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

Teddy Liaw left California for Nevada in January 2021.
Courtesy of Teddy Liaw

  • Teddy Liaw is a tech CEO who left San Francisco for a Las Vegas suburb in 2021.
  • Liaw had grown frustrated with The Bay Area’s crime and wanted a family-friendly and lively city.
  • Since moving, Liaw said it’s his mission to introduce others to everything Vegas has to offer. 

This as-told-to 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 Las Vegas suburb, in 2021 after he grew frustrated by crime in the Bay Area. Liaw founded the Vegas Tech Summit, a multi-day tech conference promoting Vegas as a burgeoning tech center.

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 views of the water surrounding an amazing city.

But COVID-19 absolutely wrecked the city. It’s not the same San Francisco as before. It’s still rebounding, and it’s not all the way back yet.

I had been living in San Francisco for about 15 years before I moved. I owned a condo that had a gorgeous bay view on the top of the hill.

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

But during the pandemic, there was rampant crime. I don’t appreciate it when people turn it into a homelessness issue because San Francisco has had homeless people before and found ways to provide services. That was the narrative during COVID. But it’s not a homelessness issue. It was a safety issue.

At the end of 2020, my house was burglarized. My experience with law enforcement was not positive. That was the last straw.

I’ve got two young kids, and I asked myself: Is this the type of environment that will be safe for my family? The answer, unfortunately, was no.

Everywhere was on the table

I was considering Los Angeles, Washington State, and Texas.

In January 2021, right in the middle of COVID, I decided to do a scouting trip to Vegas. It opened my eyes to what Vegas had to offer, including new houses, clean living, and ample playgrounds for children.

There was amazing food of all ethnicities, cuisines, and cultures. Vegas has entertainment, family life, and suburbia life, just 20 minutes away from all the socializing you would ever want.

It became a very easy decision.

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

Summerlin is a master-planned community about 20 minutes from all the action. You can’t go more than half a mile without running into a park. We’re in a desert, but there’s a lot of greenery.

Summerlin is designed for families. It has an amazing list of school options from preschool through high school, including some of the top private schools in the state.

Plus, I like to play golf, and there are so many golf options.

I got close to 7,000 square feet and two swimming pools here for the same price as I got my four-bedroom condo in the Bay Area. I needed a house that my friends wanted to visit.

As soon as I moved, I started inviting friends to come and visit. Many of them ended up being overwhelmed by what Vegas had to offer. I convinced a bunch of my friends to move. There is a whole wave of people I “imported” from California.

Everyone is always concerned about the 110-degree heat, but in just 35 minutes, you can be at Mount Charleston and it’s only 85 degrees there. Yes, we’re in a desert, but we can drive 35 minutes and find sledding in the wintertime.

Quite frankly, Vegas has over-delivered on quality of life.

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

There’s nothing as good for work as the Bay Area. It offered serendipitous opportunities. Back in the day, you could get in a shared Uber, sit with the VP of some tech company, and have a great 20-minute conversation. Or you could be at a restaurant and overhear an executive’s conversation next to you. That was the spirit of San Francisco.

That magic of the Bay Area hasn’t fully made its way over to Vegas, but it’s going to happen.

When I came to Vegas, I started 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’s already attracted successful entrepreneurs and tech folks from all over the country who come and see what Vegas offers.

My goal is to make people see that Vegas has the potential to be a thriving tech ecosystem, and we’re well on our way to achieving that. I see a lot of VCs and entrepreneurs who have already moved here.

The last thing I’m missing here is an existing group of friends. You can’t replace decades of friendship. But I’ve realized that there are so many new people moving here, and everybody’s eager to find good people and build community.

That’s the spirit of Vegas.

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