strengths than any of the Bay Area‘s flaws.
For starters, Austin encourages a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration. Because the city has catered to so many types of professionals, and not just technologists, the depth of talent there is unique. Artists, entrepreneurs, doctors and professors, all at the top of their trade, frequently choose to build things together. Austin’s diverse entrepreneurs will usher in a new era of growth for the city, state and country.
Jim started investing in health care AI companies and fintech companies that have a consumer media backbone. The best founding teams are multifaceted and versatile, and Austin has every type of entrepreneur that a great company needs. Jim Breyer also added:
“Austin has attracted and will continue to attract young, brilliant talent because of its comparative affordability, outdoor culture and professional development opportunities. This vast pool of expertise is contributing to a remarkably robust climate of innovation. With Tesla, Facebook, Apple, Google, Oracle and other leading companies moving to or expanding in Austin, the entrepreneurial ecosystem will be bolstered when talent from these companies breaks away to start new ventures.”
Austin also has impressive educational institutions. The University of Texas has a history of attracting great minds. Strong academic institutions have an outsized role to play in tech hubs that will definitely help the city prosper and grow.
Lastly, Austin entrepreneurs are among the most impact-driven in the world. The city, in a push to “Keep Austin Weird,” emphasizes thinking outside the box. It encourages a frontier spirit where founders take big problems into their own hands. According to Breyer:
“Austin founders and investors understand that we have an opportunity to make female and racially diverse leaders part of the next generation of entrepreneurial success. Furthermore, the majority of people at startups here are determined to make the world a better place. Whether that means starting and maintaining a B-Corp or attacking a problem like a climate change, Austin entrepreneurs are eager to make a positive difference. I think Austin founders will offer indisputable proof that companies can simultaneously earn money for shareholders and improve society.”
Since Jim Breyer arrived in early 2020, he has backed more than 10 Austin-based companies, and Breyer Capital Austin is just getting started. At the same time, he continued investing in world-changing Silicon Valley companies.