Almost every day we hear about out-of-town tech companies opening branch offices in Austin. What does that mean? Could the next Facebook , Google , or Apple start and grow in Austin? Will Austin even be the next Silicon Valley ? Or are we a "tech colony," a place where global companies can find a ready supply of highly-trained tech workers who will work for less than workers in California or New York? Salaries are lower here, even for tech specialist in high demand, and although Austin is often billed as a "lower cost of living" area, it may not seem that way to those facing high (and rising) rent, home prices, and property taxes. In Silicon Valley, researcher and writer Vivek Wadhwa studies competitiveness as an academic discipline. He says he’s pessimistic about the tech future of many U.S. cities and regions, but not Austin. He says Austin has done everything right and should continue to grow. More than advantages like Texas' favorable tax climate, the stream of patents spinning out of UT, or ample investment capital, he says it’s the human capital that gives Austin an advantage.