Silicon Slopes and Beehive Startups, two organizations that cover Utah’s tech and business scene, have joined forces to a create a new nonprofit organization that will cover Utah’s buzzing business culture.
Silicon Slopes, a company that has organized Utah’s startups under one banner, and Beehive Startups, a tech and business blog with a podcast that often features business leaders from the state, hope to foster even more growth for the tech industry.
DOMO founder and CEO Josh James, who heads the Silicon Slopes organization, said he and Clint Betts, founder of Beehive Startups and now executive director of the new nonprofit group, started talking a year ago about combining efforts.
“You’ve got the community together and behind something," James told the Deseret News. "And we’ve been developing a lot of momentum.”
Other notable executives from Utah’s top businesses have joined the organization’s executive board, including Brad Rencher, Adobe executive vice president; Dave Elkington, InsideSales.com founder and CEO; Carine Clark, former Symantec CMO and MartizCX CEO; Aaron Skonnard, Pluralsight co-founder and CEO; Ryan Smith, Qualtrics co-founder and CEO; and Todd Pedersen, Vivint founder and CEO.
Within the nonprofit group, Silicon Slopes will exclusively cover the tech community, while Beehive Startups will focus on the entrepreneurial and early business prospects of the state.
James said the nonprofit will focus on growth initiatives like startup challenges to help “bring in great people." An advisory board and small committees associated with the nonprofit will be announced in the coming days.
Also announced was the Silicon Slopes Summit, which will be a two-day tech event at the Salt Palace on Jan. 19 and 20.
The event runs alongside the Sundance Film Festival, but is expected to draw “high-profile” keynote speakers.
James said the company strategically chose to launch the summit during Sundance to draw people from around the world.
“It’s like one of the best world-class things we have in our state,” he said. “What’s Utah world class at? That’s kind of where we started. The Sundance Film Festival is definitely world class. Our tech community — we have world-class companies. Our community is not world class yet, but it’s getting there. How great would it be to be able to invite executives to come and speak to a couple hundred thousand people and then say, ‘hey, let’s go see a movie premiere afterwards.' That really resonated with the speakers that we’re lining up.”
James said they will be announcing speakers one at a time over the next month.
Domo founder and CEO Josh James speaks to the attendees of Domopalooza, held at the Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 22, 2016.
Scott Stevens, Deseret News
Similarly, James said the summit will be a “world-class party” with some of the country’s leading tech entrepreneurs coming to the state to share their knowledge on tech, engineering and data.
This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that Beehive Startups worked to expand its reach. It began producing a podcast called the "Deseret News Silicon Slopes Hour," which can be found on DeseretNews.com and also heard on KSL Radio.
Betts told the Deseret News last month that Utah’s blossoming tech industry deserves more attention.
“These are stories about entrepreneurs," he said. "It’s not stories about cloud computing or how to build a SAAS company. I think it’s a pretty broad topic. We’re talking about what it takes to build a company, what does it take to be an entrepreneur, that type of stuff."
Indeed, Utah's growth in the business field has been noted. The CBRE Group's recent report moved Utah from an "emerging market" to a "growth leader" since the state has an "above-average high-tech software/services job growth" and "above-average office market performance."
“Tech has been a driving force in Salt Lake’s economy for some time now, as evidenced in the market’s transition from an emerging market to a growth leader,” Eric Smith, a senior vice president in CBRE’s Salt Lake office, said in a press release.
Salt Lake City ranked 18th in the nation in terms of job growth (ahead of Los Angeles, Atlanta and Boston) and 13th in office market performance (just ahead of Denver, New York and Phoenix).
James said he hopes this will continue moving forward.
“You know, tech, more than anything else, drives the average income per person in the state. Drives it more than anything,” he said. “We’re excited to be able to continue to grow that tech community here.”