The exciting tech ecosystem of Birmingham

As someone who grew up in Birmingham, I find it fascinating to watch the city embrace different industries. In my lifetime, steel and banking were once the dominant forces. I’ve witnessed the growth of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, both in size, stature and biomedical research.

The city’s embrace of technology is a personal favorite.

I feel fortunate to play a tiny role in that area. I’ve had the opportunity to mingle with those working in technology in Huntsville, Nashville and Atlanta: We’re in good company.

The growth has not been without its challenges. I remember how the City of Birmingham hemmed and hawed in 2015 over authorizing ridesharing apps.

What should people new to the Birmingham scene know about our tech scene?

Shipt

• Easily the splashiest news was last week’s surprise: Target is buying Birmingham-based grocery delivery company Shipt for $550 million. That stuff is old hat in Silicon Valley, but hopefully the start of a trend here (though our city has seen more that its share of outsider acquisition of big businesses).

We could use about a hundred more Shipt startups that capture national media attention and attract more investors.

Sloss Tech, Casey Neistat

TechBirmingham has been a friend to our conference for years, before under Jennifer Skjellum and now under Deon Gordon. The nonprofit organization has weathered its ups and downs, but has grown through its many events throughout the year.

The most notable is Sloss Tech, which brought filmmaker/YouTuber Casey Neistat (shown above) for its second annual conference this summer.

• Leeds native Charles Barkley has transformed into a venture capitalist overnight: Last week, he pledged to invest $1 million to assist African-American women in Alabama to create IT startups.

• Almost every local recruiter needs more coders. Year after year, they search here and throughout Alabama and points beyond to offer them great jobs. Programmers in demand can earn six figures in a short time, which goes a lot further with Birmingham’s low cost of living.

I encourage anyone who loves problem solving and technical work to learn to code. One local company that offers boot camps is Covalence, which announced last week that it will add online courses in February.

Birmingham has made technology into a force for adding jobs, shaking up systems and improving our quality of life. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Check out more posts about Birmingham.

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y'all Connect. See his full bio.

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