Boulder: The Secrets of America's Startup City
The Making of a City1859 Gold Rush1977 University of Colorado, Boulder1910 Going Green 1949 Big Science1952 The Boom1956 Going into Orbit1965 Big Blue1969 Teaman1980 Up With Bio1989 And The Winner Is...1990 We're No. 12006 Welcome to the Start-Up Culture2009 Pot Shop2013 The Future
The first entrepreneurs came for gold. Now? Big-time Investors.
Thanks to gold, Boulder booms. The first entrepreneur? Prospector A.A. Brookfield starts the Boulder City Town Company, selling lots for $1,000 apiece.
The University of Colorado, Boulder, opens with two teachers and 44 students.
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., whose father was the landscape architect of Central Park in New York City, is hired as a consultant. His advice: Embrace beauty, and prosperity will follow.
Boulder, in competition with 11 other cities, gets the National Bureau of Standards’s Radio Propagation Laboratory, which, among other things, analyzed radio waves on Earth and from space. Its employees weren’t thrilled with their new exotic home.
The federal government builds Rocky Flats, a nuclear weapons manufacturing plant; in 1950, the city had 20,000 residents; in 1960, 42,000.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation arrives, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ball Corporation (yes, those glass Mason jars!).
IBM constructs an 85,000-square-foot facility to manufacture tape drives.
Mo Siegel, a Colorado entrepreneur, co-founds his tea company, Celestial Seasonings—creating one of the world’s most famous brands in the process. Boulder County’s population grows 78 percent from 1960 to 1970, and another 44 percent from 1970 to 1980. Today, it’s home to 305,318 people.
Biotech pharmaceutical manufacturer Amgen opens two locations near Boulder to make the anemia drug Epogen.
Tom Cech, professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Sidney Altman, a CU graduate and Yale professor, jointly win the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA.
Believe it or not, Boulder has the most high-tech start-ups per capita in the nation, thanks to a long history of high-tech institutions such as IBM, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Ball Aerospace, and CU.
Brad Feld and David Cohen co-found Techstars to help fund budding companies. The next year, Feld co-founds the VC firm Foundry Group with $225 million; it has invested in 68 companies, including Zynga and Fitbit.
Helping Hands Herbals opens as one of Boulder’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. Boulder now has 32 dispensaries and 37 cultivation facilities licensed to do business in the city.
Hoping to meet staffing demands at start-ups, CU’s department of computer science develops a new degree for liberal arts students.