The Arizona Founders Fund is Arizona’s first ever seed and early stage fund dedicated to its software startups, which means I get asked Why Arizona? all the time.
Let's take a moment and walk you through Arizona's long history of technology creation. You may think I’m joking, but I’m not. Please keep reading.
Here's a snapshot of technology creation before 1950...
Then things took off after 1950.
Tech founding has been happening in Arizona for a long time. In fact, it dates well before 1950 and starts with the establishment of the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation manufacturing division in 1941. After that came the founding of Grand Canyon College (now GCU) (1949); Motorola opening a Phoenix- office to manufacture transistors (1950); Howard Hughes establishing his missile defense business (now operated by Raytheon) in 1951; the founding of Burr-Brown in Tucson (1956); University of Phoenix establishing its headquarters in Arizona (1976); Intel’s 1980s Chandler expansion; JDA Software establishing its global headquarters in Phoenix (mid-1980s); the founding of Microchip (1987); and then the founding of Insight Enterprises (1988).
We’re not even in the 90s yet! This is when Arizona became home to First Solar (1990), Taser and Lumension (1991), Avnet (1998), On Semiconductor (1999), and GoDaddy (1999). Then, Athena Wireless, Infusionsoft, Limelight Networks, Lifelock, 41st Parameter, 360 Vantage, Axosoft, Appointment Plus, Origami Owl, and WebPT were founded during a 10-year period.
There’s even been an additional flurry of tech innovation that can be attributed to the Brain Gain from 2010 to 2015, when national technology companies looked to create secondary headquarters here. Yelp, Yodle, Weebly, Zocdoc, Zenefits, Uber, Double Dutch, MindBody, and Apple are just a few companies that elected to make Phoenix home to their regional expansion plans. These expansion initiatives created over 4,000 additional technology focused jobs.
Add to this that Arizona has the 2nd highest GDP in the Southwest and is home to 50+ innovation catalysts, what AZFF calls accelerators, incubators, and workspaces. Almost 7% of the state is enrolled in higher education, which is higher than the national average (6.4%). Arizona’s 3 major research institutions – University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University – are active participants in university technology transfer too.
So, now you can see why our response to the Why Arizona? query is just about always...