How does a region attract technology events? Just ask Tampa Bay, the tech capital of Florida. Some cities like Baltimore invest time and resources into attracting more tech, but Tampa has no such problem. Gone are the days of Silicon Valley’s status as the mecca of the industry. The empire has crumbled. In its place, new leaders arise – coastal superstar cities like Seattle, New York, Austin and now, Tampa Bay.
One major event is the Synapse Summit, which boasted an attendance of over 5,000 from across the globe this year. Techies gather at Amalie Arena for dialogue, community, inspiration and learning. Synapse, the innovation hub that hosts this forum, is expected to exceed these numbers in 2023.
“What I discovered when I started at Synapse was an incredibly talented and passionate local community, rich with people who want to improve their community, plus business and thought leaders who are generous with time and knowledge,” chief strategy officer Lauren Prager says. “Tampa Bay is welcoming and inclusive. People come to the summit and see that they can build a business here and make a life for themselves and their families.”
Events like the Synapse Summit serve the dual purpose of building community within the Tampa Bay technology community while also attracting newcomers to the local scene.
Another such event is the Florida Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit being held this November. Last year it was held at Amalie Arena, with big names like developer Jeff Vinik and CEO Cathie Wood on the speakers’ list. Founder Chris Krimitsos recently reflected on the growth in the industry that’s allowed for such a gathering.
“There was a hunger for us to get together, but Tampa wasn’t ready until more recently,” he says. “Now we can bring everyone together so relationships are built, deals are made and people showcase their work and passion.
Krimitsos likens the growth of technology cities like Tampa to the birth of network television.
“Silicon Valley was like the monopoly of a few big companies — the three-letter networks,” he explains. “Now we’re seeing the growth of cable: all these channels are sprouting up and Tampa is a major tributary, with large companies and leaders coming out of the technology and especially blockchain space.”
One such company is CoinFlip, a leading fintech company that launched its crypto experience center in September in Sparkman Wharf. CoinFlip hosts small-scale events to educate the community about the leading edge of technology— digital currency, Bitcoin ATMs, the metaverse and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
“Visiting Tampa over the last few months as we worked on this project has only reaffirmed why we chose this city,” CEO and co-founder Ben Weiss says. “This place is electric.” Reaffirming this sentiment, CTO Rory Herriman speculated about the future of tech in Tampa.
“Twenty-five percent of all new tech jobs in Florida are in Tampa,” he notes. “Access to talent and a thriving technology community is how we all succeed and this region has it. Will Tampa end up Silicon Beach? I really think it could.”
Looking at the future of the sector as a whole, it doesn’t sound like Tampa will be slowing down anytime soon, says Craig J. Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council.
“Tampa is a growing and diversifying tech market and we’ve seen a steady increase in interest from tech CEOs, particularly in the sectors of cybersecurity, fintech and health tech,” Richard shares. “These leaders are finding that Tampa offers a more favorable business climate, excellent quality of life, available skilled talent and a supportive ecosystem of local tech and startup organizations like Embarc Collective, Tampa Bay Wave and Tampa Bay Tech.”
He continues, “We’re also receiving national recognition as an emerging tech hub, rising in rankings from industry leaders like CompTIA, Forbes and LinkedIn as a top place for tech talent and tech jobs.”
The growth of Tampa as a tech events destination is reflective of a wider trend — our booming and growing technology industry and economic success as a whole. So why Tampa Bay? The question is rather, why not. With a favorable business climate, access to a talented and well-educated workforce and high quality of living — it wouldn’t be hard pressed to place Tampa at the center of the metaverse