Technology Community 
July/August 2000 edition


DENVER…the Convergence Capital: An Overview of What’s Driving Denver’s High Tech Boom
Guest Author: Nikki Maloney, Denver Mayor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Denver has a commitment to foster an entrepreneurial spirit and provide quality services and infrastructure for businesses. Denver is continuously ranked in surveys and studies as one of the premier cities in which to conduct business. Listed below are a few examples:


What’s Driving Denver’s High Tech Boom?

An established history as a premier location for communications…

Since the development of the phone system in the United States, Denver has played a critical role as a premier location in the communications industry. As early as 1879, Colorado was making history as the site of the World’s 17th Telephone Exchange.

As the phone system expanded throughout the U.S., Denver became the hub of the nation’s longest North/ South telephone line running from Great Falls, Montana to El Paso, Texas. The presence of that original hub led to a future of prominence for Denver as a key location for major telephone providers to locate central switches, and points of presence to offer services to the entire region.

A central location, allowing for one bounce satellite feeds to all major continents…

 With the growing presence of the military in the State of Colorado, as early as the 1940’s, Denver and the region became known for its satellite capabilities. Due to the area’s geographic location at the 52nd Meridian, the military quickly realized the strategic advantage the State’s location offered to monitor activities throughout the world. Known, as the main "spy center" during the Cold War, Colorado became a location of innovation & technological dominance in the field of satellite communications.

Denver…the birthplace of cable television…

The impacts of the state’s "spy" past would not fully be realized until decades to come with the invention of cable television. In the 1950’s and 1960’s there was an effort underway by a Colorado pioneer…Bill Daniels, to develop a new way for Americans to receive television in their homes. It was called cable television. Daniels over the years would become known as the father of cable television, being likened to J.D. Rockefeller in building the oil business and J.P. Morgan in developing the railroads.

In the late 1950’s Daniels formed a financing firm, Daniels and Associates, to raise money to start cable operations around the country. His efforts would lead to the formation of the majority of the biggest cable operations in the country. And at the same time he was able to attract some of the biggest companies to Denver, including TCI and American Television Communications Corporation. Other players that became active in the market at that time were UnitedGlobalCom and Jones Intercable.

Denver’s position as a cable center grew rapidly in the 1980’s and 1990’s, filling the market with entrepreneurs and workers developing new and more efficient ways for the world to communicate. CableLabs the premier research and development consortium of the cable industry moved its operations to Colorado, building on the innovation already underway in the Denver market. And as cable moved into the digital age companies in Colorado once again took advantage of Colorado’s location to beam satellite images of the newest movies and programs to global markets, making cable part of the vernacular in almost every country.

Deregulation sparks opportunity and innovation…

When the telecommunications market deregulated in the 1990’s, US West, the Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC) serving the western United States had the choice of where to locate its new headquarters. Their choice was between Seattle, Omaha and Denver, and thankfully they chose Denver. That decision had huge impact on the size of our high tech workforce, the number of service companies opening to service the U.S. West account and the technological innovation underway at U.S. West’s local laboratory.

With new entrants flooding the market, Denver once again became a hotbed for innovation and change. Companies such as Qwest, Level 3 and ICG were formed creating new business models to compete against U.S. West and other RBOC’s around the country. At the same time the cable industry searched for ways to offer phone service as well.

Denver the Convergence Capital…

The Colorado high tech market quickly became different to those found on either coast of the United States. Rather than focusing on content or equipment, Colorado’s market serves telecommunications, services, software, and Internet specifically emphasizing CONVERGENCE…the convergence of voice, data and video. The combination of these industries in the market place meant the high tech employment base was rapidly on the rise. Today, Colorado boosts the 2nd highest high-tech employment concentration in the nation with 80 high-tech workers per 1,000 private sector workers.

Denver is quickly becoming known as a premier location for the technology sector. Joseph Nacchio, Chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications, says Denver is blessed with the "three P’s." "Denver has the place, the possibilities and the people to make the city a hub in the global technology business in the 21st century," he says. "The future of our city is technology, and the present situation suggests that the future is looking very promising."

Headlines from the July/August edition of Technology Community

Page 2  Forbes, Metro Denver Executives, City and State Officials Hit Home With Convergence Message

Page 3  U.S. Metro Economies Drive Robust Economy

Page 4 Congressman Udall Promotes Telecommuting

Page 5 Colorado Venture Capital Investments Reach $423.1 million in Q1 2000




Page 10 R&D Funding



Any technology organization or company is invited to submit brief articles via fax or e-mail to:
CU Business Advancement Center,
5353 Manhattan Cir., Suite 202, Boulder, CO 80303.
Phone (303) 554-9493 ext. 13 Fax (303) 554-9605
Karen Eye

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