Fast Frontiers most recently had the honor of hosting Jason Warner, CTO of GitHub, who sat down with us to discuss his role at the company, as well as where he sees the future frontiers of technology heading.
The interview began by asking Jason, who recently moved to New Albany (also known as Columbus), Ohio, why he chose that specific locale. According to Jason, it was just after the GitHub acquisition, which posed an opportunity for him and his wife to relocate to just about anywhere since GitHub is a fully remote organization. So they started looking everywhere.
“The more I researched, the more often Columbus, and specifically New Albany, Ohio, popped up on the best places to live in the country lists,” Jason explained. “The way I characterized what I found when I dug deep into Columbus specifically was if you’re a tech person and you wanted to leave the West Coast, and you had no imagination or aspirations other than to go to a place that was turnkey ready for you, go to Austin. Basically, it feels like Silicon Valley Midwest or Mideast or what you want to call that. But if you had some imagination and you wanted to build a little bit, and you’re okay with less structure, go to Tennessee. But you’re a builder, and you really, really wanted to build, and you were okay with some ambiguity about what was going to happen. Columbus felt like Silicon Valley 30, 40 years ago, where it was the land of opportunity.”
The decision to movewas made. And since that time Jason feels 100% confident that he made the right choice: “I don’t know how best to describe it other than I’ve been here for under a year now, and I have been embraced by the community. [And] you see the opportunity [here].”
Also a factor in the decision to choose New Albany was the affordability for Jason’s family, as well as living in a place where wide-open spaces replace the nitty-gritty cement cities. “We had quickly ruled out city-like landscapes, and we weren’t going to move to New York City or anything like that. [New Albany] had a right mix of cosmopolitan and urban and suburban. But the other side of it truthfully, too, is your dollar goes a long way out here.”
That’s great. And I love that builder analogy you used. You mentioned earlier how you felt embraced by the community already. Can you elaborate on that, especially in terms of how the community has helped you settle in and get connected?
Jason shared how Columbus is a world away from the often-cold and lonely feeling one might experience in Silicon Valley. “[The community here has been] incredibly welcoming … You’re welcomed with open arms because I think everyone recognizes that if you chose to come here in this moment in time, you’re coming for a reason. They want you to be successful because if you are, they are.”
And many are coming, aren’t they? With GitHub specifically, I understand that even though there are no actual physical office headquarters here, you still have quite a representation in Columbus.
“We have no office here. Although, I believe, last count there were something like 35 different GitHubers who live in Columbus, believe it or not! A lot of old, mid, and early acquisition folks had come out of the Midwest, and a lot of folks from GitHub were from Ohio originally. One of the original co-founders was born just outside of Cincinnati, and one of the original investors, Jim Goetz from Sequoia, spent a lot of time just outside of Cincinnati. So there’s this weird connection to Ohio with GitHub.”
Yeah. I brought GitHub up as an example for that very reason. It shows that there’s great talent here, [and] great ideas that just need the right support system.
After learning about the exciting beginning of Jason’s journey with GitHub and how he is seeing new frontiers like Columbus emerge into the forefront of the growing tech future, you can check out the full podcast to follow the rest of his story. You’ll hear his expert insights on hypergrowth, and how GitHub made it happen, and how you can do the same.