To create his start-up, Josh Clifford set his sights on Austin, much more affordable than San Francisco, where he and his partner could only afford “bunk beds for $2,000 a month.” A place where “unlike Europe, investors are fearless”. The young man wants to “put an end to the global water problem”. FreeWater distributes free aluminum bottles of water and donates 10% of the profits to NGOs.
He is housed at the Capital Factory, the largest incubator in the Texas city. From Barack Obama to Richard Branson, all VIPs enter this technological showcase, which animates a bubbling ecosystem. Austin hatches 4,000 start-ups a year. Among them, 20 unicorns have emerged, including the dating application Bumble or the artificial intelligence specialist SparkCognition. Austin loves innovation and she loves it back.
“An ecological paradise on the Colorado River”
In October 2021, the arrival of Elon Musk sent a strong signal: the billionaire decided to move his world headquarters near Tesla’s Gigafactory, which was inaugurated the following April. “We are going to build an ecological paradise here on the Colorado River,” he tweeted. In December, software publisher Oracle moved its headquarters there, leaving Silicon Valley. A more discreet feat, the city was chosen in 2018 to host – within the walls of the Capital Factory – the US Army Futures Command, the army’s first innovation laboratory, headed by a four-star general.