The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sean Shiplet Headshot

Tech Companies and Software Developers: Think Beyond Silicon Valley for Great Jobs

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Being in the software business for 27 years, we've seen it all: up and down economies, the evolution from clamshells and PDAs to today's smartphones and tablets, and more. But one thing that hasn't changed much in software development is the perception that all the good tech companies are in the "big cities," especially within California.

With our headquarters in Naples, Florida and offices in Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City, we have been able to recruit top talent -- especially software developers -- which enables us to build great products while helping reduce unemployment. In fact, we find that our team enjoys living in cities with lower costs of living, while receiving comparable salaries and benefits.

Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City, for example, are great places to raise families with strong school systems, lower mortgages, and growing downtown areas. In fact, Oklahoma City-suburb Edmond is frequently rated one of the best places to live.

Attracting talent and developing innovative products has never been hindered by our location, a phenomenon experienced by the wider tech community. Austin, Texas and Bozeman, Montana are just two of the many non-coastal U.S. cities where tech startups are finding a home, and where jobs are being created to battle unemployment. Companies like ours face the same talent pool competition issues as Google and Facebook. Fortunately, we're in a position where we can attract those wanting not only the startup feel, but also tremendous stability.

Technology companies based in Oklahoma, Kansas or Missouri aren't necessarily filled with TPS reports, monotonous paperwork, and melatonin-producing meetings. In fact, some of America's greatest tech organizations with enjoyable company cultures can be found outside of traditional tech hubs: Dell is located in Round Rock, Texas; Amazon is in Seattle, Washington; Citrix's headquarters are in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and so on.

Take, for example, a la mode. We keep it fresh, like the Oklahoma weather, ever-changing. One month our employees may work on the latest iteration of a 30-year-old flagship product; the next, they may be assigned to a new product, service, feature, or market. We're extremely self-critical, and it brings a lot of pressure, but we're a team. We challenge people -- you may be asked to take on a project requiring skills you've yet to learn. At first, few resources are allocated to these projects and everyone wears many hats. But to offset the occasional difficulties of the tech lifestyle, we have a fully-stocked café, soda fountain, and often cater.

I remember the startup feel we had when I started almost 20 years ago. We were ready to take on the world and had dreams of changing it, and we did just that. We're a pioneer in workflow technology, solving digital supply chain and data gathering problems in one of the broadest sectors of the financial services industry for over a quarter century. If you've bought a home, sold one, or taken out a mortgage recently, odds are one of our products facilitated it. In the last decade, our technology has powered tens of millions of appraisals. Yep, a company primarily located in the Midwest is mission critical to the mortgage industry -- and we are following in the footsteps of other companies being located where they are most needed, rather than in a brand-name location. The phenomenon of important technology companies in unexpected cities repeats itself again and again, from San Antonio to Chicago and others throughout the country.

So the next time you're considering where to put your headquarters, consider that tech companies are created to help people think outside the box and forge new paths. You too can accomplish this goal by forgoing Silicon Valley and instead choosing a location that best suits your company -- namely, your employees and your bottom line.