Do we really need to set our sights on traditional tech hubs anymore? Some companies are betting that we don’t.

A few years ago, when software company Zendesk was contemplating building its second HQ, it considered Austin and other buzzy tech scenes, as any company would. But ultimately, it chose to create a hub in Madison, Wisconsin.

Madison checked similar boxes to Austin in regards to talent, education and quality of life. Similar to Austin, Madison ranked highly in “best places to live” indexes and had a large public research university. (Austin has the University of Texas at Austin, and Madison has the University of Wisconsin–Madison.)

Most importantly, some of Zendesk’s existing employees were from Madison. The metro made the most sense for the people who would be driving the HQ’s new projects, because they already knew the area and its key decision makers. Thus, it was able to get an entire city behind its effort, rather than being “just another company” in Austin.

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