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Boulder's tech workers cope with historic flood

Patrick Thibodeau | Sept. 16, 2013
Widespread use of cloud data centers helps tech firms in Colorado, U.S., keep running, letting workers worry first about floods, not about business

DuPont needed a hose for his flooded home basement. TeamSnap's downtown office in Boulder is on the second floor and is dry, but he can't say the same for that office building's first floor and garage.

But the business was fine. "We don't have any capital equipment anywhere," said DuPont, The company relies on cloud providers for data services. TeamSnap also has employees located around the country who can help keep operations going, he said.

"We're uniquely position to be able to handle this thing quite well," said DuPont. "That's the way it is for most companies that do what we do," he said of other Internet-based firms.

But physically getting to the office is another thing. "I would need a boat to commute today," said DuPont.

DuPont told employees to work from home if they could, but to "make sure they took care of themselves and their families and friends first."

Both Moody and DuPont praised the culture in Boulder, and said people network and communicate. Moody illustrated it through an anecdote. He was contacted by an engineer interested in moving to Boulder, and he put him in touch with various firms and what soon became three solid days of meetings for the engineer.

Drawing good talent to Boulder helps everyone, said Moody.

Boulder wasn't always a software development center, said Jud Valeski, CTO of Gnip.

Valeski has spent most of his life Boulder, and he wanted to work in software, his passion. But in the 1990s, Boulder area tech opportunities were mostly though hardware storage vendors. In 1995 he relocated to Silicon Valley to work at Netscape. But he moved back to Boulder in 1999 and has seen the software development community rise in the years since.

Valeski said Boulder's cost of living, compared to Silicon Valley or New York, is relatively affordable, and it offers a great lifestyle.

One advantage that Boulder has is a highly educated population, thanks to University of Colorado, and research facilities, such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research. In the mid-2000 period, Google, Microsoft created offices there, and venture capital funding arrived as well.

All of this has given the area a dense, technical knowledge base, and people who tend to stay "because of the quality of life," said Valeski.

 

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