top 10 coolest companies to work for in austin

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Housing the state capitol of Texas, Austin is the second fastest growing city in the U.S. thanks to its eclectic atmosphere. Known for Texas history, University of Texas, live music and the annual South by Southwest festival, Austin creates a unique culture. This culture also bleeds into the business scene, as many companies that call Austin home have a culture that is innovative in employee appreciation and beyond.

Below are the 10 best and coolest companies to work for in Austin.



Consisting of over 500 employees, the advertising firm GSD&M has grown a lot since its founding in 1971. Representing companies both large and small, GSD&M prides itself in being born in Austin and the uniqueness that comes with it. Two to three times a month, the company hosts “idea university classes” taught by employees as well as leaders in the community, answering the question: “What is the next thing we should know about in order to help our clients?” GSD&M recognizes employees who are doing extraordinary things in agency meetings and welcomes new employees with open arms with a “howdy” lunch with senior leaders. GSD&M values freedom and responsibility and lives by the motto: “take care of your people and also take care of the city you live in.”

Keller Williams Realty


The real estate company forms its culture around building careers worth having, lives worth living and business worth owning. The culture puts family before business and does so through family fun perks, such as minor-league Round Rock Express baseball games, evenings at the movies and concerts. These perks not only encourage family outings but they instill the idea of family first. Employee recognition is awarded during specific milestones, with different gifts for five, 10 and 15 year anniversaries, along with employee of the month awards. All and all, the Keller Williams values boil down to three things: God, family, then business.

Burnett Specialists

Burnett Specialists


The Houston based and employee-owned company specializes in staffing and direct hire placements. The Austin office is unique because it only employs women. One major goal all employees strive for is working hard to take care of their clients. Echoing this belief is Sue Burnett, CEO, saying, “treat people how they wanted to be treated, not how you wanted to be treated.” A friendly competitive and goal setting atmosphere also helps the Austin office employees showcase their talents as they give out monthly employee appreciation awards from Burnett. Employees at the Austin Burnett Specialists office say it feels like a big sorority that works hard and plays hard.

National Instruments

National Instruments

National Instruments is a technology company that provides solutions that help engineers and scientists accelerate productivity and drive rapid innovation. Engineers in nearly every industry—from healthcare and automotive to consumer electronics and particle physics—use NI technology to improve our world. NI’s culture is based on the notion that what their employees and customers accomplish together will impact the world. That includes serving in the community, such as supporting hands-on robotics programs to inspire kids to pursue STEM careers. These types of programs—along with other company events and campaigns—remind NI employees that their work is changing the world every day.

Cirrus Logic


The high tech company specializing in audio chips is proud to call Austin, the live music capital of the world, home. Music encompasses the company culture, as Cirrus Logic hosts monthly concerts with local musicians and sponsors the music festival, Austin City Limits—all while located in the entertainment district of the city, 6th street. In addition, Cirrus Logic knows the value of onboarding training and has a mentor program for new employees to help them not only feel welcome, but able to grow and develop careers in the company as well.  As for employee recognition, Cirrus Logic recognizes employees that go beyond the call of duty in helping the customer, called Milestone Achievement award.




With chains spanning from the south to the midwest, Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant culture is built by the friendliest employees in the world. Employee recognition varies from service awards celebrating milestones to “WOW” bracelets that are given out when an employee goes above and beyond a duty. The three rules of conduct to live by when part of the Chuy’s organization are: do every thing you can for the customer; keep the restaurant impressively clean and organized and have fun. Employees also has the chance once a quarter to attend a culture club, where they learn about Chuy’s history and what makes the restaurant such a great place to work.



Helping more than 45,000 local businesses, Yodle connects owners with customers through marketing strategies. The six core values Yodle incorporates into their culture include: own our customer’s success; keep your word; question authority; treat others with respect; results matter and commit yourself to greatness. The corporate culture also encourages employees to take risks and stretch their skills all in order to grow within the business. Yodle has a full time “culture team” that organizes daily, weekly, and quarterly contests with prizes ranging from cash incentives to company sponsored trips. As for employee recognition, besides recognizing major successes and employee anniversaries, Yodle award programs include “Yodle Stars”, Top Performers Award and President’s Club. At the end of the day, Yodle wants to make “the work environment a place where everyone wants to be and where employees feel recognized for contributing to the company and to our customers’ success.”


Solar Winds

Providing software and products for IT professionals, SolarWinds works hard to promote a work life balance and take care of employees. In order to do that, SolarWinds has an open floor plan, with a game room and onsite gym—encouraging health and camaraderie among employees. Corporate culture is focused on results, hard work and fun. Because of their growing business, SolarWinds also focuses on connections between teams in Austin and around the world. SolarWinds has an in-depth onboarding process, called “SolarWinds Learning Portal” where employees learn about the different departments of the company, their role, the software created and the future of the company. The ultimate goal? “To bring talented people onto our team and give them the tools that they need to succeed and have fun doing it.”

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Austin

The organic grocery store chain creates an environment that is inviting, fun, unique, informal, comfortable, attractive, nurturing and educational. Core values are based around customer satisfaction, employee support, serving local communities all while caring for the environment. Whole Foods strives on moving away from “us versus them” mentality and letting healthy relationships among team members through open communication, transparency, and having personalities shine. Along with culture, Whole Foods has many employee recognition initiatives, including but not limited to: Team Member Appreciation Week, All Star Recognition, Team Member of the Month/Year and Appreciations All Around. Whole Foods also gives individual attention to new employees, having designated “buddies” or trainers, helping them assimilate into the new culture. All and all, Whole Foods corporation believes in a higher purpose, being environmentally friendly, while “celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.”



As a global leader in hybrid cloud architecture, Rackspace’s Austin office houses over 540 employees or “Rackers” who work hard and play hard. Six core values that encompass Rackspace culture include: fanatical support in all we do; results first, substance over flash; full disclosure and transparency; passion for our work; committed to greatness and treat rackers like friends and family. For employee recognition, Rackspace awards vary from the Rackermobile—nominated employees that get to drive the company car for a week, to the Pay it Forward Award—employees who demonstrate outstanding service to their communities. Rackspace also helps their new hires assimilate into corporate culture through a three-day orientation called Rookie O, that gets employees off to the right start.


As you can see, company culture, community service, employee engagement and recognition can be shown in many different ways. Created in 2013, the Coolest Companies to Work For award establishes public recognition of companies that provide exceptional work environments.

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By o.c. tanner
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Comments (2)

This is in fact a list of known Austin companies, plus one that discriminates against men. None of these are cool. And the one in this list for which I once worked, paid crap.

August 27, 2014   |   Reply

A bloo bloo man tears

December 10, 2014   |   Reply
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