How have you been responding to some of the big shifts in tech that we’ve seen over the past week? 

Last week’s ZoomInfo debut on the stock market was the tech industry’s largest IPO of 2020 and the Nasdaq hit 10,000 for the first time ever—a recovery that was propelled by the biggest names in tech:

  1. Facebook
  2. Apple
  3. Amazon
  4. Netflix 
  5. Google

(top 5, by market value)

Meanwhile, the tech industry continues to push for change and make big moves to build a more diverse and inclusive America.

Tech is following a global trend, with major brands funding long-term national initiatives to bring down systemic racism. Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand made a $100M 10-year pledge for organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice, and access to education. And Bank of America made a commitment of $1B over the next four years to support economic opportunity initiatives, with goals to match the size of the sum.

With funding like this to sustain organizations advancing systemic change, the work each of us does on an individual level is just that much more likely to take root and grow. 

Though there is much more work to be done, our team at Powderkeg made several commitments in the past week to change our own processes moving forward, which we’ll share with you later this month.

More stories on this topic, and other top tech news beyond Silicon Valley in this week’s edition of The Spark: 

  • 💥VCs Take Action
  • 🚂Leaving Salaries in SF
  • 💸10+ New Fundings & IPOs

P.S. Make sure you check out our new section, Exploding with Opportunity, it has some of this week’s most notable startup fundings, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts.

Choosy Tech Talent Chooses These Cities 

Which cities set the right stage for tech talent to shine? Answers from a recent report by SmartAsset might still surprise you.  Comparing data like average tech salary, cost of living, and available jobs identified six Southern metro areas and two Midwestern metro areas in the top 10 cities for tech jobs: 

  • Orlando, FL
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Dallas, TX
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Columbus, OH
  • Austin, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Cincinnati, OH

LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report had parallel findings, leading the site to conclude “Secondary cities have the jobs.” 

Its report concluded that Austin, Raleigh-Durham, Pittsburg, Portland, and Charlotte are the top secondary cities with emerging job markets. In addition, 11 of the 15 hottest jobs identified by LinkedIn were tech roles in engineering, development, or product ownership. 

Forbes reports findings from Heartland Forward that employment grew 15% faster in metropolitan areas with strong entrepreneurship ecosystems between 2010 and 2017. As tech startups create jobs for college-educated employees, the strength of these emerging cities and others between the coasts will only grow.

I Left My Salary In San Francisco

Should low cost-of-living equal low pay? 75% of Facebook employees say they would move if allowed to work from home. The catch? Facebook will reduce their compensation to match local salaries for the same positions, even if they have been paid more to do the same job until now.

For their part, some tech employers say if they pay the same salaries to everyone regardless of where they work, this could drive up housing costs wherever the employees are living or contribute to economic disparity in other ways. Others like DHH have long said that allowing high salaries to support other economies is one of the fastest roads to economic equality across the US.

Rent & home prices have fallen 9-14% across the San Francisco Bay & Silicon Valley in the last few months as employees relocate. Even in other California cities like Fresno, pay for a software developer can be as much as 40% lower than someone working in the Bay Area.

The Long-Term View to Killing Racism in Tech

Technology defines our culture. How technology evolves must be informed by everyone in our culture. When leadership at tech companies is segregated, so is the technology itself, leading to issues like Google’s racist photo recognition algorithm, which was fixed in 2018 but first recognized in 2015. In fact, Amazon has issued a one-year moratorium on police use of facial recognition technology as a result of enduring issues and backlash.

According to people of color, dealing with systemic racism in tech and startup communities boils down to “make the hire, send the wire,” meaning recruit more top-tier Black talent and fund more Black-led innovation and entrepreneurship.  

Along those lines, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian Sr. resigned his executive position & called for his replacement by a black candidate. Ohanian is a prominent voice in the tech industry and has been a champion of tech between the coasts for years. 

He has pledged all his future returns on Reddit stock to be contributed to curb racial hate. Soon after Ohanian resigned, Reddit’s board of directors followed Ohanian’s request and selected Y Combinator’s CEO Michael Seibel for the position.

Startup communities like Austin and Tampa Bay are discussing the fight for racial justice on their turf. However, thought leaders of color caution the desire for a swift solution. 

“Racism won’t die in 2020,” writes M25 Group Partner Mike Asem, “but now is the time to give it a terminal illness.”

VCs Take Action

How can VCs invest long-term in equality? The venture community is abuzz with conversation around how to include more black investors and black founders in the industry. But at a time when some say that lots of moves can ring inauthentic, what can funds do beyond social statements?

One proposed solution: help historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) invest endowments in venture capital. This means bringing on HBCUs as limited partners and offering them access to opportunities that existing investors might currently want. Yes, this is part of how things get uncomfortable.

“It’s imperative on [investors] to expand their networks because there are plenty of black founders, and we’re building great companies,” says Incredible Health CEO Iman Abuzeid. She says healthcare and nursing are some of the most left-behind industries.

In Nashville, there’s a conversation in the venture capital community about white privilege in the healthcare industry. Marcus Whitney writes that healthcare generates more than any other industry in Nashville, but “Black people are not proportionally part of that wealth generation.”

As each community finds its own systems that most crucially need attention, VCs will continue to have authentic opportunities for funding action.


This week’s startup funding, acquisitions, and IPOs between the coasts.

Allentown, Pennsylvania  

Charlotte, North Carolina

Chicago, Illinois    


Cleveland, Ohio

College Park, Maryland

Denver, Colorado


Washington, D.C.


Know someone looking for a new gig? The economy is unpredictable right now, but startups in the middle of the country are still hiring.

We have a few our Top Powderkeg Picks below:

Companies who are hiring:

Indianapolis, IN

  •   U.Group is an advanced technology & creative design firm hiring full stack engineers.
  •   Jobvite is an analysis-driven recruitment platform hiring many finance & accounting roles.
  •   Zotec Partners is a healthcare technology company hiring software engineers and a provider enrollment specialist.

Dallas, TX

  •   Catalyte leverages AI to help companies hire smarter, and are themselves hiring multiple levels and types of software engineers as well as a support analyst.

Denver, CO

  •   EverCommerce is a service-sector eCommerce provider hiring accountants, marketing staff, and a Salesforce program manager

Various Locations or remote

  •   Magic Leap is a virtual reality technology company hiring researchers, software engineers, graphics renderers, and more.
  •   Arturo is a deep learning spin-out of a Fortune 500 company hiring systems and software engineers.
  •   Stitch Fix is a digital personal stylist software hiring platform and software engineers among many other positions.
  •   DXC Technology is a B2B IT services provider hiring analysts, customer service professionals, developers, and more across the US. 
  •   CommScope is a global network infrastructure provider hiring account managers, operators, and technicians.


Get the inside scoop on even more interesting companies, stories, and strategies to help you reach your full potential.

  1. Ruben Harris joins Matt Hunckler to discuss how to break into tech
  2. Full list of nominees for Mira Awards, honoring Rising Tech Cities in Indiana
  3. Treasure trove of training for emerging leaders
  4. Plug into Powderkeg community LIVE at one of our upcoming virtual events

This blog post was curated by Alexander, Meg, Casey, and myself from the Powderkeg team, and written with the help of our friends at Metonymy Media. These are just some of the amazing stories happening around us every day.

Got 30 seconds? Have some good news to share? Let me or the Powderkeg team know and we’ll share the best stories in one of our upcoming virtual events, on social, or in a blog.

Let us know!

By the way…it’s free to sign up for our hand-curated newsletter, The Spark. Have it delivered straight to your inbox each week with the biggest tech news happening outside Silicon Valley. Sign up here!