Published Apr 19, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta
When Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced late last year it would relocate its headquarters from San Jose, Calif. to the Houston area, it turned heads in the tech world. The move will not only give Houston bragging rights over an additional Fortune 500 company (bringing the metro total to 23), it further establishes the region as a legitimate player in the tech sector, one that can compete for the top companies looking to operate closer to leading firms in energy, life sciences and logistics.
HPE already has a solid presence in Houston with thousands of employees, but establishing its corporate headquarters at a new Springwoods Village campus set to open in early 2022 will make the company a major power player in Houston’s emerging tech ecosystem and likely help draw more companies.
The Partnership invited HPE CEO Antonio Neri to present at its inaugural State of Technology event held virtually this week. Neri spoke about the reasons behind the company’s move and where he is centering HPE’s focus for a post-pandemic world.
Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey kicked off the event by discussing Houston’s ongoing effort to foster new technology and innovation while also drawing existing players to the region. “Houston is a city with an incredible history of innovation. Changing the world is in our nature and our very DNA,” Harvey said. “Over the past few years, entrepreneurs, investors, academic institutions, local government, and the corporate sector have come together to unite, grow, and promote Houston's startup ecosystem.”
Harvey then introduced Neri, who began his presentation by discussing how COVID-19 has impacted the ways we live and work, adding that HPE considers it their responsibility "to help the world navigate the pandemic.”
The new, post-COVID world will require new principles for digital transformation, Neri said. “I am incredibly excited about the next wave of digital transformation…Tech is enabling real, tangible change around the world.”
Neri said his company is focused on helping solve the big problems impacting the world through data, which he calls the currency of the digital economy. “This is what guides us every day—to make this work more inclusive and to deliver outcomes from the data in a way that we haven’t done before.”
Looking forward, Neri said his top three priorities are the culture of the company, a focus on innovation and HPE’s customers. Diversity and inclusivity have become more important in the tech sector over the last year and the CEO said HPE has focused on involving all employees in charting the company’s journey toward greater inclusivity.
The decision to relocate HPE’s headquarters to Houston was largely about getting access to talent and being able to develop that talent for the long term, Neri said. Houston is the most diverse city in the nation and the Neri said he saw it as an opportunity to rebalance the company and work toward increased diversity and inclusion in a region that would continue to attract young talent. “I feel we made the right decision for the community we serve,” he said.
Beyond HPE, a growing chorus of tech companies are expanding their presence in Houston. Greentown Labs, Amazon and Google Inc. all announced significant Houston area projects last year. In February, Roboze, a manufacturer of industrial 3D printing technology, unveiled its new U.S. headquarters in Houston and announced plans to hire more than 100 employees over the next two years.
Early-stage Houston companies are also garnering more venture capital funding than ever before. Since 2016, VC investment in Houston has grown almost 250%, with a record $753 million raised last year.