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San Antonio Tries To Hold Onto Tech Talent

Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio
Sean Attwood (center) with San Antonio Economic Development Foundation checks people into the event.

San Antonio’s tech community held a job fair Wednesday night in at the Pearl, but it was a little different than most. First, it was private. Around a dozen employers from Amazon Web Services to H-E-B chatted with prospective employees. Beer and wine was served. A DJ played.

The event was also limited to those with 3-5 years in the industry. Those that attended wore color coded name tags to communicate the type of skills they possessed. The first hour was specifically dedicated to former Rackspace employees. The company went through its third round of layoffs in as many years. Many worry the talent will move on.

“It’s really important for the tech community of San Antonio to ensure that the talent knows that there are plenty of opportunities and jobs and roles for them to be here in San Antonio,” said Dax Moreno, chief talent and recruitment officer for Tech Bloc, the local industry advocacy organization.

The first funding for Moreno’s role to accomplish exactly that came from Bexar County in the wake of Rackspace’s 2017 layoffs for that purpose, and he put this event together in the wake of the last round along with Tech Quarry, a recruiting agency.

Several former Rackers, now with new companies were present. Even the DJ was a former Racker, Dale Bracey, who is now with Blue Duck Scooters. 

“We already have a lot of ex-Rackers. It’s been a tremendous talent source for us,” said Tom Rotem, CEO of Chargify. The software-as-a-service billing company is owned by Scaleworks, the fund founded by former Rackspace president Lew Moorman.

“We need talent across the board,” he said, adding the company had doubled its revenue and headcount to around 70 in less than two years. Rotem was bullish about San Antonio, highlighting its fast growth, relative lack of traffic, and growing cool factor.

He played down difficulties of finding talent in the city, saying today recruitment is tough everywhere.

San Antonio consistently ranks around 46th in studies around the size of tech worker talent pools.

Marcus Niklasson worked at Rackspace for six years, starting at Rackspace’s London office. He was shifted to San Antonio and was let go in February. This is the eighth country Swedish-born man has lived in but he is sure he is going to stay in San Antonio in at least the short term.

“I like the city. I like where it’s going. I like the investments that are happening.,” Niklasson said.

He’s excited to speak more with the Chargify staff about its opportunities, but concedes for many the draw of Austin has been strong for past waves of Rackspace layoffs.

Austin is in the top 10 for tech talent pools and boasts large employers Apple and Amazon, but Niklasson said the commute and this city will keep people here.

“I think people who live in San Antonio have a special love for the city,” he said.

Paul Flahive can be reached atpaul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org