Blog Post

U.S. tech hotspots: San Fran, Boston and … Utah?

Just for fun, I thought I’d spend some time last night playing with Google (s goog) Insights for Search to find out what parts of the country are most interested in technology — at least the buzzwords that fill my day — and when that interest hit its peak. It wasn’t surprising to see Silicon Valley rank at or near the top everywhere, but did you know Utah was so into next-generation programming?

As an introduction, it’s probably good to have an understanding of how Google Insights ranks search interest. Essentially, it normalizes data to give a picture of how likely people in each state are to search for a particular term, not necessarily what states had the most overall searches for any particular term. Here’s how Google explains it:

Just because two regions show the same percentage for a particular term doesn’t mean that their absolute search volumes are the same. Data from these two regions – with significant differences in search volumes – can be compared equally because the data has been normalized by the total traffic from each respective region.

The state maps are accurate as of Jan. 8, 2012. The embedded charts are live and will change over time.

Cloud computing

Search interest in cloud computing peaked in April 2011, the same month Amazon Web Services (s amzn) suffered a four-day outage that made national headlines. Coincidence?

Somewhat interestingly, people in Massachussetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C., were more likely do search for “cloud computing” than were people in California. However, there is a respectable tech and venture-capital scene around Boston, and a large federal presence (both government and military) in D.C. and the surrounding areas.

Big data

It’s hard to call the November 2011 the peak for interest in big data, as it has been growing consistently for the past year and might well go even higher.

Utah? Hmm. I’ll chalk up New York’s presence to the banking industry.


Cloudera launched in March 2009, the same time interest in Hadoop began its steady ascent.

I’m not sure what to make of the disparity in interest between “Hadoop” and “big data” among the states. Perhaps the two aren’t as tightly aligned in people’s minds as I thought. Although, “big data hadoop” was the No. 4 search term for “big data”.


The peak in October 2011 might have something to do with Oracle (s orcl) getting into the NoSQL space. I’m blanking on the March 2010 spike — any ideas?

Again with Utah, although the government seems less concerned with NoSQL than with other tech trends.

A few more interesting points

Utah ranks highly in interest for other programming trends, including Node.js.

The Salt Lake City metropolitan area actually shows up high in interest for Javascript and iOS (s aapl).

If you’re wondering who’s interested in more-advanced techniques, look to advanced tech universities. I’m going to assume the presence of Carnegie Mellon University has something to do with Pittsburgh’s relative interest in machine learning.

And people apparently get interested in sharing photos via Instagram when they’re on vacation.

6 Responses to “U.S. tech hotspots: San Fran, Boston and … Utah?”

  1. Following your insight to look for advanced tech universities to explain some of the data then recently the University of Utah was named the number 1 school in the U.S. for creating startup companies (second year in a row):

    Regarding New York, then New York City’ tech scene is much more than just the banking industry. For more details see: and for an example of Hadoop usage by a NYC startup see:

  2. Gabriel Gunderson

    This blog post on open source technologies is kinda old now (I think I wrote it about 3 years ago), but it’s still very telling.

    Notice how Utah ranks:
    Linux #1, Kernel #2, BSD #2, GNU #2, GPL #1, Apache #1, Postfix #1, Bash #1, Python Scripting #3, Asterisk #1, IPTables #1, Cron #1, MySQL #1, PostgreSQL #1

    Utah also has a pretty well attended open source conference that brings people from all over the mountain west.

    And, if that were not enough, there is also my humble little startup. We’re still putting it on the map… heh ;)

    Anyway, thanks for noticing and drop by anytime!

  3. Nathan Mills

    I think that for us in Utah this doesn’t come as a surprise…locally we lovingly call the Wasatch Front area Silicon Slopes ( ). Both BYU and the Univ. of Utah put out a huge number of startups…and like Matt mentioned below, there are a lot of successful tech companies that grew up here (with a lot of others opening large offices here).

    • Derrick Harris

      Thanks Matt and Nathan for explaining what’s up. I knew of Novell and Fusion-io, of course, but didn’t realize how much else Utah had going on that would make it register so high on Google Insights. Just checked out Silicon Slopes and saw, 1-800-Contacts, Omniture, Makes a lot more sense now.

  4. Matt Eagar

    With all due respect, I think your surprise is more a reflection on you than on the state of Utah. Novell, Word Perfect, the University of Utah (think Alan Kay, Ed Catmull, Ivan Sutherland, et al), and more recently Omniture, Fusion-io, Control4, to name a few.