May 22, 2024 Lehi, Utah

By Doug Baird

The once shiny Silicon Valley is no longer as enticing to tech talent as it once was, with Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” attracting young workers at unprecedented levels. A recent Wall Street Journal report found Salt Lake City as the country’s hottest job market in the last year. However for native Utahns, this ranking doesn’t come as a surprise. Those who have been paying close attention to Utah’s booming tech scene have been quietly taking note of the vibrant changes in our community, with Salt Lake City even receiving rankings as one of the fastest-growing US cities in the last few years.

In the last decade alone, Utah witnessed tremendous growth. Several high-profile investments, acquisitions, and increased commercial development are all contributing to the state’s booming economy and rapid growth rates, bringing the vision of Silicon Slopes to reality. This trend is something that I’ve experienced firsthand with our office. What used to be vacant lots around our building when RainFocus was first founded in 2013, are now housing major companies such as Adobe, Oracle, Microsoft,, and so on. Throughout this expansion, the region as transformed into a vibrant economic scene, with endless potential for innovation.

The last few years have been paramount for the tech scene in Utah and it’s only going to continue growing. SAP’s acquisition of local Utah-based business, Qualtrics, and Domo’s IPO in 2018, set the stage for profitable growth in the region. However, this activity was only possible due to Utah’s long-standing roots in the tech industry. As companies were scaling quietly with an intense focus on Silicon Valley’s darlings, the world began to re-evaluate what work-life balance looked like during the COVID-19 pandemic. When more people put an emphasis on their lifestyle outside of the office, and took time to evaluate the changes they wanted to make, workers fled to Utah and began exploring the vast possibilities here—allowing a steady stream of top talent into the local pipeline.

The Talent Exodus to Silicon Slopes

The migration to Utah as a tech hub has been in the works for many years. With its pro-business environment, family-friendly communities, and endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, it’s easy to understand why so many talented tech professionals and companies are fleeing to Utah. Home to events like SunDance, Utah’s emerging cultural scene is attracting young talent who are looking to find a more balanced life. With a cheaper cost of living compared to major metropolitan hubs such as New York and San Francisco, it’s hard to deny the draw of Salt Lake City for white-collar workers.

Coupled with the copious amounts of outdoor recreation such as hiking, and the increased living space, many younger families are turning here to settle down and lay their family roots. In addition to the new waves of tech talent coming to Utah, the Wasatch Range serves as more than a prominent background to Salt Lake City’s stunning skyline—it also houses top universities, such as Brigham Young, Utah State, and a wide variety of colleges and technology schools. Combine this home-grown talent with one of the youngest populations among large metros in the nation and a strong community, it creates a hotbed for the next generation of innovators. With this combination, the heart of the tech industry is shifting to Utah. As Utah’s population continues to grow, so will our economy and the amount of jobs we can create to support the state.

I started my first software business in the late 90s when the Utah startup ecosystem wasn’t what it is today. During this time, most Utah tech workers were looking to make a career at big companies and others leveraged their work experience to land jobs in Silicon Valley or Seattle. We ended up hiring local college students part-time and training them to take on full-time positions when they graduated.

Fifteen years later with the start of RainFocus, we were easily able to find top tech talent—many of whom came from out of state. They were eager and excited to join a growing company. This shift in both talent and culture created an environment that allowed RainFocus to grow much faster than would have been possible in an earlier era of the Utah job market. With large tech companies like Meta expanding on their Eagle Mountain Data Center and the continued acquisition of Utah-based companies, the growth of Silicon Slopes won’t slow down anytime soon. As companies continue to expand their presence in the region, they’ll also continue to bring top talent along with them. Through a healthy mix of local and transplant talent, Silicon Slopes will maintain the steady momentum and recognition as America’s next tech frontier. I’m excited to witness the growth and to be a part of this booming economy. It’s an exciting time to be a Utahn!


Doug Baird is Founder and President of RainFocus, a Lehi, UT-based events technology company focused on data management, marketing automation, and strategic event management. Doug educates event owners on how they can transform event marketing from an isolated investment to an integrated customer experience that drives top-line revenue growth, builds brand equity, and accelerates the sales funnel from the typical 9-18 months to 3-6 months. He works closely with industry leaders, including Cisco, Oracle, Gartner, VMware, RSA, Splunk, and others.

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