Barron’s profiles Birmingham’s emergence as a tech hub

 Shipt is a pillar of Birmingham's tech scene, currently employing 400 with plans to add another 880 jobs in the next few years.

Shipt is a pillar of Birmingham's tech scene, currently employing 400 with plans to add another 880 jobs in the next few years.

Last week, a writer from Barron’s visited Birmingham to take a look at the city’s tech scene.

 Dr. Sameer Ather, CEO of Birmingham company XpertDox, meets with, from left to right, Steve Case, J.D. Vance and Dr. Ray Watts during the Rise of the Rest visit in May. Case said Birmingham "exceeded our expectations."

Dr. Sameer Ather, CEO of Birmingham company XpertDox, meets with, from left to right, Steve Case, J.D. Vance and Dr. Ray Watts during the Rise of the Rest visit in May. Case said Birmingham "exceeded our expectations."

The piece profiles a number of local companies and talks about “the economic renaissance of The Magic City,” which includes the addition of technology to the list of industries Birmingham is known for, including banking, insurance and automotive.

“Tech is the fastest-growing industry here,” said Bill Smith, founder and CEO of Shipt. “You will soon find names of that industry on the top of buildings downtown besides those of banks and insurance companies.”

Here are some takeaways from the article:

  • Smith said change has been palpable since he bought Shipt’s headquarters building in downtown Birmingham five years ago. Kasey Birdsong, cofounder and CEO of Planet Fundraiser, agreed. “There’s been a big push the last few years to make this city a favorable spot for tech,” Birdsong said.
  • The median cost of a house is $218,577 in Birmingham, referred to in the article as “the Southern Silicon Valley,” which is roughly $1 million less than San Francisco. 
  • Not only is the cost of a home more affordable in Birmingham, but so is the cost of doing business, said Weida Tan, founder of Fledging. “Starting a company is more affordable in Alabama,” he said. “If we try to do the same in California, we would have to raise prices to sell products to meet tax costs.”
  • Beyond affordability, tech companies in Birmingham have the opportunity to make a difference, said Dr. Sameer Ather, CEO of XpertDox. “The appeal here [Birmingham] is the ability to have a social impact and help build a bigger tech ecosystem,” he said.
  • It might soon be easier to get to San Francisco from Birmingham. The city is considering adding a direct flight to San Francisco to encourage Silicon Valley companies to establish secondary offices in Alabama, Smith said. Shipt has a secondary office in San Francisco.

Read the full article, “Add Birmingham to Tech’s Growing List of Hubs,” here. The Birmingham Business Alliance and its marketing firm, Development Counsellors International, hosted Barron’s reporter Jon Swartz during his trip to Birmingham last week to gather information for this great article.