Nine and a half years ago, two buddies who have been business partners since they were 17 years old started a company called TaskUs LLC.
They built it on the idea that, in line with a movement created by “4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss, everyone would soon have virtual personal assistants.
“That didn’t work out but we tried that model for a few years,” said Jaspar Weir, president of TaskUs (his business partner, Bryce Maddock, is the CEO). “But through that process, we began testing different locations domestically and off-shore,” Weir said.
The company hit its stride providing business services to other companies, including what Weir describes as data entry, call-center services and more complex business operations. What began with a small office in the Philippines in 2009 has grown to six locations in that country, as well as satellite offices in Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, San Francisco and Santa Monica, where the company of 8,500 full-time employees is headquartered.
But when TaskUs was looking to start providing domestic business services, it looked to Austin and found an intriguing solution: It built an office in downtown San Antonio last year, but its two leaders would live in Austin. That got us curious: why hire in San Antonio, but lead from Austin?
512tech: Why did you and Bryce decided to live in Austin when the bulk of your employees are in San Antonio and overseas?
Jaspar Weir: “A lot of our clients wanted us to have a domestic option for a while. We took the philosophy of what made us successful overseas and brought that to a domestic setting. It’s been a phenomenal experience so far. Bryce and I moved here to Austin to be part of that, to be closer to the operation and also because we love Austin. We love San Antonio, also, but Austin presents a great opportunity on the client side with so many technology companies putting secondary sales and service offices here. We felt that by being here and getting integrated into the community of big companies that are opening offices here, it would be great for our relationships.
“We have clients such as Box that have operations here. It’s been a nice transition for us. I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of people that move operations to Austin realize that it can get done for a lot cheaper at exactly the same quality just an hour away in San Antonio. Commuting isn't bad either. If you got to go out a couple of times a week, that’s easy. As Austin gets so expensive, a lot of these types of jobs are entry-level. It’s hard to pay a wage that a lot of people can live near where they work. It’s one of the biggest factors in our data around employee satisfaction.
“Look at average home prices, Austin versus San Antonio. Our employees can save up to buy a home, our employees can have a really good lifestyle as professionals in San Antonio. It’s not that you can’t do it here, it’s just harder. We love San Antonio, it’s more of a family oriented community with a strong military presence. By the end of the year, we’ll have 500 employees there.
“The San Antonio office is led by our local leadership teams. They know the market, they know the industry. The heart of the company is in our operations, that’s where our frontline teammates are, that’s where it all happens. We looked at Austin initially. We love it here. We started looking at wages and other factors and the cost to our clients. It was cost-prohibitive.”