Moving

Tech CEO Moved From San Francisco to Las Vegas Due to Crime

Angle-down symbol A symbol in the shape of an angle pointing downward. Teddy Liaw left California in January 2021 and went to Nevada. Courtesy of Teddy Liaw

  • Teddy Liaw is a tech CEO who left San Francisco in 2021 to move to a suburb of Las Vegas.
  • Liaw was frustrated with crime in the Bay Area and wanted a family-friendly and vibrant city.
  • Since moving there, Liaw says his mission has been to introduce others to everything Vegas has to offer.

This essay is based on a conversation with Teddy Liaw, the 45-year-old CEO of contact center solutions company NexRep, who moved from San Francisco to Summerlin, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, in 2021 after becoming frustrated with crime in the Bay Area. Liaw founded the Vegas Tech Summit, a multi-day tech conference that promotes Vegas as an emerging tech hub.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I absolutely loved the Bay Area. I loved the culture, the food, the people, the intellect, and the gorgeous water views that surround this amazing city.

But COVID-19 has completely devastated the city. It's not the same San Francisco it once was. The city is still recovering, but it's not fully back on the mend yet.

I had lived in San Francisco for about 15 years before I moved. I owned a condo at the top of the hill with a beautiful view of the bay.

The Bay Area had so much to offer, including a thriving entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem that made very smart people even smarter.

But during the pandemic, there was rampant crime. I don't appreciate people making this a homeless problem, because San Francisco has had homeless people before and they've found ways to provide help. That's been the narrative during COVID. But it's not a homeless problem. It was a safety problem.

At the end of 2020, my house was robbed. My experience with the police was not positive. That was the last straw.

I have two young children and I asked myself: is this the kind of environment where my family will be safe? The answer was unfortunately no.

Everywhere on the table

I considered Los Angeles, Washington State and Texas.

In January 2021, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, I decided to take an exploratory trip to Vegas. It opened my eyes to what Vegas had to offer, including new homes, clean living, and ample playgrounds for children.

There was amazing food of all ethnicities, cuisines and cultures. Vegas offers entertainment, family life and suburban living, just 20 minutes away from all the social opportunities you could want.

It was a very easy decision.

Summerlin is a suburb about 20 minutes outside of Las Vegas. halbergman/Getty Images

Summerlin is a planned community about 20 minutes from all the action. You can't walk more than a half mile without coming across a park. We're in a desert, but there's plenty of greenery.

Designed for families, Summerlin offers an amazing selection of schools from kindergarten through high school, including some of the best private schools in the state.

I also love playing golf and there are so many opportunities to play golf.

I got nearly 7,000 square feet and two swimming pools for the same price as my four-bedroom apartment in the Bay Area. I needed a house that my friends would want to visit.

As soon as I moved, I started inviting friends to visit me. Many of them ended up being blown away by what Vegas had to offer. I convinced many of my friends to move. There's a whole wave of people I “imported” from California.

Everyone always worries about the 100 degree heat, but in just 35 minutes you can get to Mount Charleston and it's only 80 degrees. Yes, we're in a desert, but we can drive 35 minutes and go sledding in the winter.

Honestly, Vegas has more to offer in terms of quality of life than it should have.

Vegas is well on its way to becoming a thriving tech ecosystem

There's nothing better to work in than the Bay Area. It offered unexpected opportunities. Back then, you could hop in an Uber, sit down with the vice president of a tech company and have a great 20-minute conversation. Or you could sit in a restaurant and overhear the conversation of the executive next to you. That was the spirit of San Francisco.

The magic of the Bay Area hasn't quite made it to Vegas yet, but it will.

When I came to Vegas, I began meeting with public officials and was appointed to the previous governor's Startup and Venture Council.

I later founded a nonprofit called Vegas Tech Summit. It already attracts successful entrepreneurs and tech people from across the country who come to see what Vegas has to offer.

My goal is to get people to realize that Vegas has the potential to be a thriving tech ecosystem and we are well on our way to achieving that. I see a lot of VCs and entrepreneurs already moving here.

The last thing I miss here is an existing circle of friends. There is no replacing friendships that have lasted for decades. But I have noticed that so many new people are moving here and everyone is keen to meet nice people and build a community.

That's the spirit of Vegas.

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